Download Mahler in Utah : Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony`s

Survey
yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Conducting wikipedia, lookup

Program music wikipedia, lookup

Orchestration wikipedia, lookup

Choral symphony wikipedia, lookup

Transcript
University of Iowa
Iowa Research Online
Theses and Dissertations
Spring 2016
Mahler in Utah : Maurice Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony's performances and recordings of
Gustav Mahler's symphonies (1951-1979)
Shih-Ni Prim
University of Iowa
Copyright 2016 Shih-Ni Prim
This dissertation is available at Iowa Research Online: http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/3167
Recommended Citation
Prim, Shih-Ni. "Mahler in Utah : Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony's performances and recordings of Gustav Mahler's
symphonies (1951-1979)." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2016.
http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd/3167.
Follow this and additional works at: http://ir.uiowa.edu/etd
Part of the Music Commons
MAHLER IN UTAH:
MAURICE ABRAVANEL AND THE UTAH SYMPHONY’S PERFORMANCES
AND RECORDINGS OF GUSTAV MAHLER’S SYMPHONIES
(1951–1979)
by
Shih-Ni Prim
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree in Music in the
Graduate College of
The University of Iowa
May 2016
Thesis Supervisor: Assistant Professor Nathan Platte
Copyright by
SHIH-NI PRIM
2016
All Rights Reserved
Graduate College
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
CERTIFICATE OF APPROVAL
____________________________
PH.D. THESIS
_________________
This is to certify that the Ph.D. thesis of
Shih-Ni Prim
has been approved by the Examining Committee for
the thesis requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy degree
in Music at the May 2016 graduation.
Thesis Committee:
____________________________________________
Nathan Platte, Thesis Supervisor
____________________________________________
Robert Cook
____________________________________________
Christine Getz
____________________________________________
Trevor Harvey
____________________________________________
Waltraud Maierhofer
To Ming-Chieh Sun, Tsai-Hsien Chien, and Fu-Sheng Sun
ii
“I tried to let the music speak. I did not try to make Mahler more Mahler.
Mahler didn’t try to be different – he was different. But he was also part of the
Austrian musical heritage. So, when I conducted Mahler,
I didn’t try to perform his music as a music of extremes.”
Maurice Abravanel
“Seeing Mahler Mahler’s Way,” The New York Times, 9 June 1991.
iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
People say it takes a village to raise a child. It is the same for writing a
dissertation. Many people have helped me along the way. If I have forgotten anyone,
please know that I am grateful nevertheless.
First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for my advisor,
Dr. Nathan Platte. Although I am his first advisee, he led me through the process as if he
had done it many times. He consistently provided insightful suggestions, asked thoughtful
questions, and cheered me on. He made the long process more enjoyable.
I would like to thank my committee for their suggestions, advice, and critical
questions. In addition, Dr. Robert Cook turned my attention to the big picture, Dr.
Christine Getz provided guidance on writing, Dr. Trevor Harvey lent insight about
technological history and the Utah community, and Dr. Waltraud Maierhofer offered
feedback with meticulous attention. I cannot ask for a better committee.
Many archivists and librarians have been extremely helpful: Juli Huddleston at the
Special Collections of the University of Utah; Lisa Chaufty at the McKay Music Library
of the University of Utah; Maureen Conroy and Jon Miles, and Renee Huang at the Utah
Symphony; and Anne Rhodes at the Oral History of American History at Yale University.
My home library at the University of Iowa and its interlibrary loan and article delivery
services were indispensable.
I would like to thank the School of Music and the Writing Center at the University
of Iowa for having me as a teaching assistant. The assistantships provided financial help
and, more importantly, invaluable experience in teaching music and tutoring writing.
These positions might not be directly related to my dissertation, but I would not have been
iv
able to finish the dissertation without these experiences. A scholarship from the Ministry
of Education in Taiwan also provided financial assistance and allowed me to explore
potential dissertation topics early on in my study.
I would like to thank my readers, Michele Aichele, Adrian Elcock, Stevie Otto,
Peter Prim, and Haoyang Yan. They read different parts of the manuscripts at various
points, offered helpful suggestions, and asked insightful questions. Many friends’ moral
support was crucial in the process. I want to thank Hsiu-Wen Chang for her help on
German translations and continuous support and encouragement.
My heartiest thanks go to Ardean Watts, who shared his precious memories of
Abravanel with me and has been nothing but warm and encouraging. I would also like to
thank James Zychowicz and Lewis Smoley for helping with some particularly obscure
questions and having intriguing conversations about Mahler.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my family in Taiwan for believing in me
and Peter and Henry for bringing joy and balance into my daily life.
v
ABSTRACT
In the 1960s, Gustav Mahler’s music received renewed interest in America. While
certain champions of Mahler from this period, such as Leonard Bernstein and Bruno
Walter, have attracted scholarly attention, other conductors have been largely overlooked,
including Maurice Abravanel (1903–1993). During Abravanel’s directorship of the Utah
Symphony (1947–1979), he consistently programmed Mahler’s music, making the
orchestra the first American orchestra to record all of Mahler’s symphonies. Although the
concerts contributed meaningfully to Utah’s musical life and some of the recordings were
well-received by critics in and outside America, they remain marginalized in accounts of
Mahler’s music in America. To bridge this gap, the dissertation examines primary sources,
including concert and record reviews, program notes, correspondence, and interview
transcripts to present the history, reception, and influence of Abravanel’s Mahler journey
with the Utah Symphony. By examining the musical past of a Western city and
considering musical and extramusical factors, this dissertation demonstrates that local and
technological histories influenced musical decisions, all of which in turn played a role in
the growth of the Utah Symphony and planted Mahler’s music in the community.
The examination reveals that Abravanel’s Mahler carried different meanings for
different parties. The recordings, with low prices and superior sound, were recommended
by critics and welcomed by audiophiles and music lovers. Abravanel’s interpretations
were commonly criticized as dispassionate, yet were embraced by those who did not
prefer Bernstein’s more involved, dramatic readings. Through the recordings of Mahler’s
music, the Utah Symphony gained national and international acclaim. In Salt Lake City,
Mahler became a familiar name, and his music remains integral to the city’s music
vi
culture. As of the completion of this dissertation, the Utah Symphony is nearing the end a
two-season (2014–2016) Mahler cycle and has recorded two symphonies by Mahler
under music director Thierry Fischer. The McKay Music Library of the University of
Utah is digitizing Abravanel’s Mahler scores and documenting memories about
Abravanel’s endeavors with the Austrian composer’s music. The concerts, recordings,
and efforts to preserve history again bring the collective memories of Abravanel’s Mahler
back to the community.
vii
PUBLIC ABSTRACT
The ever-increasing popularity of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)
has been largely attributed to conductors such as Leonard Bernstein and Bruno Walter,
overshadowing other Mahler champions’ efforts. As the music director of the Utah
Symphony between 1947 and 1979, Maurice Abravanel (1903–1993) consistently
programmed Mahler’s music in subscription concerts and on tour. Under Abravanel’s
direction the Utah Symphony was the first American orchestra to record all of Mahler
symphonies. To understand Abravanel’s endeavors with Mahler’s music, this dissertation
examines primary sources, including concert and record reviews, program notes,
correspondence, and interview transcripts. By examining the musical past of a Western
city and considering musical and extramusical factors, this dissertation demonstrates that
local and technological histories influenced musical decisions, all of which in turn played
a role in the growth of the Utah Symphony and planted Mahler’s music in the community.
These documents show that Abravanel’s Mahler recordings provided cheaper options
with good sound and competitive interpretations to the general public, thereby promoting
Mahler’s music and elevating the Utah Symphony’s standing. All together, the conductor,
the orchestra musicians, the record company (Vanguard Records), and the community’s
musical resources helped turn Mahler into a local favorite, whose music is now integral to
the city’s history.
viii
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................. xi
LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... xii
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 1
Purpose ............................................................................................................................ 3
Literature Review ............................................................................................................ 4
Summary of Primary Sources ....................................................................................... 10
Organization .................................................................................................................. 12
CHAPTER 2. SALT LAKE CITY, THE UTAH SYMPHONY, AND MAURICE
ABRAVANEL .................................................................................................................. 14
Salt Lake City’s Choral Tradition ................................................................................. 14
The Utah Symphony...................................................................................................... 19
Maurice Abravanel ........................................................................................................ 23
Expanding Seasons and Programming Newer Works ............................................... 30
CHAPTER 3. RECORDING MARKET, VANGUARD, AND THE UTAH
SYMPHONY’S RECORDING CAREER ....................................................................... 35
Recording Industry ........................................................................................................ 35
Vanguard Records ......................................................................................................... 40
The Utah Symphony’s Recording Career ..................................................................... 42
Early Recordings ....................................................................................................... 45
Partnership with Westminster .................................................................................... 49
Partnership with Vanguard ........................................................................................ 53
The Louisville Orchestra: A Similar Story ................................................................... 65
CHAPTER 4. MAHLER IN UTAH, 1951–1964 ............................................................. 69
Performances of Mahler’s Music in Utah from 1951 to 1961 ...................................... 71
The 1950s .................................................................................................................. 72
The 1960s .................................................................................................................. 75
Eighth Symphony, “Symphony of a Thousand” ........................................................... 78
Premieres ................................................................................................................... 79
Concert in Salt Lake City: December 7, 1963 ........................................................... 81
Recording Sessions and the Making of the Recording .............................................. 85
Record Reviews ......................................................................................................... 88
ix
Seventh Symphony...................................................................................................... 107
Concert in Salt Lake City ........................................................................................ 109
Recording Sessions .................................................................................................. 111
Record Reviews ....................................................................................................... 111
Abravanel, Bernstein, and Mahler............................................................................... 126
Awards and Letters...................................................................................................... 132
Conclusion................................................................................................................... 136
CHAPTER 5. MAHLER IN UTAH, 1965–1979 ........................................................... 137
1965–1969: Recording Mahler’s Second, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Symphonies ...... 139
Recording Mahler’s Second Symphony (1967) ...................................................... 140
Recording Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (1968) ....................................................... 147
Recording Mahler’s Third and Ninth Symphonies (1969) ...................................... 153
Completing the Mahler Recording Cycle (1974) ........................................................ 161
1975–1979: After the Mahler Cycle............................................................................ 177
Conclusion................................................................................................................... 188
CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSION........................................................................................ 190
Future Directions ......................................................................................................... 197
BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................................................................................................... 199
x
LIST OF TABLES
Table 4.1: Performances of Mahler’s Music in Utah, 1951–1961 .................................... 71
Table 4.2: Tempo comparison, mm. 1–47 of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, first
movement ....................................................................................................... 100
Table 4.3: Tempo comparison, mm. 50–95 of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, first
movement ....................................................................................................... 120
Table 5.1: Performances and Recording Sessions of Mahler’s Music in Utah,
1966–1969 ...................................................................................................... 139
Table 5.2: Tempo comparison, mm. 194–239 of Mahler’s Second Symphony, fifth
movement ....................................................................................................... 145
Table 5.3: Performances and Recording Sessions of Mahler’s Music in Utah,
1971–1974 ...................................................................................................... 162
Table 5.4: Performances of Mahler’s Music in Utah, 1975–1979 .................................. 177
xi
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 2.1: Abravanel and the Utah Symphony in 1964 .................................................. 29
Figure 2.2: Abravanel conducting at the Mormon Tabernacle ......................................... 30
Figure 2.3: Abravanel conducting an education concert .................................................. 31
Figure 2.4: Abravanel with school children ...................................................................... 32
Figure 5.1: Abravanel’s score of Mahler’s First Symphony, first movement,
mm. 56–70, p. 19 .......................................................................................... 170
Figure 5.2: Abravanel’s score of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, table of contents ............. 174
Figure 5.3: Abravanel’s score of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, first movement,
mm. 121–127, p. 24 ...................................................................................... 175
xii
CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Maurice Abravanel (1903–1993) was the music director of the Utah Symphony from
1947 to 1979. The performances and recordings of Mahler’s symphonies under his baton
changed the orchestra and the community. When the Utah Symphony’s first Mahler
recording, the Eighth Symphony, was released in 1964, record reviews praised the
conductor’s stylistic interpretation, the musicians’ efforts, and the sound quality. Robert
Marsh’s remarks, for example, extolled the maestro’s reading:
Abravanel’s performance is a sympathetic one, stylistically in keeping with the
work of Mahler’s friends and disciples, and demonstrating firm control over the
unusually ample vocal and instrumental forces. Like Walter, Abravanel has
mastered the trick of giving unity to Mahler’s more discursive pages, and the
performance is impressive in its firm line and steady progression from one climax
to another.1
Its next recording, of Mahler’s Seventh, was released in the following year and again
received enthusiastic praises. The Utah Symphony’s recordings of Mahler symphonies
were initially embraced by critics, giving the orchestra an unprecedented level of
exposure. The early enthusiasm, however, was later tempered by competition from other
conductors and more elite ensembles. Abravanel’s deliberate approach—which strove to
“let the music speak”—was faulted as lacking.2
In recent years, most scholarly publications about Mahler briefly mention or
neglect altogether Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s contributions. Lewis Smoley’s
remarks on these recordings counter the exuberant reception in the 1960s. In his 1986
1
Robert Marsh, “Stereo and Hi-Fi: the Mahler 8th,” Chicago Sun-Time, 25 May 1964, Maurice Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25, Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library,
Salt Lake City, Utah.
