“Herzlichst in Eile Ihr Mahler” – Indexing the letters of Gustav Mahler

Authors: Gubsch, Clemens / Quass, Raphaela

Date: Thursday, 7 September 2023, 4:15pm to 5:45pm

Location: Main Campus, L 1 <campus:stage>


Compared to other composers’ extant letter exchanges, Gustav Mahler’s correspondence with approximately 5000 letters is one of the most extensive letter collections of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to family mail, written exchanges with friends, artists, publishers, artistic directors and institutions, the correspondence also includes intellectual dialogues with other composers such as Richard Strauss or conductors such as Felix Weingartner. The resulting network of letter correspondents locates, on the one hand, Mahler’s influence in the historical context while simultaneously making his sociocultural position as well as the accompanying period-specific variance recognizable. On the other hand, the number and content of the letters characterize Mahler as a person in a syncrisis between the composer’s external image and the perception of his contemporaries.

The project therefore aims to create a basis for an edition of letters by recording and indexing all of Gustav Mahler’s letters that have so far appeared in print as well as the existing counter-letters, which means only metadata of the letters and bibliographic records of the printed editions are recorded but no full texts. The encoding scheme of the TEI is used for the recording. Particular difficulties lie, on the one hand, in the harmonisation of the data collected within the various letter editions, i.e. classification of the letter formats (postcards, telegrams, contracts, etc.) or the reference to the place where the letters are kept (persistent library information) and, on the other hand, in Mahler’s habit of not dating letters or, in some cases, dating them incorrectly as well as the small stock of counter letters. The poster will present the results of the project as well as the difficulties that have arisen in the recording, evaluation and presentation of the index of letters.

Contribution Type