Mahler's 'Resurrection' manuscript settles in Cleveland

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Mahler's 'Resurrection' manuscript settles in Cleveland
In a photo provided by David A. Brichford, the Cleveland Orchestra shows, the score is unaltered, unbound and marked in blue crayon with Gustav Mahler’s own edits. The Cleveland Orchestra has been given the autograph score, which was sold at auction to a previously anonymous buyer for $5.6 million. David A. Brichford, the Cleveland Orchestra via The New York Times.

by David Allen

NEW YORK, NY.- When Gustav Mahler took the New York Philharmonic to Cleveland for a concert in December 1910, he drove critic Miriam Russell, of The Plain Dealer, to paroxysms of prose:

Little Mahler with the big brain.

Little Mahler with the mighty force.

Little Mahler with the great musical imagination.

That, however, was to be his sole appearance there; by the following spring, he was dead.

An important piece of Mahleriana will nevertheless now reside in Ohio for good. The Cleveland Orchestra announced Tuesday that it had received the manuscript of Mahler’s Second Symphony as a gift. And in doing so, it revealed the identity of the mystery buyer who paid $5.6 million for that autograph score in 2016: Herbert G. Kloiber, an Austrian media mogul.

“He’s very much in the family,” André Gremillet, the orchestra’s president and chief executive, said of Kloiber, who is a trustee and chairs its European advisory board. “Given his deep knowledge and love of music, the fact that it’s coming from him has special meaning to us. It’s not just any collector who bought the score.”

Kloiber, 74, who built his Tele München Group into a major European media company before selling it to the investment firm KKR in 2019, said that his decision to buy the Mahler manuscript had reflected a lifelong interest in music, as well as a friendship.

The godson of conductor Herbert von Karajan, Kloiber ran the production company Unitel, which made several renowned films of performances, before founding Clasart Classic in 1976. Clasart distributes Met in HD broadcasts internationally, and has made visual recordings of the Clevelanders playing Bruckner and Brahms with their music director, Franz Welser-Möst.

Through his business dealings, Kloiber met Gilbert Kaplan, a Mahler devotee who had bought the 232-page manuscript in 1984 from the foundation of Willem Mengelberg, a Dutch conductor who had received it from the composer’s widow, Alma. Kaplan, a financial publisher with no musical training, was obsessed with the “Resurrection,” as the work is known, and controversially conducted it with leading orchestras, recording it twice.

“We had both sold a piece of our companies to Capital Cities, the owner of the ABC network, so every year we gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Biltmore Hotel for a corporate retreat,” Kloiber said. “Whilst everybody else was doing horse routes or playing golf, we were sitting at the bar talking about Gustav Mahler, and his particular inclination to the Second Symphony.”

When Kaplan died in 2016, he left the manuscript to his widow with the intention that it be sold. Kloiber’s winning bid at Sotheby’s that November set a record for a manuscript score at auction. The acquisition was anonymous, but not entirely a secret.

“We agreed to have a coffee in Vienna,” Welser-Möst said, recalling a meeting from a few years ago with Kloiber, a friend. “I knew he had bought it, but that was it. He showed up with a black briefcase. We sat down for coffee — you know, chatty, chatty — and it was like in one of those spy films. He pushed the briefcase underneath the table and said, ‘Have a look at it.’”

For Welser-Möst, who occupied Mahler’s post of general music director at the Vienna State Opera from 2010 to 2014, examining the pristinely preserved manuscript — unaltered, unbound and marked in blue crayon with the composer’s own edits — was an emotional experience, not to mention a nerve-racking one. The clarity of Mahler’s handwriting convinced him, he said, that his scores ought to be followed to the letter.

“When I opened the score in our apartment in Vienna, I got really teary,” Welser-Möst said. “How close can you get to a masterpiece, whatever it is? You can’t get any closer than that, and to have that intimate moment just for myself, not being in a museum and pushing other people to the side to get a glimpse of it, that was really a very special moment in my life.”

He hid the manuscript under his bed, then returned it three days later.

Kloiber, who admires the Cleveland Orchestra’s commitment to its youth programs and has been a board member since 2010, told officials that he would give them the manuscript in 2019, after a Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra concert at St. Florian, the abbey near Linz, Austria, where Bruckner was organist.

“They are a lovely lot,” Kloiber said. “I like the way they are run and come on all these tours, and make a really big effort for the United States to be present on the European concert circuit.”

Selections from the manuscript will be displayed at Severance Hall in a free public showing on Wednesday, and for ticket holders at the orchestra’s season-opening performances of the “Resurrection” on Thursday and Friday. The score will then be housed nearby at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which is led by William M. Griswold, the former director of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, where several of Mahler’s other manuscripts are held.

“It will be kept permanently at the museum,” Gremillet said. “We are still working on where it will be exhibited, but we want people to see that score. Certainly this is going to be a great source of pride for Cleveland as a whole, in addition to the Cleveland Orchestra.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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