Scholarly Journeys Toward Gustav Mahler – Essays in Honour of Henry-Louis de La Grange for his 90th Birthday

by Paul-André Bempéchat (Volume editor)
©2016 Monographs XVIII, 660 Pages


This collection of essays forms the second Festschrift to honour the dean of Gustav Mahler research, Henry-Louis de La Grange, on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. It includes vibrant, new historical, theoretical, and aesthetic research on the complex mind which produced among the best-loved orchestral works and songs of Western classical music.
Henry-Louis de La Grange's passion and tireless devotion to Gustav Mahler began when he first heard his Ninth Symphony conducted by Bruno Walter at Carnegie Hall in New York. He went on to plumb the depths of this composer's mind and soul and to explore every facet of his existence.
Among the many honours he has gleaned since the publication of the first Festschrift, Neue Mahleriana (Lang, 1997), Henry-Louis de La Grange has been named Professor by the Government of Austria (1998) and Officier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'honneur (2006). He has also been awarded Bard College's Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters, the Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst, 1. Klasse (2010), the Gold Medal of the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft (2010), and an honourary doctorate from The Juilliard School (2010). As another everlasting tribute, the American film director Jason Starr released his documentary film, For the Love of Mahler: The Inspired Life of Henry-Louis de La Grange, in 2015.

Table Of Contents

Why This Book?



Courtesy of Peanuts Worldwide LLC

Funny and powerfully suggestive, Charles Schultz’s cartoon tells, at best, half the story. This book exists because we have been not only ‘Mahlered’ but also ‘La Grange’d’, and it tells the other half.

Among the innumerable paroxysms affixed to Gustav Mahler and his legacy, lucid explications for his ever-accruing popularity and all-encompassing significance are relatively few. One reached us from an unexpected source: contrary to his forebear Joseph Stalin, who feared the redeeming power of music, Mikhail Gorbachev, as he returned to private life, mused in an interview for Time (May, 1992): ‘In life, there is always conflict and contradiction, but without those—there is no life. Mahler was able to capture that aspect of the human condition.’

As the many tributes to M. de La Grange attest, our debt to his decades of work on Le grand Gustav, as Henry-Louis affectionately calls Mahler, is incalculable. From the ground up: students (such as the present author back in his 20s) are daunted by the depth of Henry-Louis’ research and its incontestable thoroughness; teachers and scholars (Mahlerians included) look to him for guidance and for pointers as to how to enlighten their students and how to orient, or re-orient their own research; and ‘civilian’ Mahler-lovers return to him as the stable anchor amid the din and dare which at once surround, enhance and encapsulate the master’s voice.

This book began by pure accident. I had visited the Médiathèque Mahler to consult the Fonds Jean Cras as I was preparing an exhibit to accompany a performance at the Husum (Germany) Festival of Piano Rarities in 2012. As I was reading the residents’ roster at 11 bis, rue de Vézelay, I read ‘de La Grange’ ← xiii | xiv →among the buzzers. After introductions had been made and archives consulted, I asked if M. de La Grange indeed resided at this address; the response was, of course, ‘yes’, and I then asked if the man who’d systematically inspired me toward musicological research alongside my pianistic activities would be willing to meet me. To my surprise, Henry-Louis would see me for a quarter hour; the afternoon visit lasted—and this is indicative of this great man’s generosity—over an hour, during which he normally rested. A friendship was struck.

A year later, during another research visit to the Médiathèque, I asked about a Festschrift for Henry-Louis; the first (also published by Peter Lang) had emerged in honour of his 70th birthday. I asked if I might be permitted to undertake a second, in honour of his forthcoming 90th. The response was—de toute évidence—very positive, and here we are.

A second Festschrift for Henry-Louis de La Grange is a sine qua non. Few, if any scholars, have been as prolific and as influential in the resurrection of a major figure whose legacy had almost been denied. Few, if any, scholars have demonstrated such generosity with their findings as has Henry-Louis. And fewer yet have been able to assimilate and incorporate into the process of responsible scholarship the invaluable discourse brought to the intellectual table by purveyors of the matière première: the performers.

Quite simply, since the moment Henry-Louis de La Grange, as a young man was himself ‘Mahlered’, he made it his business to ‘Mahler’ the rest of us. And he has. For even the most scientific of Mahlerians demonstrate a reliance on the subjective experience of Mahler—the realm of the performer—to buttress their findings. Gratefully, this synthesis is demonstrated in this group of studies, introduced by a festive musical work especially composed by Harvard University’s Composer-in-Residence, Dr. Carson Cooman.