2
Maurice Abravanel’s words quoted in Gerold Gold’s “Seeing Mahler Mahler’s Way,” The New York
Times, 9 June 1991, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 119.
1
review of Abravanel’s recording of the Eighth Symphony, for example, he writes off
Abravanel’s rendition as “uninteresting,” “mediocre,” and “colorless.”3 Edward Reilly’s
1999 article on the reception of Mahler in America reviews the mixed reception of
Mahler’s sojourn in New York and the early reception of Mahler’s music from the
composer’s death in 1911 to the 1960s but gives little attention to Abravanel.4 When
Reilly discusses the variety of factors that fueled the new popularity of Mahler’s music
from the 1960s, he simply lists Abravanel with Leonard Bernstein, Sir Georg Solti,
Bernard Haitink, and Rafael Kubelik, who produced the first Mahler cycles.5 More
recently, Smoley again merely mentions Abravanel’s Mahler cycle with the Utah
Symphony and lists Abravanel with other Mahler conductors before or during the 1980s.6
Although Abravanel is recognized as one of the first Mahler conductors, the details of his
recordings, the contemporary reception of them, and the Utah community’s embrace of
Mahler have been overlooked.
Changing attitudes toward these recordings sparked my interest in the reception of
Abravanel’s performances and recordings during his tenure as music director of the Utah
Symphony. The reception of Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s Mahler recordings,
released between 1964 and 1975, bridges a gap in our understanding of the revival of
3
Lewis M. Smoley, The Symphonies of Gustav Mahler: a Critical Discography (New York: Greenwood
Press, 1986), 107.
4
Edward R. Reilly, “Mahler in America,” in The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald Mitchell and
Andrew Nicholson, 422–437 (Oxford University Press, 1999).
5
Ibid., 434–435.
6
Lewis M. Smoley, “Mahler conducted and recorded: from the concert hall to DVD,” in The Cambridge
Companion to Mahler, edited by Jeremy Barham (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 255, 258.
2
Mahler’s music in America.7 Rather than focusing on conductors who arguably leveraged
their own renown to champion Mahler’s music (such as Leonard Bernstein or Bruno
Walter), my dissertation considers how an accomplished but less prestigious conductor
and a regional orchestra used Mahler’s music to cultivate both local and international
interest in their work. This research therefore considers the influence of local community
and technology, and strives to paint a more complete picture of how music reception
could shape and be shaped by these contextual factors. More specifically, this dissertation
explores, on the one hand, the impact of Abravanel’s performances and recordings of
Mahler on the conductor’s career and the Utah Symphony’s growth; and, on the other
hand, how Mahler’s music came to be embraced in Salt Lake City and remains an
important part of the community.
Purpose
This dissertation connects the reception of Abravanel’s Mahler recordings to
institutional history. Indeed, Abravanel’s reliance upon recordings with the Utah
Symphony distinguished and preserved their partnership.8 Through recordings, audiences
7
Abravanel’s Mahler symphonic cycle was the only one by a single American orchestra until Seiji Ozawa
recorded a Mahler cycle with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1997.
8
To make recordings, the conductor and musicians found ways around the American Federation of
Musicians’ national pay rate for recordings. Philip Hart’s Orpheus in the New World points out that
Abravanel’s close relationship with the orchestra members influenced their willingness to be paid less for
recording sessions, and, although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the “Mormon Church”)
was not a major donor and the strict rule of tithing at the church made fund-raising for the orchestra more
difficult, the dominant culture of Mormonism in Salt Lake City (such as the belief of accepting a present
sacrifice for a future reward) essentially helped the growth of the orchestra. (Philip Hart, Orpheus in the
New World: the Symphony Orchestra as an American Cultural Institution (New York: W. W. Norton,
1973), 171.) Hart’s explanation is plausible, but Abravanel’s resolution to find revenues for the orchestra
and more income for musicians was strong and his decision to go into recordings was more crucial than the
general culture and the church’s influence.
3
throughout the world came to know the orchestra. Among them, their Mahler recordings
on the Vanguard label won critical acclaim and helped prove the Utah Symphony’s
capabilities. Furthermore, Vanguard Records’ diligence in using the newest
technologies—stereo or four-track sound—and applying low prices to remain
competitive in the market helped sell the recordings. Considering these factors, the
dissertation demonstrates how these recordings of Mahler’s symphonies helped expand
the Utah Symphony’s name across the country and world, essentially helping the
orchestra survive.
The dissertation also examines how Abravanel’s recordings with the Utah
Symphony started a Mahler-centered tradition in Salt Lake City, the first Western city to
pride itself on such an achievement. Abravanel programmed all of Mahler’s symphonies,
except for the Sixth Symphony, in subscription concerts and on tour throughout his
directorship. The performances before 1974 helped the orchestra prepare for the
upcoming recordings, and those after offered the audience another round of live Mahler
concerts. Altogether the Utahn audience received two almost complete tours of Mahler’s
symphonic works between 1951 and 1979.
Literature Review
When considering the reception of Mahler’s music, musicologists commonly
choose a place or champion as the vantage point. A series of articles about Mahler’s
music in certain countries are included in The Mahler Companion.9 Among them, Henry-
9
Henry-Louis De La Grange, “Mahler and France,” 138–152; Kenji Aoyagi, “Mahler and Japan,” 531–538;
and Donald Mitchell, “The Mahler Renaissance in England: Its Origins and Chronology,” 547–565. All of
4
Louis de La Grange discusses the reception of Mahler’s works in France in the
composer’s life time and performances of Mahler’s music after his death.10 David Paul’s
dissertation “Converging Paths to the Canon” shows how American intellectual history
shaped the discourse on the music of Charles Ives and Gustav Mahler between 1911 and
1965. For instance, during the Cold War period, the modernistic aspect of Mahler’s music
was especially welcomed, because “conflicts and tension were to be expected in free
society, and were not only signs of its health, but its definitive characteristics.”11 These
studies reflect the interaction between place and music while contemplating place
through music. They inspired me to look for how the Utah Symphony’s Mahler project
was shaped by the local populace, its musical resources, and the religious background of
the community.
Other studies focus on champions of Mahler’s music. Christopher Page’s
dissertation, for example, centers around Bernstein’s promotion of Mahler’s music and its
impact on the so-called Mahler revival of the 1960s. Bernstein’s celebrity status and
passionate conducting style helped boost Mahler’s fame but overshadowed the
contributions of other conductors, including Abravanel. Page’s dissertation traces the
reception history of Mahler through Bernstein, attributing Mahler’s rising status to
Bernstein’s glamorous career.12 According to Page, Bernstein’s feelings of personal
them are in The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson (Oxford University
Press, 1999).
10
Henry-Louis De La Grange, “Mahler and France,” in The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald Mitchell
and Andrew Nicholson, 138–152 (Oxford University Press, 1999).
11
David Christopher Paul, “Converging Paths to the Canon: Charles Ives, Gustav Mahler, and American
Culture” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2006), xiv.
12
Christopher Jarrett Page, “Leonard Bernstein and the Resurrection of Gustav Mahler” (Ph.D. diss.,
University of California at Los Angeles, 2000).
5
connection with Mahler motivated the conductor to interpret it with more exaggerated
manners. In addition to Page’s work on Bernstein, Matthew Mugmon’s dissertation
considers Mahler’s ascension through Nadia Boulanger, Aaron Copland, Koussevitzky,
and Leonard Bernstein and, more importantly, how they made Mahler a predecessor of
their aesthetic priorities in different ways.13 While Page’s and Mugmon’s research is
situated in America, Forest Randolph Kinnett’s dissertation examines music director
David Josef Bach’s influence on the reception of Mahler in Worker's Symphony Concerts
in Vienna from 1917 to 1931. Kinnett argues that Mahler’s time had already come in the
late imperial and First Republic Vienna.14 Considering the influence of individuals and
places, these three dissertations provide models for examining the reception of Mahler’s
music as promulgated by specific conductors, composers, and pedagogues.
