The Cleveland Orchestra’s autograph manuscript of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 to be on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art
(Photo: David D. Brichford, courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art)
CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Orchestra announced the autograph manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” will be on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art from October 31, 2023, to February 11, 2024.
International Orchestra trustee, noted Austrian media executive, and philanthropist Dr. Herbert G. Kloiber generously donated the historic gift to The Cleveland Orchestra in 2020. It was briefly on display to the public at Severance Music Center to celebrate the gift and mark the start of the 2022–23 season. Since then, the manuscript has been graciously kept and preserved at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Mahler composed his Second Symphony from 1888 to 1894. The 232-page, unbound bifolio is considered one of the composer’s purest manuscripts, containing his own deletions, alterations, and annotations. The unaltered document is the only autograph manuscript of the complete symphony in existence.
“To see the composer’s handwriting on the page, to discover where he emphasized something important, you feel so close to the creator and what he wrote,” said Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst.
Often called the grandest of all 19th-century symphonies, “Resurrection” requires more than 100 musicians, soloists, and a chorus, and utilizes off-stage brass and percussion. The roughly 80-minute symphony is a dramatic work on humanity’s search for meaning in life and death.
“Upon looking at the pages, two things immediately struck me,” Franz Welser-Möst said. “The first is the clarity of Mahler’s handwriting. You would think that someone who wrote such highly emotional music would reflect that excessiveness in his writing, but this is not the case. It tells you how extremely well thought through and meticulous he was. Even at the end of the symphony, where the music reaches its most profound and impassioned moments, the clarity does not disappear in his handwriting. The second is how many layers of corrections he made. Mahler is said to have told his disciples, ‘If, after my death, something doesn’t sound right, then change it. You have not only the right, but you are obliged to change something if it serves the idea of the music.’”
The manuscript’s provenance can be traced directly to Mahler’s widow, Alma, who gave the manuscript to Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg. The Mengelberg Foundation retained ownership following his death and the document was put on deposit at the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague in 1982. American financial publisher Gilbert Kaplan purchased the score in 1984. After his death in 2016, it was put up for auction at Sotheby’s, where Kloiber bought it anonymously.
Dr. Kloiber, who joined the Cleveland Orchestra Board of Trustees in 2010 and chairs its European Advisory Board, developed a close relationship with the organization and Welser-Möst over the last several years. After purchasing Mahler’s autograph manuscript, he tasked himself with finding it a permanent home. Dr. Kloiber decided The Cleveland Orchestra was the perfect fit.
The Cleveland Orchestra worked with experts at the Cleveland Museum of Art to display it while still preserving the paper’s condition. When it’s not on view, the manuscript is housed in climate-controlled storage at the museum.
“We are profoundly grateful to Dr. Kloiber for entrusting The Cleveland Orchestra with the custodianship of the manuscript of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony, a truly invaluable treasure in the history of Western music,” said André Gremillet, President and CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra. “This collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art further solidifies Cleveland’s standing as one of this country’s great cultural centers.”
“We are delighted to collaborate in this way with our friends and neighbors, The Cleveland Orchestra. It is an honor to display Mahler’s manuscript for his Second Symphony and to suggest the connections and synergies between music and the visual arts in the context of the CMA’s collection. We hope that visitors to the museum during the holiday season will take the opportunity to see this fascinating manuscript, which—like a drawing—provides a glimpse into the composer’s psyche,” said Cleveland Museum of Art Director William Griswold.
Visitors to the Cleveland Museum of Art can see select pages of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 near Antonio Canova’s 1816 marble sculpture Terpsichore Lyran (Muse of Lyric Poetry) in the Monte and Usha Ahuja Founders Rotunda.
The Cleveland Orchestra recently released a production of its September 2022 performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 on its digital streaming platform Adella. A behind-the-scenes segment of the production featuring the manuscript currently on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art is available here. Photos of the manuscript and the performance are available for download here.
About The Cleveland Orchestra
Now in its second century, The Cleveland Orchestra, under the leadership of Franz Welser-Möst since 2002, remains one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world. Year after year the ensemble exemplifies extraordinary artistic excellence, creative programming, and community engagement. In recent years, The New York Times has called Cleveland “the best in America” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like musical cohesion, “virtually flawless,” and “one of the finest ensembles in the country (if not the world).”
Through concerts at home and on tour, broadcasts, and a catalog of acclaimed recordings, The Cleveland Orchestra is heard today by a growing group of fans around the world. For more information, visit clevelandorchestra.com.
About the Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes more than 63,000 artworks and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, and performing arts and is a leader in digital innovations. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation, recognized for its award-winning Open Access program and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the University Circle neighborhood.
The museum is supported in part by residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and made possible in part by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC), which receives support from the State of Ohio and the National Endowment for the Arts. The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. For more information about the museum and its holdings, programs, and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit cma.org.