- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 30, 2002

TEL AVIV An American musicologist leafing through an old score of Gustav Mahler's First Symphony has found several previously unknown corrections in the composer's own hand that will forever change the way the widely loved symphony is played.
Charles Zachary Bornstein found it by chance at the library of the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem while preparing to teach a course dedicated to Mahler's symphonies.
The pages of one score contained seemingly countless changes, all in the same tight musical penmanship and all in bright red ink.
"That symphony defines the 20th century," Mr. Bornstein said during a recent interview in his Tel Aviv hotel.
"It reflects the tension generated by burgeoning nationalism that characterized the Austro-Hungarian empire," he said, implying that Mahler, a Jew who converted to Christianity, had a foreboding intuition about the horror and suffering of two world wars that lay ahead.
Mr. Bornstein said he recognized immediately that some of the revisions conformed to the melodic and majestic symphony's standard version but noticed that many others did not.
His hunch that this particular copy was the final and authentic version annotated by the composer himself turned out to be right.
First, Israeli police forgery experts verified that the inscriptions were Mahler's. Then, the world's foremost Mahler expert, Henry-Louis de La Grange, a French musicologist, concurred. Finally, maestro Zubin Mehta, musical director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, agreed.
During a meeting with Mr. Bornstein, Mr. Mehta told of how once, during a stint with the New York Philharmonic, he had encountered Mahler's penmanship.
Mr Mehta in studying a score by the 19th-century German composer Robert Schumann that Mahler had used during his final tour with the New York Philharmonic in 1911 saw the red-ink changes in style identical to those on the just-discovered Mahler score.
The still-unanswered question is how the ultimate and definitive score of Mahler's First Symphony made its way to Jerusalem.
There are indications that it may have been obtained from one of Mahler's contemporaries, the late Ben-Zion Halpern, who emigrated to Israel from Central Europe.
"But nobody knows who he was," said Mr. Bornstein, of Buffalo, N.Y. He had just arrived in Israel to live and teach in Jerusalem's Academy of Music and to conduct as well.
Mr. Bornstein said he hopes to lead one of Israel's orchestras in a world premiere of Mahler's First Symphony, played strictly in accordance with the Czech-born composer's express wishes.
It will have flutes playing passages which hitherto were performed by oboes and vice versa. There will be sections in which the multiple trumpets will be reduced to only one or replaced by French horns.
Eventually, the Vienna, Austria-based Board of Editors, which supervises Mahler's scores, is likely to confirm the supremacy of the newly found score.
Contacted in Marrakech, Morocco, where he has been working on the English text of his detailed biography of Mahler (the original French edition spanned 3,000 pages) due to be published by the Oxford University Press, Mr. de La Grange said:
"As much as I can be sure of anything, it is Mahler's own handwriting."
He described Mahler as an artist who "never was satisfied with his scores" and as "one of the greatest orchestrators of expressionism."
"No one was greater," he said.
Mr. Bornstein first encountered Mahler's greatness while studying in Vienna under the late Hans Swarowski, who conducted the Wiener StaatsOper the Vienna Court Opera and who was instrumental in introducing Mahler's music to 20th-century concert audiences.
"Swarowski was a true pedagogue," Mr. Bornstein recalled, noting that Mr. Mehta also came to study Mahler with him.
In her seminal work, "Hitler's Vienna," Brigitte Hamann points out that Adolf Hitler first heard Richard Wagner's works under the baton of Mahler at the Vienna Court Opera.
The program consisted of "Tristan and Isolde."
"Hitler was overwhelmed," Mr. Bornstein said, observing concurrently that Wagner was the chief source of Mahler's musical inspiration.
Miss Hamann relates that Mahler resigned as director of the Austrian Court Opera in 1907 because, after 10 years there, he was unnerved by anti-Semitism.
That same year, he accepted an offer from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Mr. Bornstein said the Nazi animosity toward Mahler was intensified by Austrian critics who accused him of "mixing high art with low art" by combining folk and ethnic themes with his own, original melodic lines. "In addition, he was reviled because he was Jewish."
Eventually, Hitler banned Mahler's works because they were composed by a Jew.
Mr. de la Grange told of Mahler's death on May 18, 1911.
"He fell victim to a heart ailment known as endocarditis," he said, terming it an infectious disease that may have been curable had antibiotics been available then.
But this pharmaceutical breakthrough did not occur until 17 years later.
Mahler cut short his scheduled series with the New York Philharmonic and returned to Vienna, where he died.


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