Occasionally the orchestra itself is included in the study. Helge Grünewald
chronicles important performances of Mahler’s music by the Berlin Philharmonic from
1892 to 1994, conducted by major conductors such as Arthur Nikisch, Oskar Fried,
Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, and Claudio Abbado.15 The article is too short to examine
the influence of the community, but it is a rare instance that considers the orchestra’s role
in Mahler reception. My dissertation combines the aforementioned perspectives—place,
conductor, and orchestra—to investigate how the contextual factors influenced the
reception of performances and recordings of Mahler’s symphonies in Utah.
13
Matthew Steven Mugmon, “The American Mahler: Musical Modernism and Transatlantic Networks,
1920–1960” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2013), 4.
14
Forest Randolph Kinnett, “‘Now His Time Really Seems to Have Come’: Ideas about Mahler’s Music in
Late Imperial and First Republic Vienna” (Ph.D. diss., University of North Texas, 2009).
15
Helge Grünewald, “The Mahler Tradition of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,” in Collected Work:
Gustav Mahler: The World Listens, II: 147–149 (Haarlem, Netherlands: TEMA Uitgevers, 1995).
6
To better understand the role of the Utah Symphony in Abravanel’s promotion of
Mahler’s music, I consulted several orchestral studies. In The Perilous Life of Symphony
Orchestras, Robert Flanagan discusses the various factors that influence orchestra
finances. These include artistic and non-artistic costs and a variety of financial sources—
government support, private support, endowments, etc.16 Philip Hart’s Orpheus in the
New World examines the history of several American orchestras. Taking the Utah
Symphony as an example, Hart shows how the union’s approval to pay orchestra
members less than the required rates allowed the orchestra to make recordings, crucial to
the orchestra’s growth.17 Jeanne Belfy’s research on the Louisville Orchestra tells a
similar story in which commissioning and recording new works carried the orchestra
through hardships.18 These sources demonstrate a wide range of factors—from finances,
musicians’ cooperation, to commissioning new works—that could affect an orchestra’s
operation and motivate me to connect Abravanel’s musical decisions with the Utah
Symphony’s operation. For instance, the Utah Symphony’s financial instability might
have motivated the conductor to start recording under-performed works in the 1950s,
which later led to his recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.
Several studies provide important context about Abravanel, the Utah Symphony,
and the Utah community. To date, two books provide the most complete account of the
orchestra and the conductor. Lowell Durham’s Abravanel! is the only book-length
biography of the conductor and emphasizes Abravanel’s years as director of the Utah
16
Robert J. Flanagan, The Perilous life of Symphony Orchestras: Artistic Triumphs and Economic
Challenges (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2012).
17
Hart, Orpheus in the New World.
18
Jeanne Marie Belfy, “The Commissioning Project of the Louisville Orchestra, 1948–1958: A Study of
the History and Music” (Ph.D. diss., University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, 1986).
7
Symphony.19 Conrad Harrison’s Five Thousand Concerts gathers the history of the
orchestra through interviews.20 Durham and Harrison were also local music critics, who
regularly reviewed the Utah Symphony’s concerts and were supporters of the maestro
and the orchestra. Their books explore the conductor’s contributions to the musical world
and local community but lack footnotes. In addition, they cover a longer time span and
tend to be more chronological than critical. Relying on the facts, dates, and history
provided in these sources, my research provides archival documentation and critical
evaluation.
Also concerning the Utah community, Michael Hick’s Mormonism and Music and
Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography detail Utah’s long choral music tradition, a
consequence of the state’s Mormon communities.21 Hicks further notes that other musical
traditions were in place since the pioneers arrived in 1847. The Utah Symphony, for
example, has historical connections with the many military bands and theater orchestras
of the nineteenth century. Several theses from Brigham Young University examine such
musical ensembles and their conductors and include rich primary sources.22 These
19
Lowell M. Durham, Abravanel! (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1989).
20
Conrad B. Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts: A Commemorative History of the Utah Symphony (Salt
Lake City, Utah: Utah Symphony Society, 1986).
21
Michael Hicks, Mormonism and Music: A History, Music in American Life (Urbana, IL: University of
Illinois Press, 1989); Michael Hicks, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography (Urbana, IL: University
of Illinois Press, 2015).
22
Deane Wakley Brown, “Growth and Development of Utah Professional Symphonic Orchestras prior to
1940” (Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1959); Howard Hoggan Putnam, “George Edward
Percy Careless: His Contributions to the Musical Culture of Utah and the Significance of His Life and
Works” (Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1957); Alex D Smith, “The Symphony in America:
Maurice Abravanel, and the Utah Symphony Orchestra: The Battle for Classical Music” (Master’s thesis,
Brigham Young University, 2002); Lyneer Charles Smith, “Brigham Cecil Gates: Composer, Director,
Teacher of Music” (Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1952); Merlin Ray Sorensen, “The Ogden
Tabernacle Choir: Its History and Contributions to the Cultural History of Utah” (Master’s thesis, Brigham
Young University, 1961).
8
sources contextualize how Utah’s musical environment prepared its residents for
Mahler’s works, many of which include choruses.
This dissertation is also informed by research on recordings of Mahler’s music
and recording culture more generally. Two seminal Mahler discographies by Lewis
Smoley and Péter Fülöp provide encyclopedic information about Mahler recordings and
demonstrate the sharp increase in Mahler recordings beginning in the 1960s.23 They show
that Abravanel and the Utah Symphony were among the first to record Mahler’s
symphonies. Nevertheless, the quickly rising status of Mahler’s music, reflected in the
increase in performances and recordings, meant growing competition for the Utah
musicians from the time of their first recording to their last.
Some studies help construct the framework to view Abravanel’s recordings of
Mahler symphonies. Mark Katz’s Capturing Sound investigates the omnipresent
influence of recording technology on the way we listen to music through six important
characteristics of recordings—tangibility, portability, (in)visibility, repeatability,
temporality, receptivity, and manipulability.24 In contrast to Katz’s focus on more
concrete aspects such as the observable aspects of change, Arved Ashby’s Absolute
Music examines the vernacular practice of instrumental music and draws on philosophy
and literary theory to consider how recordings and art music have transformed in
response to new recording technologies. Among other arguments, Ashby addresses how
23
Lewis M. Smoley, The Symphonies of Gustav Mahler: A Critical Discography (New York: Greenwood
Press, 1986); Lewis M. Smoley, Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies Critical Commentary on Recordings since
1986 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996); Péter Fülöp, Mahler Discography (New York: Kaplan
Foundation , 1995).
24
Mark Katz, Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 2004), 8–47.
9
the access to recordings changed our memory of music.25 Before the age of recordings,
music scores represented the primary authority and performers had more room to make
musical and aesthetic decisions. In the age of recordings, the “carved-in-stone
performance of the one works to deny the elusiveness of the other, the diachronous
performance threatening the synchronous nature of the masterwork.”26 Indeed, as
recordings become more accessible, our memories of Mahler’s symphonies, for instance,
have been shaped more by recordings than by printed music or live performances. Katz
and Ashby view recordings as active agents and consider their effect in history. Although
my dissertation focuses on recording’s more immediate effect on the orchestra and the
community instead of its long-term effect on the society, these studies shaped the current
dissertation’s premise that Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s recordings of Mahler’s
symphonies should be considered as artifacts that effected changes.
Summary of Primary Sources
Three collections of primary documents are the foundation of this dissertation.
Maurice Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, at the Special Collections and Archives at the J.
Willard Marriott Library of the University of Utah is the most important of the three. The
documents are organized into 129 boxes, including the maestro’s personal papers,
notebooks, files from the orchestra, personal and professional correspondence, program
notes, news clippings collected by the orchestra, the orchestra’s files during Abravanel’s
25
Arved Mark Ashby, Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction (Berkeley: University of California Press,
2010), 60–90.
26
Ibid., 60–61.
10
directorship, transcripts of interviews with the maestro, etc. The reviews of concerts and
records, among the materials, shed particular light on the orchestra’s musical activities
and their reception. Bound program notes provide information on the orchestra’s
development and reveal the audience’s familiarity with the composer. Abravanel’s
personal books and music scores are housed at the Abravanel Studio at the McKay
Library of the University of Utah. Because the Utah Symphony performed Mahler’s
symphonic cycle in two seasons from 2014 to 2016, the McKay Library has been
digitizing Abravanel’s Mahler scores, and these offer invaluable resources for my
research. The conductor’s markings and notes in the scores help explain Abravanel’s
decisions. Lastly, the Utah Symphony archive contains photographs, clippings, and other
materials documenting the orchestra’s history.
More news articles and record reviews were obtained from Newspaper Archive,
American Radio History, and ProQuest databases to fill in the gaps left by the physical
archives.27 For instance, the relationship between the reception of Abravanel’s Mahler
recordings and technological history is revealed through record reviews in newspapers,
music journals, and magazines. Such reviews often address the quality of the recordings
and embrace advances in recording technology. In addition, a phone interview with
Ardean Watts, conducted by myself, and the transcript of a long interview with Maurice
Abravanel, conducted by Deborah Bookspan Margol and Martin Bookspan between
27
The first two databases’ links are http://newspaperarchive.com/ and
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/.
11
December 1985 and January 1985, provide insight into the maestro’s thoughts on
music.28
Organization
This introduction is followed by two chapters on contextual issues and two
chapters that chronologically present the Utah Symphony’s recordings and performances
of Mahler’s music. Chapter 2 discusses Utah’s choral tradition, the Utah Symphony’s
history, and Abravanel’s background. Chapter 3 addresses the recording industry,
Vanguard Records, the Utah Symphony’s recording output, and how the Louisville
Orchestra also gained recognition through recordings. These histories help explain why
Abravanel recorded Mahler’s choral works first and how a small company like Vanguard
agreed to record Mahler’s Eighth—a challenging and risky project—with a regional
orchestra. Chapter 4 narrates Abravanel’s Mahler performances from 1951 to the mid1960s and first two Mahler recordings—the Eighth (1963) and the Seventh (1964). These
recordings were well received and brought the Utah Symphony outside recognitions. The
reviews also revealed the increasingly popular status of Mahler and the encroachment of
Bernstein’s interpretations within the recording market. Chapter 5 examines the rest of
Abravanel’s Mahler journey from 1965 to 1979, during which he recorded the Second
(1967), Fourth (1968), Third and Ninth (1969), and First, Fifth, Sixth Symphonies and
Adagio of the Tenth Symphony (1974). Although the Utah Symphony made history by
28
Phone interview with author, 18 January 2016; Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel,
Oral History of American Music, Yale University, Interviewer: Deborah Bookspan Margol, 219 a–z, ff–oo.
The plan of interviewing Utah musicians was submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at
the University of Iowa in 2013. On December 13, 2013, Dr. Janet Karen Williams from the Human Subject
Office determined that the interviews did not need to be reviewed by the IRB.
