Gustav Mahler


Piano Quartet in a minor

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) is, of course, famous as a symphonist, conductor and important musical personality of the late 19th and early 20th century. What is little known, however, is that Mahler wrote chamber music when he was young. While at the Vienna Conservatory, while a student of Robert Fuchs, he twice won prizes for movements for Piano Quintet.  Unfortunately for posterity, he destroyed these works along with others he was known to have written. The only piece of chamber music of his which is known to have survived is a movement from a Piano Quartet also composed while he was at the Conservatory in 1876. It shows the influence of Schubert and to a lesser degree Brahms without actually sounding a great deal like either of those composers. It is an interesting and important work because it is virtually the only example of his early writing which provides us with a view of his early compositional technique, which as one can hear, was quite developed at this early date.


It remained unpublished until the late 1970's. Since then it has appeared in a few other editions, all with Mahler's copious instructions as to tempo and expression in German rather than the traditional Italian. Our edition is the first to substitute the universal Italian terminology for the lesser used and often obscure German. For example, "mit leidenschaft" is rendered "con passione", or "etwas langsamer" is rendered "meno mosso", making our edition far easier to read and understand without in anyway changing the music or the composer's intention.

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