For Mahler, as we continue to discover, is soul and science incarnate. Hence, this book.


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Paris, am 18. September 2014

Henry-Louis de La Grange ist ein Zauberer. Dazu braucht er keinen sternenbestickten schwarzen Samtmantel und goldenen Spitzhut wie in einem Kindermärchen. Es genügen sein bubenhafter Charme und sein unerschöpfliches Wissen. Und natürlich diese unerschöpfliche Lust an seinem Forschungsobjekt. In der von ihm gegründeten Médiathèque Musicale Mahler in Paris taucht der Besucher ein, in das von ihm über Jahrzehnte sorgsam zusammengetragene „Universum Mahler“: Partituren, Fotos, Büsten, Briefe, Tonträgern und Bücher, alles griffbereit. Jedes Original mit Erinnerungen, persönlichen Begegnungen, Bildern und Klängen verknüpft und längst zukunftstauglich aufbereitet. Junge Studierende und weltbekannte Sänger, die unter Henry-Louis’ Dach forschen, dürfen mit seiner Zuwendung und seinem Rat rechnen. Auch jene Universitäten, Opernhäuser, Festivals oder Fachzeitschriften, die sich an die Médiathèque Musicale Mahler und ihren Schutzherrn wenden, erhalten in der „MMM“ profunde wissenschaftliche Auskunft und Anleitung. Seine bei Oxford University Press erschienene und von Musikwissenschaftlern liebevoll als „Mahler-Bibel“ bezeichnete umfassende Mahler-Biographie ist fixer Bestandteil jeder ernstzunehmenden Musikbibliothek.

Um die Gustav-Mahler-Forschung ist es gut bestellt — und dafür sind wir vor allem Henry-Louis de La Grange zu Dank verpflichtet: Für seine unablässigen Forschungen, seine großzügige Förderung des Erbes von Gustav Mahler, seine internationale Strahlkraft und seine Demut vor dem Werk dieses großen Österreichers.

Das offizielle Österreich hat 2010 eine Geste der Anerkennung gesetzt und Henry-Louis de La Grange mit dem Österreichischen Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst 1. Klasse ausgezeichnet. Namens des Teams der Österreichischen Botschaft Paris wünsche ich Henry-Louis von ganzem Herzen alles Gute zu seinem 90.Geburtstag, anhaltende Schaffenskraft und noch viele musische Lehr-, Lern-, und Lebensjahre!

Dr. Ursula Plassnik
Österreichische Botschafterin in Frankreich


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Cum gratiarum actionibus


Naturlauf, a symbolic reflection of both Henry-Louis de La Grange’s and Gustav Mahler’s love for nature, emerges from the painstaking labours of its many contributors and through the selfless generosity of many librarians, fellow academics and friends.

My gratitude extends first to Henry-Louis’ staff at the Médiathèque Mahler in Paris, Alena Parthonnaud and Marie-Joe Blavette, Anne Mange in Lausanne, and Sybille Werner in New York. Without their help, the composition of this team of scholars would have presented a considerable challenge. To Alena, Anne and Marie-Joe in particular, I am most grateful for having digitized the photos and graphics tracing Henry-Louis’ long and distinguished career. My thanks extend as well to Drs. Christian Meyer in Vienna, and Joseph Poukar in Jihlava (Czech Republic), for their sound advice on the orientation of this book, and for the graphics they kindly shared with me.

At Peter Lang Publishing, to Ms. Jackie Pavlovic and the entire production team so sensitively devoted to this project, thanks are also extended.

In matters editorial, I would like to extend sincere gratitude to my esteemed colleagues Drs. Angela Mace Christian (Colorado State University), Michael Griffel (Juilliard), Renate Stark-Voit (Mahler-Gesellschaft, Vienna) and Dr. Constantin Vössing (Humboldt Universität Berlin), who extended valuable time to proofread our work. Readers will note that certain essays contain bibliographies whereas others do not; I have left this to the respected discretion of my colleagues.

For their pro-active and timely assistance, I would like to thank Dr. Liza Vick, Kerry Masteller and Andrew Wilson of Harvard University’s Edna Kuhn Loeb Music Library. Across campus, my thanks extend as well to Leverett House Masters Drs. Howard and Ann Georgi, House Administrator JoAnn Haas and Building Manager Paul Hegarty for the logistical and technical support required to bring this book to fruition.