12
becoming the first American orchestra to record all of Mahler’s symphonies, the
completion of the cycle in the mid-1970s aroused limited interest outside Utah. After the
recording project was finished, Abravanel continued to program Mahler’s music.
Together, the recording cycle and live concerts turned Mahler into a local favorite.
Chapter 6 discusses the conductor’s impact in Utah and the reissues of his Mahler
recordings. This final chapter also considers future directions for research, including the
value of examining regional orchestras and their conductors.
13
CHAPTER 2. SALT LAKE CITY, THE UTAH SYMPHONY, AND MAURICE
ABRAVANEL
In the summer of 1947, to celebrate the centennial of Salt Lake City, the University of
Utah held a Pioneer Centennial Celebration. The Utah Symphony and the University of
Utah Chorus performed local composer Crawford Gates’s Promised Valley. The
celebration became the first of the University of Utah’s summer festivals, a tradition that
has been maintained ever since. The successful celebration marked a turning point for the
Utah Symphony. Many previous attempts to build a permanent orchestra in Utah had
failed. The Utah Symphony’s most recent music director, Werner Janssen, arrived in
1946, imported outside musicians, and left after one season. Salt Lake City was ready for
a conductor who would stick with the orchestra through good times and bad. In October
1947, Maurice Abravanel arrived. He stayed for 32 years. Under his leadership the Utah
Symphony achieved stability and renown, accomplishments that were enabled in part
through Abravanel’s appreciation of Utah’s choral tradition and the established name of
the Tabernacle Choir. This chapter demonstrates how Salt Lake City’s choral tradition,
the Utah Symphony’s history, and Abravanel’s musical preferences led to their first
recording of a Mahler symphony in 1963.
Salt Lake City’s Choral Tradition
Salt Lake City’s musical life started when Mormon settlers arrived at the Salt
Lake Valley, a century before Abravanel assumed the directorship of the Utah Symphony.
With the intent of escaping the growing hostility towards their religion, the Latter-day
Saints started a migration led by Brigham Young from Illinois in 1846. Sixteen months
14
later, a group of 148 pioneers, including 143 men, three women, and two children,
arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 22, 1847. In this foreign land, which belonged to
Mexico and would become United States’ territory in four years, the Mormon pioneers
started a new life. Twenty-nine days after the pioneers’ arrival, the Mormon Tabernacle
Choir performed for the first time on August 22, 1847.1 The Tabernacle Choir established
the choral tradition in Utah’s sacred and secular settings.2 It provided music for religious
meetings and was the main vocal ensemble at the General Conferences (worldwide
gatherings for the church held every April and October). The Choir also gave concerts
outside the church and competed in singing competitions, starting with the World’s
Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.3 The group’s repertoire reflected the
preference of the music directors; some, like Evan Stephens (director from 1890 to 1916),
preferred original compositions, while others, like Tony Lund (1916–1935), leaned
towards art music.4 Mormon hymns, anthems, local composers’ works, music directors’
arrangement, secular songs, and choruses from operas and oratorios such as Handel’s
Hallelujah formed its repertoire.5 In the twentieth century, the Choir’s active
participation in radio, television, and recordings brought the names of Salt Lake and
1
“History of the Choir,” Mormon Tabernacle Choir,
http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/about/choir/history?lang=eng, accessed 12 April 2015.
2
The choir was named after its building and meeting place, the Tabernacle.
3
Michael Hicks, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press,
2015), 39–45, 57–58.
4
Michael Hicks, Mormonism and Music: A History, Music in American Life (Urbana: Urbana, IL:
University of Illinois Press, 1989), 157–158.
5
Ibid., 156–163.
15
Mormonism across the nation and the world.6 The choral tradition in Utah was enriched
by other tabernacle choirs formed in the 1860s in neighboring cities, including Spanish
Fork, Springville, Provo, and Ogden.7 They provided music for religious and secular
communities. The Ogden Tabernacle Choir, for example, was founded in the late 1850s
and remained in operation till 1949; like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake, the
Ogden Choir sang at religious conferences, made radio broadcasts, and went on tours.8
Although the Utah Symphony did not perform with the Tabernacle Choir until 1978, the
simple fact that their recordings were made in the Mormon Tabernacle lent their
recordings prestige by association, especially if the album contained choral music.
The choral tradition was also reflected in memorable performances. On June 3,
1875, a full performance of Handel’s Messiah was organized by George Careless, a
British immigrant and orchestra conductor active during the 1870s. The performance was
such a resounding success that John Tullidge, a British convert and the first significant
music critic in Utah, saw it as the starting point of musical culture in Utah.9 In 1883
Theodore Thomas led the New York Philharmonic in an all-classic concert in Salt Lake
City with a 250-voice choir, directed by a local conductor and composer Charles John
Thomas.10 In 1945, the Utah Symphony, conducted by Hans Heniot, and the Mormon
6
For more details about the Tabernacle Choir’s radio and television broadcast, tours, and recordings, see
Hicks’s The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
7
Ibid., 23–24. Although all these choirs could be called tabernacle choirs, the name “The Tabernacle Choir”
refers to the choir for the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake, of which the main part was finished in
1867, as this choir remains the most prominent choir.
8
Merlin Ray Sorensen, “The Ogden Tabernacle Choir, Its History and Contributions to the Cultural
History of Utah” (Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1961).
9
Hicks, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 27.
10
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 100–101.
16
Tabernacle Choir, directed by J. Spencer Cornwall, performed Haydn’s oratorio The
Creation, again showing the strong choral-orchestral tradition.
Many Utahn composers contributed to the tradition by writing oratorios and
cantatas. Brigham Cecil Gates studied at the New England Conservatory and the
Scharwenka Conservatory in Berlin between 1905 and 1913.11 He composed a
symphonic work Festival Overture in 1915, an oratorio The Restoration in 1916, a
symphony in 1917, and his own setting of The Lord’s Prayer in 1917.12 These works
were all performed in Utah, bringing a variety of symphonic and choral works to the
audience. Evan Stephens, the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle between 1890
and 1916, wrote two cantatas, The Vision and The Martyrs, in 1920–1921.13 Their titles
fittingly reflect the connection between religion and Salt Lake City’s choral tradition, as
both titles carry symbolic meanings for Mormon believers.14 The vision, for example,
refers to the fourteen-year-old Joseph Smith’s vision in which God and Jesus Christ
appeared before him.15 Leroy Robertson, who studied with George Chadwick in Boston
and started teaching at the Brigham Young University in 1925,16 supplied more works of
the Western classical style to the Utahn audience. Robertson entered a competition for all
composers in the Western hemisphere with his Trilogy for Orchestra and won the
Reichhold Award in 1947, which came with a $25,000 prize and that garnered him
11
Lyneer Charles Smith, “Brigham Cecil Gates: Composer, Director, Teacher of Music” (Master’s thesis,
Brigham Young University, 1952), 6, 8.
12
Ibid., 10, 12–15, 17–18.
13
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 175.
14
I would like to thank Dr. Trevor Harvey for pointing out the connection.
15
“First Vision Accounts,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
https://www.lds.org/topics/first-vision-accounts?lang=eng, accessed 17 April 2016.
16
Ibid., 176–177.
17
immediate fame.17 Robertson’s subsequent works, such as Punch and Judy Overture
(1945), Oratorio from the Book of Mormon (1953), and Violin Concerto (1966), would
later be programmed and recorded by Abravanel and the Utah Symphony.
Utah’s strong choral tradition provided resources for Abravanel’s programming.
Beginning in 1948, Abravanel and Leroy Robertson, the Music Department Chairman
President at the University of Utah, used the choirs of the University of Utah School of
Music for the orchestra’s performances.18 In a 1948 performance of Beethoven’s Missa
Solemnis, the A Cappella Choir directed by Richard P. Condie, the Girls’ Glee Club
directed by William Peterson, and the Boys’ Glee Club directed by John Marlowe
Nielson joined forces.19 Several other choral directors, including John Marlowe Nielson
(1948–1962), Newell B. Weight (1962–1982), and Ardean Watts, assisted with many
performances and recordings. Weight, a native of Utah, founded the Brigham Young
University’s A Capella Choir when he worked there from 1949 to 1962. From 1962 to
1984, he served as the chairman of the Music Department at the University of Utah.20
Weight founded the University of Utah Chorale in the mid-1960s, which started as “an
evening chorus of mature citizens who were not full-time students at the university, but
who had the voices, received the training and the discipline from him.”21 The name was
17
Lowell M. Durham, Abravanel! (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1989), 39–40.
18
“Utah Symphony Chorus History,” Utah Symphony, http://www.utahsymphony.org/theorchestra/content/14-chorus, accessed 3 June 2015.
19
Durham, Abravanel!, 46–47.
20
“Newell Bryan Weight,” Deseret News, 15 July 2009,
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/deseretnews/obituary.aspx?n=newell-bryan-weight&pid=129745372,
accessed 14 September 2015.
21
Lowell Durham, “Lowell Durham, Salt Lake City, Utah: an interview by Winnifred Margetts,” Everett L.
Cooley Oral History Project, Tape Nos. U-441 and U-442, 27 March 1986, 50.
18
then changed to Utah Chorale and later Utah Symphony Chorus Singers. Ardean Watts
was originally a jazz pianist. He moved to Salt Lake City in 1953 and met Abravanel in
1956. In 1957 the conductor asked him to fill in at a rehearsal of Richard Strauss’s opera
Salome. The following year Watts was engaged as the orchestra pianist and ten years
later as the associate conductor. He also coached choirs and vocal soloists.22 With these
choral directors and choral tradition at his disposal in Salt Lake City, Abravanel
performed and recorded choral works throughout his directorship.
The Utah Symphony
Whereas church choirs were the center of many Salt Lake City residents’ lives,
instrumental ensembles were functional and affiliated with other organizations. In the
1850s and 1860s, several military bands were reorganized after the pioneers settled in
Salt Lake City to play for religious gatherings, provide entertainment, and escort
newcomers or visitors into the valley.23 The bands played sacred and secular music;
hymns were set to popular tunes, including glees, ballads, and negro melodies for
religious services, and many of the original compositions were about church leaders,
religion, and morale.24 These bands formed the core ensembles for concerts, religious
ceremonies, parades, social functions, and dramatic performances.25 The symphonic
tradition, on the other hand, developed around house orchestras for theaters. In 1851, the
22
Durham, Abravanel!, 153–161; phone interview with author, 18 January 2016.
23
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 56–57, 61–63; Martha Tingey Cook, “Pioneer Bands and Orchestras of
Salt Lake City” (Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1960), 5–9, 17–18, 31.
24
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 65–68.
25
Cook, “Pioneer Bands and Orchestras of Salt Lake City,” 31–32, 77.
