Cleveland Museum of Art to Display Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ Autograph Manuscript

By Chris Ruel
Credit: Public Domain

The Cleveland Orchestra has revealed that Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” autograph manuscript will be showcased at the Cleveland Museum of Art from Oct. 3, 2023, to Feb. 11, 2024.

This treasured manuscript, donated by Dr. Herbert G. Kloiber in 2020, is momentous, being the only autograph manuscript of the complete symphony available and comprises Mahler’s deletions, alterations, and annotations made from 1888 to 1894. The symphony explores the quest for meaning in life and death with over 100 musicians, soloists, a chorus, and off-stage brass and percussion.

The manuscript originally belonged to Mahler’s widow, Alma, who passed it to Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg. After Mengelberg’s death, The Mengelberg Foundation held it until it was stored at the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague in 1982. American financial publisher Gilbert Kaplan acquired it in 1984, and after his passing in 2016, it was auctioned at Sotheby’s, where Kloiber made an anonymous purchase.

In an official press release, Franz Welser-Möst, Cleveland Orchestra Music Director, stated, “Upon looking at the pages, two things immediately struck me. 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 will be placed near Antonio Canova’s 1816 marble sculpture, Terpsichore Lyran, in the Monte and Usha Ahuja Founders Rotunda. Afterward, the manuscript will return to climate-controlled storage at the museum when not on view. André Gremillet, President and CEO of The Cleveland Orchestra, expressed gratitude in an official statement, stating, “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.”