At the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, my colleagues Antony Flackett, Hubert Hohn, Greg Wallace, and my intrepid graphic design assistant ← xvii | xviii →Charles Altieri never failed to save me from assured doom (and inevitable gloom) had I wrestled alone with the new technologies.

During the gestation of this book, we lost three of our colleagues: Dr. Heidi Burns, Acquisitions Editor for Peter Lang Publishing, provided valuable guidance during the book’s first stages; Dr. Erich Wolfgang Partsch of Vienna, whose contribution to this book, and tremendous productivity in Bruckner and Mahler research will serve generations of scholars; and, the venerated musicologist and producer of classical music programs for Radio-France, Dominique Jameux. To their families, I extend sincere condolences.

On behalf of all my colleagues and Mahler-lovers the world over, to the generous sponsors of this project:

Our heartfelt thanks!

Paul-André Bempéchat
Cambridge, Massachusetts


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A Musical Offering from Harvard

May 2014

There are from time to time mornings, both in summer and winter: mornings when especially the world seems to begin anew. The world has been recreated in the night: mornings of creation. It is the poet’s hour. Mornings when we are new-born: we who have the seeds of life in us.

—Henry David Thoreau

Mornings (2014) sets a brief text adapted from the Journals (1853) of the American author Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). Thoreau’s words explore the coming of morning as the classic metaphor for creation and re-birth. It was a pleasure to write this small work in honour of Henry-Louis de La Grange’s ninetieth birthday.

—Carson Cooman



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Across today’s globalized society, it is no longer difficult to find concerts including music by Gustav Mahler. But when Henry-Louis de La Grange began his impressive biographical work on Mahler over a half century ago, the situation was very different. The composer’s scores had been ignored or discredited as the work of a lesser composer. In my native Italy, where Mahler’s symphonies were previously little known, I have followed the major shift which began with their widespread rediscovery during the 1970s.

M. de La Grange, through his many path-breaking publications, his lectures across four continents, and the creation of the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler in Paris, has contributed more then any other scholar to the Mahler renaissance and to the passion for his compositions, now universally beloved.

The International Musicological Society, the oldest international association of historical musicologists (founded in Basel in 1927), is proud to extend to Henry-Louis de La Grange the warmest appreciation for his life’s work, conducted at the highest level of musicological research, and honoured by the entire international community.

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In a paraphrase on Mahlers’ ‘My time will come’ I would like to say to Henry-Louis: “Your time has definitely come!”

It is not often that a person gets a Festschrift twice in a lifetime and this is just what happened to the outstanding Mahler biographer Henry-Louis de La Grange and with reason as we, the Gustav Mahler Society Holland can prove.

From the beginning of the Mahler congresses, held in the Netherlands, Henry-Louis was a pillar on which we could lean, a great supporter of all our ideas and last but not least a fountain of inspiration for us all.

May your life continue to be filled with Mahler, both in music as in letters and may your research continue to enlighten us all.

Eveline Nikkels, President of the Gustav Mahler Stichting Nederland


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Esteemed Colleague,

Though each and every one of my students in music history and musicology, at Bryn Mawr College and at the Manhattan School of Music, where I taught for several decades, came to know you through your colossal contributions to musicology, we have unfortunately never met in person.

The bond that does exist between us is Paul-André Bempéchat, a lifelong friend whose doctoral dissertation I directed. You see, he also created a Festschrift for me, to honor my 75th birthday. So I can assure you that you are in good hands, for the rigor he brings to his work makes him (assuredly my fault) plus catholique que le Pape !


XVIII, 660
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (March)
Orchestral work Gustav Mahler Concert Theoretical music research
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XVIII, 660 pp., 4 ill.

Biographical notes

Paul-André Bempéchat (Volume editor)

Paul-André Bempéchat is an internationally acclaimed Franco-Canadian concert pianist, musicologist, and lecturer renowned for his interpretations of the first Viennese school. A graduate of The Juilliard School and the Sorbonne, Dr. Bempéchat is Artist-in-Residence at Leverett House, Harvard University. He has performed as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician on both sides of the Atlantic at major venues including Berlin's Konzerthaus, the Meininger-Theater, the Belgrade, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Philharmonics, as well as the Caramoor, Holland, and Vienna Festivals. His universally acclaimed, seminal study of Jean Cras, Jean Cras, Polymath of Music and Letters (2009), has affirmed him as the authority on this eclectic Breton impressionist and as a champion of minority composers. Dr. Bempéchat records for DANACORD Records, Copenhagen.


Title: Naturlauf