19
Deseret Dramatic Association was formed to provide entertainment in the Social Hall.26
Its orchestra became the church’s official band and, besides performing in the Social Hall,
played for meetings in and outside the church.27 In 1861, Salt Lake Theatre was founded
with Brigham Young’s support and soon had its own orchestra in 1862.28 The repertoire
tended to be light and included works by local conductors and composers such as Charles
John Thomas and George Careless. An 1862 program exemplified the music often
provided and included patriotic pieces like Star-Spangled Banner, dances like the polka
and the waltz, and popular songs.29 The theatre provided entertainment such as Gilbert
and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore and The Sorcerer, performed in the late 1870s.30 The
Theatre Orchestra continued to supply the valley with musical entertainment until the
theatre closed in 1928.31
The first stand-alone orchestra, Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra, met on March 5,
1888 for the first time and debuted on May 17, 1892, performing Schubert’s Unfinished
Symphony and Andante and Allegro from Beethoven’s First Symphony as well as shorter
pieces featuring different solo instruments.32 This orchestra was the first of many
26
Ibid., 25–27.
27
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 63.
28
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 63–64, 69–70, 92; Deane Wakley Brown, “Growth and Development of
Utah Professional Symphonic Orchestras prior to 1940” (Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University,
1959), 3.
29
Hicks, Mormonism and Music, 97–98.
30
Ibid., 100.
31
Cook, “Pioneer Bands and Orchestras of Salt Lake City,” 52.
32
The shorter pieces included Keler-Bela’s Franzoesiches Lustspiel; Savar’s Saxophone Solo, theme from
“Der Freischuetz”; Rockel’s Baritone Solo, “The Storm Fiend”; Mililotti’s Duet, “The Night”; Leonard’s
Violin Solo, “Souvenir de Haydn”; Bucalossi’s Tenor Solo, “The Heart Sighs Ever to be Free”; Pohle’s
Clarinette Solo, “Concert Scene”; Gounod’s “Estrano poeter il viso” from “Faust”; and Moses’s
20
orchestras that provided the main secular musical entertainment for Salt Lake City.
Between 1892 and 1935, several orchestras existed. Financial difficulties would force the
orchestra for the time to fold, but soon enough another attempt would revive the
orchestra.33 These orchestras shared musicians, staff, and music libraries.34 Directors
included Anton Pedersen in 1892; Arthur Shepherd in 1902–1908; J. J. McClellan in
1908–1911; Anton Pedersen again in 1913; Arthur Freber in 1913–1917; Charles
Shepherd in 1920, 1922–1923, and 1924–1925; and Albert Shepherd in 1927. The
orchestras’ names changed several times: Salt Lake Symphony between 1892 and 1911,
Salt Lake Philharmonic between 1913 and 1923, Salt Lake Symphony between 1924 and
1925, and Salt Lake Orchestral Society in 1927. These orchestras operated for a total
duration of 22 years between 1892 and 1935 and gave 44 concerts.35
As the Great Depression swept across the United States in the 1930s, Utah was
also in the midst of financial hardships. The Works Progress Administration (WPA), part
of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, provided substantial assistance by hiring musicians.
The WPA orchestra, also called the Utah State Sinfonietta, was formed in December
1935 under Reginald Beales’s direction. Its first concert took place in January 1936. The
WPA period opened a new era of music for Salt Lake City; the orchestra gave 139
concerts between January 1936 and February 1937 and started giving school concerts.36
Selections from “Nanon.” Brown, “Growth and Development of Utah Professional Symphonic Orchestras
prior to 1940,” 11, 59–60.
33
See Brown’s thesis for a more detailed history of the professional orchestras in Salt Lake City before
1940.
34
Brown’s thesis examines the instruments, personnel, and orchestra library holdings to show that they
were indeed the same organization despite the constant interruptions.
35
Brown, “Growth and Development of Utah Professional Symphonic Orchestras prior to 1940,” 22–23.
36
Ibid., 22–23, 52.
21
The repertoire performed by it across these thirteen months, featuring shorter works and
excerpts from larger works, was “of a lighter nature” than the music played by the
previous orchestras, and the expanded work schedule of the WPA orchestra offered a
readily available concert life for Salt Lake residents.37
When the WPA funding greatly decreased in 1940, the orchestra again faced
financial challenges.38 It remained in operation with financial assistance from the Utah
State Institute of Fine Arts, the Federal Music Project, and its own fund-raising
campaign.39 Between 1940 and 1945, Hans Heniot led the orchestra, now named the Utah
State Symphony Orchestra. The number of concerts in each season was reduced to fewer
than ten. Heniot’s first concert on May 8, 1940 marked the beginning of the modern-day
Utah Symphony. The concert featured Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Handel’s Water
Music, Smetana’s The Moldau, Strauss’s Emperor Waltz, and Sibelius’s Finlandia.40 This
program exemplified a trend starting in the late 1910s and early 1920s in which one or
two large works was featured alongside several shorter pieces or excerpts, all of which
came from the standard repertoire in the Western tradition. The successful first concert
led to a five-concert season in 1940–1941.41 Through World War II, the orchestra
continued to perform. Despite being drafted as a technical sergeant and band conductor,
Heniot remained as the music director until 1945. Although each season and summer
37
Ibid., 72.
38
The WPA funding ended on January 1, 1943. Conrad B Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts: A
Commemorative History of the Utah Symphony (Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Symphony Society, 1986), 112.
39
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 91, 101–102, 108, 113.
40
Brown, “Growth and Development of Utah Professional Symphonic Orchestras prior to 1940,” 72;
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 96.
41
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 99–102.
22
series contained only a few concerts, soloists and guest conductors were engaged to
attract the audience. After the war, James Sample conducted a six-concert season in
1945–1946.42
In the 1946–1947 season, the orchestra made great strides towards becoming a
professional orchestra, including hiring a full-time music director, proposing a twenty-six
week season, and changing the name from Utah State Symphony Orchestra to Utah
Symphony.43 Furthermore, an agreement was reached for the orchestra to use the
Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square for dress rehearsals and performances.44
Nonetheless, the conductor Werner Janssen did not see the post as a permanent one; he
stayed at hotels when in Salt Lake and insisted on importing out-of-state musicians. In
1946, Janssen broke his three-year contract and left for a job in Portland. The orchestra
started searching for a more committed conductor who would build the orchestra.
Maurice Abravanel
Before assuming directorship of the Utah Symphony, Abravanel was
predominantly an opera conductor. He did not study music in any school setting,
although he took piano lessons at the age of nine and later studied with Kurt Weill in
Berlin in 1922. He conducted at various opera houses before 1934, including those in
Berlin (1922–1923), Neustrelitz (1923–1925), Zwickau (1925–1927), and Altenburg
(1927–1929), Cassel (1929–1933), and Berlin State Opera. It was in Berlin where
42
For more details about the years 1940-1946, see “A State Orchestra” in Harrison, Five Thousand
Concerts, 91–121.
43
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 134.
44
Ibid., 123–124.
23
Abravanel’s personal interest in Mahler started; he heard the Eighth Symphony and was
“deeply impressed.”45 Subsequently, he attended rehearsals of Mahler performances by
Bruno Walter. Abravanel became deeply interested in Mahler and went without lunch for
three months in order to raise the money to buy Mahler scores.46
The exciting career development in Germany was however interrupted as Hitler
came to power, which drove him from Germany to Paris in 1933.47 In Paris he worked
with Bruno Walter at the Paris Opera and guest-conducted the Paris Symphony
Orchestra.48 Abravanel’s ways of interpreting Mahler was indeed influenced by Walter.
In his Mahler scores, Abravanel notated the timings of Walter’s recordings. For the 1953
performance of Das Lied von der Erde, he conferred with Alma Mahler and Bruno
Walter in Los Angeles.49 In 1963, Abravanel used Walter’s score when he conducted
Mahler’s Eighth.50
45
It is unclear who conducted the performance. In another source, Abravanel indicated that he attended the
Eighth Symphony’s Berlin premiere when he was nineteenth years old, which would have been 1922.
(Maurice Abravanel, speech transcript, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award,”
Maurice Abravanel papers, Ms 517, Box 3, Special Collections and Archives, University of Utah, J.
Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.) However, the Eighth was premiered in Berlin on May 17,
1912 by Willem Mengelberg. The Eighth was performed four times in the season 1923–1924 by Heinz
Unger and Paul Pella. It was possible that Abravanel misremembered the exact date. Sybille Werner, “The
Performance History of Mahler’s Orchestral Works between his Death in 1911 and the Anniversary Years
of 1960/61,” in After Mahler’s Death, edited by Gerold W Gruber, Morten Solvik Olsen, and Jan Vičar,
117–131 (Olomouc, Czech Republic: Univerzita Palackého, 2013), 121.
46
Abravanel, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award.”
47
Durham, Abravanel!, 11.
48
Durham, Abravanel!, 10–13.
49
Lowell Durham, “Music: Mahler’s ‘Song of Earth’ Will Feature Tangeman and Manton as Soloists,” The
Salt Lake Tribune, n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 80.
50
Jim Fitzpatrick, “‘Firsts’ Spark the Selections: Massive and Powerful Is Orchestra Season,” The Salt
Lake Tribune, 15 September 1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
24
Abravanel then spent two years from 1934 to 1936 in Australia, where he
conducted the Melbourne Apollo Theater and started the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
in summer 1935, the first Australian orchestra.51 Building the Melbourne Symphony
Orchestra would provide valuable experience for his work in Utah. He came to the
United States to conduct the Metropolitan Opera in 1936, but political infighting
prompted Abravanel to resign after two seasons. One night in 1938, Weill invited him to
a meeting about the production of Knickerbocker Holiday, a meeting that Maxwell
Anderson, Robert Sherwood, Sidney Howard, and Elmer Rice also attended. Abravanel
felt energized by the creativity and novelty, a stark contrast to what he had experienced at
the Met.52 As he himself described it, “I couldn’t help . . . put in my two pennies’
worth . . . in a constructive way. And [I] was exhilarated, you know, that after five years,
I, for the first time [really took] part in something creative.”53 In the same evening,
Abravanel expressed his interest in Broadway and, in particular, conducting
Knickerbocker Holiday.54 In response, Weill said “You are crazy. You can’t leave the
Metropolitan Opera.”55 Nonetheless, Abravanel left the Met and turned to Broadway.
Between 1938 and 1947 he served as the music director for many of Weill’s works,
51
Durham, Abravanel!, 17–18.
52
Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel, Oral History of American Music, Yale
University, Interviewer: Deborah Bookspan Margol, 219 a–z, pp. 195–197, 270–272.
53
Margol, Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel, p. 271.
54
Durham, Abravanel!, 23.
55
Margol, Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel, p. 197.
