April 1, 2011 at 7:04 PM
The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra will be performing Mahler's 2nd symphony this month; I received the music in the mail yesterday and pulled it out for a run-through. Having never played Mahler before, I found the German markings both mysterious and amusing. I took a guess at them before digging out the translations that had been sent with the music. For the most part, I'd been surprisingly correct.
Here is the glossary of terms, for those of you who will be playing Mahler any time soon and may need help:
(Thanks, David McCormick!)
GERMAN – ENGLISH
Langsam – Slowly
Schleppend – Slowly
Dampfer auf – Slowly
Mit Dampfer – Slowly
Allmahlich in das Hauptzeitmass ubergehen – Do not look at the conductor
Im Anfang sehr gemaechlich – In intense inner torment
Alle Betonungen sehr zart - With more intense inner torment
Getheilt (geth.) – Out of tune
Von hier an in sehr allmaehlicher aber stetiger Steigerung bis zum Zeichen – From this point on, the spit valves should be emptied with ever-increasing emotion
Hier ist ein frisches belebtes Zeitmass eingetreten – Slowly
Haupttempo – Slowly
Noch ein wenig beschleunigend – Slowing down but with a sense of speeding up
Immer noch zurueckhaltend - With steadily decreasing competence
Sehr gemaechlich – With indescribably horrific inner torment
Etwas bewegter, aber immer noch sehr ruhig – Somewhat louder, though still inaudible as before
Alle Betonungen sehr zart – With smallish quantities of fairly mild inner torment
Gemaechlich – Intermission
Ganz unmerklich etwas zurueckhaltend - Slowly
Etwas gemaechlicher als zuvor – Slowly
Von hier ab unmerklich breiter werden – As if wild animals were gnawing on your liver
Ohne cresc. – Without toothpaste
Immer noch etwas zurueckhaltend – Slowly
Vorwaerts draengend – Slowly
Hauptzeitmass - Slowly
Allmaehlich etwas lebhafter – Screaming in agony
Ohne Nachschl(age) – Without milk (sugar)
Kraeftig bewegt – Slowly
Mit dem Holze zu streichen – Like a hole in the head
Mit Parodie – Viola solo
Sehr einfach und schlicht, wie eine Volksweise – Slowly
Daempfer ab - Eyes closed
Ploetzlich viel schneller – Even more ploddingly
Den ersten Ton scharf herausgehoben – Do not play until the buzzer sounds
Am Griffbrett – As if in tune
Aeusserst zart, aber ausdrucksvoll – Radiantly joyful, despite the itching
Wieder zurueckhaltend - Increasingly decreasing
Noch breiter als vorher – Better late than never
Nicht eilen – No eels
Allmaehlich (unmerklich) etwas zurueckhaltend – Much faster (slower) than conductor
Lang gestrichen – Heads up
Lang gezogen – Heads back down
Die werden allmaehlich staerker und staerker bis zum (fp) - In the event of a water landing, your sat cushion may be used as a flotation device.
Immer noch zurueckhaltend... says it all really.
To give credit where credit is due, it seems this list was originally shared on April Fool's Day 2009 with the New Philharmonia Orchestra in Newton Mass.
still my fav: Mit Parodie – Viola solo ;)
I got a copy of this from playing Mahler a year or so ago. They apply equally to Brahms ;)
You will have so much fun!
For a german speaking person it's still more funny if the difference between "a" an "ä" res. "ae" is ignored like here:
Dampfer auf - steamboat up
Mit Dampfer - with steamboat
Here the translation "slowly" is adequate :-)
Wonderful! I am not a fan of Mahler's, but I do know that if you play it without feeling and projecting excruciating inner torment with every beat, it ain't authentic.
A wonderful Hoffnungesque parody. Decades ago, as a teenager, I adored Mahler (In my geezerdom, I only listen to chamber music.) studying the scores with missionary zeal. Whatever you might think of his music, one thing does stand out from his annotations in his own, as well as other composers' scores: He must have been an absolutely brilliant conductor, keenly attuned to the most subtile nuances of pace, balance and structure. I would have loved to have played under him.
You mean that there is no marking that says "gaze at your navel"?
There's a caricature from 1907 with Mahler staring at a pile of hammers, cowbells, ratchets etc., saying
"Damn! I forgot the hooter. Now I'll have to write another symphony!"
These jokes, I've not yet scratched the surface of the full depth of their meaning.
Oh, Richard, I'm not sure you would have loved playing under him. He's the one who, as a conductor, supposedly asked for 72 rehearsals to prepare an orchestra for a Wagner opera. Can you imagine? Can you say OCD? (Management did say no to this request.) The only thing longer than some of these German compound words is a Mahler symphony. We played the fifth a month ago, and there's really about 45 minutes or so of terrific music there.
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