25
including Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus, and The Firebird of Florence. He also
guest-conducted in the United States, Mexico, and Australia.56
In 1947 Abravanel read about Werner Janssen’s resignation from the Utah
Symphony in the New York Times and saw an opportunity to build another orchestra.
Abravanel and a second candidate, Jaques Rachmilovich, were interviewed by several
important board committee members in New York in early May, 1947.57 Bruno Walter
wrote a recommendation letter to the board for Abravanel on May 14, 1947.58 The
Symphony Board met and decided to offer Abravanel a one-year contract on June 16,
1947.59 Abravanel accepted the offer and moved to Utah in mid-October.60
When Abravanel arrived, Salt Lake City boasted a variety of symphonic, choral,
and theatrical institutions organized in the previous century. His previous conducting
experiences and his interest in building an orchestra were mentioned in newspapers to
assure the local audience that this new conductor was well-qualified and had “no other
thought than to become a part of the community.”61 He did not disappoint the
community’s expectations. Early concert reviews hailed the accomplishments of the new
conductor. After the first season, the local press was relieved to know that Abravanel
56
Scott Cantrell, “America’s Musical Conscience Speaks Out,” Symphony Magazine (December 1982), 24,
The Utah Symphony Archive.
57
Durham, Abravanel!, 34.
58
Bruno Walter to Fred E. Smith, 14 May 1947, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 12.
59
Durham, Abravanel!, 34.
60
Ibid., 36.
61
Grace Grether, “Abravanel Likes Conducting, Building New Orchestras,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 2
September 1947; Conrad B. Harrison, “Abravanel to ‘Stick’: New Conductor of Utah Symphony Will
Devote His Time to Developing Ensemble,” Deseret News, 21 June 1947; both from Abravanel papers, Ms
517, Box 72.
26
would stay longer, and it was obvious that Abravanel’s presence was much appreciated.62
He swiftly became an important figure in the local musical community.
Financial hardship for the Utah Symphony, however, continued. The orchestra’s
finances worsened in Abravanel’s second season, 1948–1949, nearly forcing the
orchestra to fold. Although Abravanel had other offers, including those from the Radio
City Music Hall and the Houston Symphony in 1947 and later from Seattle and
Vancouver, he stayed with the Utah Symphony. He declined the Radio City Music Hall’s
offer that would triple his salary, because he preferred performing Beethoven and Mozart
to Broadway musicals.63 The Houston Symphony, offering to double Abravanel’s salary,
could not entice him, because he received “a very stupid review” in a Houston
newspaper.64 Abravanel preferred the supportive critics in Utah like Lowell Durham and
Conrad Harrison. When Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver wanted Abravanel, he used the
offers to negotiate with the board not for his own salary but for the orchestra members’
pay.65
The board intended to dissolve the symphony at the end of the 1948–1949 season,
but Abravanel persuaded the board either to file for bankruptcy or to honor the contracts
with musicians.66 Abravanel conducted without salary for six weeks and asked the
musicians to join him. Doing so risked angering the union, but Abravanel believed that, if
62
Lowell M. Durham, “Music Triumphs: Critic Calls 1947 the Greatest Season of Music in All the History
of Salt Lake,” Deseret News, 28 December 1947, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 72.
63
Maurice Abravanel, interview by Jay M. Haymond, 24 September 1981, 11–15, Utah State Historical
Society Oral History Program, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 4.
64
Ibid., 15–16.
65
Ibid., 35–37.
66
Ibid., 32–33.
27
the orchestra could not earn enough from ticket sales and fund-raising when it was
playing, it would be impossible to make money when it stopped. To help Utah have its
own orchestra, the musicians’ union allowed the musicians to play without pay. With
Abravanel’s determination to build an orchestra and the cooperation of the orchestra
members and the union, the Utah Symphony survived the crisis. Fighting alongside the
orchestra members for the orchestra’s survival, Abravanel established a firm foundation
from which he would lead the orchestra to explore new initiatives, including making
recordings, bringing underrepresented composers or, in Durham’s words, “unknown
composers” such as Mahler to Utah,67 and introducing the Utah Symphony to audiences
all over the world through recordings and tours.
In fact, Abravanel stayed for 32 seasons, took the orchestra on four international
and countless regional tours, made more than 100 recordings, and transformed it into a
professional orchestra. He fought for the orchestra’s survival, its concert hall, recording
opportunities, and funding. In the process of building an orchestra, Abravanel explored
new repertoire and realized his ambition of conducting Mahler’s works. Utah Symphony,
in return, became a defining chapter in Abravanel’s career. Interested in educating the
public, he introduced contemporary music as well as standard repertoire to local, national,
and international audiences. Abravanel was fervently committed to America’s concert
music culture; he brought music to school children and directed the Music Academy of
the West in Santa Barbara. After he retired from the symphony in 1979, he never
conducted again but turned to public services at the National Council of Arts and the
National Endowment for the Arts. He received a National Medal of Arts in 1988.
67
Lowell M. Durham, “Change of Tune: Chance for Unknown Composers,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 4
January 1948, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 72.
28
Figure 2.1: Abravanel and the Utah Symphony in 1964 (Courtesy of the Deseret News)
29
Figure 2.2: Abravanel conducting at the Mormon Tabernacle (Courtesy of the Utah
Symphony)
Expanding Seasons and Programming Newer Works
Abravanel continued and expanded many traditions—subscription concerts,
school concerts, and tours. He greatly increased the number of school concerts, took the
orchestra on tour to different continents in the next three decades, and extended the
season from ten concerts in twenty weeks to more than 200 concerts in fifty-two weeks
by the 1976–1977 season.68 Indeed, the expansion of the season may have reflected the
booming economy and growing population in Utah, which went from 0.636 million in
68
“Utah Symphony Fact Sheet 1977,” June 1977, the Utah Symphony Archive.
30
1947 to 1.275 million in 1976.69 The quality of the orchestra improved. Martin Mayer,
music critic from 1952 to 1975 for Esquire, recognized in a 1960 article the Utah
Symphony’s achievement: “Out of this spirit and affection, the Utah Symphony has made
itself a major orchestra, far superior to the orchestras of cities four and five times the size
and wealth of Salt Lake.”70 Thirteen years later, Mayer called the Utah Symphony “one
of the ten best, though based in a city that does not rank among the top fifty metropolitan
areas.”71
Figure 2.3: Abravanel conducting an education concert (Courtesy of the Utah Symphony)
69
“Population Estimates,” United States Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/popest/, accessed 4 June
2015.
70
Martin Mayer, “How Good Is Utah Symphony?” The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 January 1960, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
71
Martin Mayer, “Recordings,” Esquire, June 1973, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
31
Figure 2.4: Abravanel with school children (Courtesy of the Utah Symphony)
In addition to following and expanding the tradition, Abravanel took the Utah
Symphony in new directions. From the beginning Abravanel was determined to program
contemporary music. In Abravanel’s definition, “anything that the person who calls it
contemporary feels is unfamiliar, is novel, is new.” Contemporary works could be written
in a new idiom, like modern works, or could be older works that had not been accepted
into the repertoire.72 He programmed three twentieth-century works in his second concert:
Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, and William
72
Lowell Durham, “V. ‘Is Contemporary a Four-letter Word?’” in Conversations with Abravanel, 2–5,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 4.
32
Schumann’s Sideshow for Orchestra.73 Despite the dissatisfaction of an unnamed,
“powerful” board member (Glen Walker Wallace, the Vice President of the Orchestra in
1939–1947 and President in 1947–1952) and George Gadsby, the head of the Utah Power
& Light Company, Abravanel stood his ground.74 The conductor’s commitment to
promoting contemporary works was affirmed in an interview with Durham, when
Abravanel spoke to the future reader of the interview script: “I urge all of you, whenever
you first go to a contemporary music concert, go with an open mind, because it’s a
marvelous opportunity in a small town. . . . “Take advantage of them [performances of
contemporary music], because in many cities they don’t have that opportunity. So go; it’s
two hours maximum, many only one and one-half hours. And go with a feeling — ‘Let
me see what it’s all about.’”75 Abravanel believed that contemporary music was
important, because “the only way we can repay all those people whose music we
enjoyed — all the Beethovens and Schuberts and Mozarts and Bachs — is by lending a
willing ear to the composer in our midst.”76
Abravanel’s passion for promoting contemporary music was reiterated in his 1982
address to the students at the eight-week Tanglewood Music Festival. Among his several
remarks, the first was a plea to give contemporary composers opportunities to perform—
“It is our sacred duty as performers (and most of you are performers, except a handful) to
73
Lowell M. Durham, Conversation with Abravanel, Chapter IV, “Is Contemporary Music a Four-letter
Word?” page 6, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 4; however, Abravanel’s recall was different from the
Utah Symphony’s performance record, which indicated Barber’s Adagio for Strings was performed on
November 8, 1947 (Abravanel’s first concert in Utah) and Copland’s Suite from Appalachian Spring and
Schumann’s Slide Show performed on January 31, 1948 (sixth concert).
74
Durham, “Is Contemporary Music a Four-letter Word,” 6–7; Abravanel, interview by Jay M. Haymond,
24 September 1981, 25–26.
75
Ibid., 8.
76
Ibid.
33
give those composers, who sometimes have changed the language, and therefore are
difficult for us at first to understand, to hear, to be moved by — it is our first duty to give
them their hearing.”77 Just as Beethoven’s or Mozart’s music was not always embraced
during their lifetimes, contemporary composers faced the challenge of audience
opposition and deserved their fair chances. Abravanel asked of his orchestra musicians in
Utah the same thing—to be open-minded about new music. He said, “In my experience I
am proud of very few things; of one thing I am proud — my musicians knew that almost
anything they would be forgiven, but NOT if they got a new piece of music and said ‘I
don’t want to play that trash.’”78 With this belief, Abravanel continued programming and
recording twentieth-century, underperformed music throughout his directorship,
including works by Edgard Varèse, Darius Milhaud, George Gershwin, Arthur Honegger,
and Erik Satie.
77
Maurice Abravanel, “Remarks by Maurice Abravanel,” 1982, 1–2, Utah Symphony Archive.
78
Ibid., 2.
34
CHAPTER 3. RECORDING MARKET, VANGUARD, AND THE UTAH
SYMPHONY’S RECORDING CAREER
“The hallmark of Vanguard was to take chances.”
— Ari L. Goldman, “Seymour Solomon, 80, Record Label Founder,”
The New York Times, 19 July 2002.
Abravanel and the Utah Symphony recorded Mahler’s symphonies for Vanguard Records
in the 1960s and 1970s. The collaboration between Vanguard and the Utah Symphony
relied on the targeting of a market niche and capitalized on the market openings created
by technological advances and other social changes. This chapter opens with an
introduction of the recording industry in the mid-twentieth century. Next, select
recordings by the Utah Symphony show the orchestra’s strategic recording of
underrepresented works, which led to recording Mahler’s Eighth and Seventh
Symphonies. Lastly, this chapter uses a similar story of the Louisville Orchestra to show
that, with a creative mind and sensitivity to market opportunities, recordings can be used
as a marketing tool to reach a wider audience.
Recording Industry
In the midst of major labels, many smaller companies existed as early as in the
1910s and 1920s, as the market started expanding after World War I. In the United States,
record sales went from about $3 million in 1900 to about $106 million in 1921.1 At the
end of the 1920s the number started increasing again. The Great Depression however hit
1
The number was estimated by Tim Brooks, Review of Murrell’s The Book of Golden Discs, Antique
Phonograph Monthly, 5:2, pp. 8–13, quoted in Pekka Gronow, “The Record Industry: The Growth of a
Mass Medium,” Popular Music 3 (January 1, 1983), 59.
35
the industry, and the sales dropped to $6 million in 1933. Independent labels thus started
closing down; by 1934, when the British Decca opened an American branch, the only two
major competitors were RCA Victor and the American Record-Brunswick-Columbia
group.2 After the low point, the sales started to increase through World War II, although
the increase could have been faster without the war. The record sales spiked after the war,
jumping from $66 million in 1944, to $109 million in 1945, and to $218 million in 1946.3
The postwar period until 1980 saw continuous growth in the recording industry; the
record sales reached $3.682 billion in 1980.4 The rising sales created opportunities for
small companies. The number of active record companies grew rapidly from three in the
mid-1930s to several hundred by 1950.5
While the growing market attracted new companies, technologies created needs
for new recordings. Advances in recording technology had changed the world of
phonographs several times across the twentieth century. In 1925, electric microphones
expanded the types of music recorded; the substitution of instruments such as tuba and
bassoon with low strings was no longer necessary, and instrumental music and orchestral
works could be more easily recorded, ending the domination of vocal music in the
analogue recording era. In 1948, long-playing microgroove records were made available
by Columbia, which improved sound quality and encouraged the recordings of longer
works. The microgroove discs allowed for two directions of indentation to record two
2
Gronow and Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry, 58.
3
Gronow, “The Record Industry: The Growth of a Mass Medium,” 63; the US source is the Recording
Industry Association of America.
4
Ibid., 65–66.
5
Ibid., 71.
36
channels of sound; therefore, the stereo technology, first available in 1931, could finally
be used in recordings. In 1957, stereo discs started to be mass-produced. As how the
previous technological changes encouraged the market to rerecord music, stereo discs
started another wave of rerecording.6 All of Mahler’s symphonies, for example, had been
recorded on monaural discs and were waiting to be rerecorded onto stereo discs in the
late 1950s and early 1960s.7
Moreover, smaller record companies could more easily enter the market with
magnetic tape recorders mobilizing recording sessions. After World War II, American
troops found tape recorders in radio stations of occupied Germany; although a prototype
of the tape recorder appeared as early as 1900, the German tape recorders finally solved
the problem of tape hiss and distortion.8 With the tape recorder, any small or even oneperson recording company was able to bring the equipment to an orchestra’s concert hall
instead of flying the entire orchestra to the record company’s city and finding a studio
large enough for all the musicians. Vanguard, for instance, recorded all of Mahler’s
symphonies at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, using portable recording
equipment.
6
Although some efforts went into using multiple recordings of the same session to convert mono
recordings into stereo ones, most works did not have multiple recordings left and needed to be rerecorded
with two channels.
7
Although Abravanel did not begin recording Mahler's symphonies until fifteen years after the introduction
of the LP, some researchers have acknowledged the new format’s role in the Mahler revival. For example,
Ashby notes: “In trying to explain the Mahler phenomenon, others have looked not to technologically
assisted warfare and genocide but to technological advances in middle-class leisure electronics—to the
long-playing record as the first real means of reproducing this composer’s long musical spans, or to high
fidelity as a vehicle for this orchestral complexities.” Arved Mark Ashby, Absolute Music, Mechanical
Reproduction (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 221.
8
Gronow and Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry, 96–97.
37
The changing programming of radio from live performances to recorded programs
also encouraged more recordings. From the 1920s, any stations obtaining a Class B
license, which “allowed a station significant power and a spot in the prime frequency
range,” were prohibited from playing recorded music.9 Although using recorded materials
in some cases was allowed, such as to provide cheaper advertisements for advertisers,
live programs were much more common and valued than those using phonographs.10 In
the 1930s, such rules were loosened but the debates surrounding the practice continued.
Although in the 1920s transcribed programs were considered inherently inferior, the
commercial profit mattered in the 1930s and 1940s. Although musicians worried that
consumers would stop buying records if they could hear music for free on the radio, the
playing of music on the radio had the potential to promote and popularize music. The
debate was finally settled with Bing Crosby’s first “transcribed” show on October 16,
1946, prerecorded and edited, opening a phase of radio that accepted the use of
phonographs.11 Furthermore, with the television becoming a more common household
item in the 1950s, radio revenues started to decline and hiring musicians for live
performances was no longer economical. Recordings became essential for radio programs.
With the booming market, new technologies, and the radio’s changing
programming, the recording industry faced a new era filled with opportunities. As more
smaller companies joined the expanding market, major record companies started to
change their strategies; instead of trying to produce music of all ranges, they focused on
9
Albin Zak, I Don’t Sound Like Nobody: Remaking Music in 1950s America (University of Michigan Press,
2010), 12.
10
Ibid., 13.
11
Ibid., 15–30.
38
established artists and mainstream genres, leaving specialized, non-mainstream genres
like folk and jazz for independent record labels.12 The major labels after World War II—
Columbia, RCA Victor, Decca, Capitol, MGM, and Mercury—released 158 out of 163
records that sold more than a million copies between 1946 and 1952. Out of the six labels,
all but MGM had been major players in the market of classical music.13
To compete with major companies, smaller companies focused on nonmainstream repertoire, responded quickly to the trends, and became the channel for
reflecting and shaping culture. King Records, founded in 1943, was “active in virtually
all genres of vernacular American music,” including blues, country, black gospel, and
R&B, “recording musicians and styles overlooked by the large labels.”14 The label
inspired many other independent labels in the 1940s and 1950s and changed American
music.15 Sun Records discovered Elvis Presley in 1953, having found “the right young
white singer” to sing black music, and went on to record many other talents such as Carl
Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Charlie Rich.16 Savoy was founded in 1942
and profited from black gospel music in the 1960s under Herman Lubinsky’s direction.17
Savoy’s recording of Charlie Parker in 1948 marked an important music history moment,
12
Gronow, “The Record Industry: The Growth of a Mass Medium,” 71.
13
Gronow and Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry, 95, 99.
14
Jon Hartley Fox, with foreword by Dave Alvin, King of the Queen City: The Story of King Records,
Music in American Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), xv.
15
Ibid., xv.
16
Barbara Barnes Sims, The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records (Baton Rouge: Louisiana
State University press, 2014), xii.
17
Robert Cherry and Jennifer Griffith, “Down to Business: Herman Lubinsky and the Postwar Music
Industry,” Journal of Jazz Studies 10/1 (2014): 1–24.
39
and Parker’s subsequent recordings for Savoy have been reissued on LP.18 When smaller
American record companies did record classical music, they looked beyond the core
repertoire. For example, the Artist label released excerpts of Berg’s Wozzeck, and
Paraclete Recordings from Connecticut released Scriabin’s piano music in 1947.19
Vanguard Records
In the case of Vanguard, the combination of inventiveness and musical sensitivity
helped the company thrive. Vanguard was founded in 1950, when two musically-trained
Solomon brothers, the 26-year-old Seymour and 19-year-old Maynard, were unsatisfied
with recordings available in the market and decided to take a $10,000 loan from their
father to open their own record company. In the summer of 1950, Seymour Solomon
went to Vienna to record three albums of Bach cantatas; released at the end of the same
year, these recordings became the company’s earliest recordings.20 Seymour was a
violinist and Maynard a cellist and, later, a musicologist. Their training in music made
them adept at identifying the market’s needs, spotting artists with great potential, and
recognizing worthwhile repertoire that had not been recorded. These strategies worked
similarly in the markets of folk, classical, and jazz, thereby establishing Vanguard as one
of the leading independent record labels by the mid-1960s.
After its beginning in 1950, Vanguard made great strides in the folk music market,
mainly under Maynard Solomon’s direction. Vanguard earned its status in folk revival for
18
Gronow and Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry, 110.
19
Ibid., 112–113.
20
John Conly, “From Bach to Baez: The Vanguard Story,” Billboard, 19 Nov 1966; Jerome F. Weber,
“Vanguard,” in Oxford Music Online, www.oxfordmusiconline.com, accessed 13 May 2015.
40
releasing the recording The Weavers at Carnegie Hall in 1957. The Weavers, a folk
music group that previously sang with the Almanac Singers, was placed under the FBI’s
surveillance following the allegation in 1950 that Pete Seeger was tied to Communism.
The group disbanded in 1952, and its recording company Decca ended the contract and
later deleted their recordings. In 1955, the Weavers’ manager Harold Leventhal decided
to organize a reunion concert despite the continuing Red Scare. The sold-out concert took
place on Christmas Eve at Carnegie Hall. Leventhal made sure the concert was recorded.
The concert marked the return of the group, but many labels refused to produce the
recording, until Maynard Solomon purchased the right and released the recording.21 This
album was a success; “the concert and subsequent recording marked the revival of folk
music in the United States” and Vanguard established the reputation “for allowing a good
deal of artistic freedom.”22 It also revived the Weavers’ recording career and led to the
company’s signing Joan Baez in 1960 and many other important folk singers.
Vanguard’s move was risky but not uninformed; the Weavers had proven their
ability to sell with the popular hit “Good night, Irene” in their 1950 recording with Decca.
Although the alleged connection to communism placed the musicians on the blacklist, the
political charge possibly made the Weavers’ music more appealing to the audience who
disagreed with McCarthyism and sympathized with blacklisted musicians. In other words,
the blacklist turned the group from a mainstream market to a specialty one, exactly what
an independent label like Vanguard would target.
21
Ronald D. Cohen, Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940–1970 (Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), 102–103.
22
Jon Thurber, “Seymour Solomon, 80; One of Vanguard Label Founders,” Los Angeles Times, 23 July
2002; for more details about Vanguard’s contributions to folk revival, see Norm Cohen, “The Folk Revival
Reissued: The Vanguard Label,” The Journal of American Folklore 102/404 (1989): 195–198.
41
Vanguard’s repertoire ranged from artists suspected of having communist
affiliations or inclinations, such as the Weavers and Paul Robeson, to large choral works
like Robertson’s Book of Mormon Oratorio and Honegger’s Le Roi David. Vanguard was
not fearless in entering unprofitable fields; as a smaller record company, Vanguard had to
target specialty audiences, as did other New York-based companies promoting folk music
like Elektra and Prestige.23 Vanguard’s bold move in releasing the Weavers’ 1955 live
concert in the folk music market was the same strategy as its focus on choral works and
twentieth-century composers in the market of classical music recordings, both of which
made the company competitive in the thriving market. Vanguard’s willingness to take
chances resulted in the making of the Utah Symphony’s recordings of Mahler’s Eighth
and Seventh symphonies, the focus of the following chapter.
The Utah Symphony’s Recording Career
Besides promoting more recent music, as discussed in Chapter 2, Abravanel
explored recording with the Utah Symphony. Making records was not new to Abravanel;
before moving to Utah, he had recorded Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, Debussy’s Three
Ballades, and Ravel’s The Songs of Don Quichotte à Dulcinée for Columbia Records.24
When the Utah Symphony expressed interest in making recordings, Abravanel consulted
Columbia Records and learned that it was difficult for a smaller orchestra to enter a
market that had been dominated by major orchestras and major labels since the beginning
23
Ron Eyerman and Scott Barretta, “From the 30s to the 60s: The Folk Music Revival in the United States,”
Theory and Society 25/4 (August 1, 1996), 530.
24
Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel, Oral History of American Music, Yale
University, Interviewer: Deborah Bookspan Margol, 219 a–z, p. 447.
42
of the twentieth century. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra started recording in 1916
under Frederick Stock for RCA Victor, the Boston Symphony Orchestra started in 1917
under Karl Muck for RCA Victor, the New York Philharmonic started in 1917 under
Josef Stransky for Columbia, the Philadelphia Orchestra started in 1917 under Leopold
Stokowski for Columbia, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra started in 1917 under
Ernst Kunwald for Columbia. The next in line were the Minneapolis Symphony, the
Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra, who started making
recordings in 1924 under Henri Verbrugghen for Brunswick, in 1928 under Ossip
Gabrilowitsch for Victor, and in the 1920s under Nikolai Sokoloff for Brunswick,
respectively. The National Symphony Orchestra started making recordings in 1941 under
Hans Kindler for RCA, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra started in 1941 under
Fabien Sevitzky for Victor and Capitol, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra after
World War II under Fritz Reiner for Columbia.25
These orchestras mainly recorded with two of the major labels: RCA Victor and
Columbia. In the late 1930s, RCA recorded with Boston, and Columbia recorded with
Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis.26 Even when orchestras
changed record companies, they tended to alternate between these two companies; for
example, Philadelphia switched from RCA to Columbia in 1943 and returned to RCA in
1968.27
25
The information about these orchestras is from Robert R. Craven, edited, Symphony Orchestras of the
United States (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).
26
James North, “Leopold Stokowski and His Symphony Orchestra: Personnel Roster for the RCA Victor
Recordings,” ARSC Journal 44/1 (2013), 15.
27
Craven, Symphony Orchestras of the United States, 350.
43
Besides recording major orchestras, RCA Victor and Columbia maintained house
orchestras. Columbia created the Columbia Symphony Orchestra in 1913; the name
applied to recordings made by the West Coast Columbia Symphony Orchestra and the
East Coast Columbia Symphony Orchestra. These two entities did not have regular
rosters and called local musicians as needed. Sometimes other orchestras’ recordings
were credited as the Columbia Symphony Orchestra due to mistakes or the use of
pseudonym.28 Between the late 1930s and 1955, RCA recorded with Stokowski and
created a series of recordings under the name of “Leopold Stokowski and His Orchestra,”
whose members included musicians from the New York Philharmonic, the NBC
Symphony, and freelancers.29 The NBC Symphony, founded in 1937 by RCA’s broadcast
department, mainly performed for radio broadcasts and on the NBC network; the NBC
symphony started recording in 1938 until it disbanded in 1954. Allowing their parent
companies to conveniently make recordings, these house orchestras presented another
hurdle for smaller orchestras seeking contracts with major labels.
Moreover, it was not cost-effective for record companies to record small
American orchestras due to the national scale mandated by the American Federation of
Musicians, especially in comparison to the cheap cost of making recordings in Europe.30
Nevertheless, Abravanel started recording with the Utah Symphony in 1952 and
28
James H. North and Tom Tierney, “The Columbia Symphony Orchestra: An Exploration of the
Recording History of a Phantom Orchestra,” ARSC Journal 45/2 (2014): 156–78.
29
James North, “Leopold Stokowski and His Symphony Orchestra: Personnel Roster for the RCA Victor
Recordings,” ARSC Journal 44/1 (2013): 15–33.
30
Maurice Abravanel, “The Utah Story: No Deviltry, Just Good Sense: How Recording Put a Fine
American Orchestra on the Map, Made it a Better One, and Enriched the Repertory to Boot,” High Fidelity
24/8 (August 1974): 18, 20, Maurice Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78, Special Collections and Archives,
University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
44
continued to look for recording opportunities in the hope of bringing his musicians extra
income.31 To compete in the market, it worked with smaller record companies to find a
market niche. Utilizing its strength—choral tradition in Utah—and Abravanel’s interest
in recent works, it became known for the recordings of choral, modern, and less familiar
works.
Early Recordings
Under Abravanel’s direction, the Utah Symphony recorded around 120 albums
between 1952 and 1978, establishing close relationships with Westminster between 1957
and 1960 and Vanguard between 1960 and 1974.32 During Abravanel’s first season
(1947–1948) in Utah, he was approached by the Concert Hall Society, a New York
record company founded by Samuel and David Josefowitz, and “offered a practically
unlimited number of recording sessions if [Abravanel] would go to Europe.”33 Abravanel
however declined, because he wanted to make recordings with the Utah Symphony.
When the Josefowitz brothers later started another label, the Handel Society, they asked
Abravanel again. The maestro picked Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, partly because the
work had not been recorded.34 The recording was made with the Utah choruses in 1952
31
Martin Mayer, “On Record: Dr. Abravanel and the Utah Symphony Orchestra,” Esquire, November
1958, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
32
This number varied in different sources and it might have included reissues.
33
Abravanel, “The Utah Story: No Deviltry, Just Good Sense,” 18.
34
Maurice Abravanel, interview by Jay M. Haymond, 30 September 1981, Utah State Historical Society
Oral History Program, 46-47, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 4.
45
and received positive reviews, but it did not sell well and thus was the Utah Symphony’s
last and only recording with the Concert Hall.35
After the collaboration with the Josefowitz brothers, Abravanel recorded a live
performance of Leroy Robertson’s Book of Mormon Oratorio in 1953 for Studio Records
(5303 RC). Composition of the work had stretched over decades, and Abravanel’s
involvement aided its completion. Robertson, a professor at Brigham Young University
(1925–48) and the University of Utah (1948–62), was first encouraged by a member of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or the “Mormon Church”), Melvin J.
Ballard, in 1919 to compose a work based on the Book of Mormon.36 He had been
working on his Oratorio on and off since 1924,37 but it was not until 1938 when he
started working on it regularly.38 In 1946, the First Presidency of the Mormon Church
expressed interest in the work and proposed to premiere it at the centennial celebration in
1947. At that time Robertson was spending his 1946–1947 sabbatical year taking courses
towards his doctorate at the University of Southern California. To finish the Oratorio, he
gave up the sabbatical after one semester and moved back to Utah. However, when he
learned that Crawford Gates’s Promised Valley was chosen for the celebration, he put
aside the almost finished work.39 In June 1947, Abravanel met Robertson during his visit
to Utah and saw his largely completed score. Abravanel was impressed and encouraged
35
Abravanel, “The Utah Story: No Deviltry, Just Good Sense,” 18.
36
Marian Robertson Wilson, “Leroy Robertson and the Oratorio from the Book of Mormon: Reminiscence
of a Daughter,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/2 (1999), 6.
37
L. Brent Goates, “Leroy Robertson’s ‘Book of Mormon Oratorio’ Set Feb. 18,” Deseret News, 11
February 1953; Robertson Wilson, 7.
38
Robertson Wilson, “Leroy Robertson and the Oratorio from the Book of Mormon: Reminiscence of a
Daughter,” 7.
39
Ibid., 10–11.
46
Robertson to finish it.40 In 1953, Abravanel scheduled a performance for Robertson’s
Oratorio, prompting him to finally finish the work.41
For his Oratorio, Robertson chose “what constitutes in the eyes of many the
supreme episode of the entire book.”42 From the stories over a thousand years covered in
The Book of Mormon, Robertson selected two books—Helaman and 3 Nephi—that
spanned about a century from 52 B.C. to A.D. 35. The Book of Helaman includes
Samuel’s prophecies about Jesus’s birth and death, and the Third Book of Nephi details
the birth and death of Jesus and the signs experienced by the Nephites (one of the four
groups from Jerusalem that had settled in the ancient Americas). According to the book,
during the three days of darkness following Jesus’s crucifixion, many Nephites were
killed; afterwards, Jesus was resurrected, appeared in the ancient Americas, and taught
the Nephites how to pray. The Lesser Doxology, which is not in The Book of Mormon,
concludes the oratorio.
These events are divided into three parts of Robertson’s Oratorio: the prophecy of
Samuel, the birth of Christ, and the appearance of Christ to the Nephites. The three
characters, sung by the soloists, are Samuel, the Lamanite prophet; the Evangelist; and
Jesus Christ. The Nephites are sung by the choruses. As the soloists narrate the story and
the choruses frequently repeat words for emphasis, the orchestra sets the mood for the
drama. Tuneful melodies are often passed among instruments, choruses, and soloists.
Despite the large scale of the work, the music is transparent.
40
Ibid., 11.
41
Ibid., 12.
42
Ibid., 8.
47
Abravanel and the Utah Symphony premiered Oratorio from the Book of Mormon
on February 18, 1953, shortly after its completion. The premiere was truly a local event;
four of the five soloists were local singers, the organist was the Tabernacle organist
Alexander Schreiner, and the choruses were the University of Utah combined choruses.
In the same year, Abravanel conducted the work twice more: on March 14 in Ogden and
April 6 back in the Mormon Tabernacle. The April performance drew a large crowd
because it took place four hours after the conclusion of the Mormon Church’s Annual
General Conference. It was on April 6 when the concert was recorded live by the Allen
Duff Associates, including Allen Jensen from the KSL Radio in Salt Lake City and
Marion Duff Banks.43 The 1953 recording was the first of three recordings of the work,
all of which were conducted by Abravanel. In the following two years, Oratorio from the
Book of Mormon was performed each April 6.44 The decision to perform the work at the
Mormon Tabernacle around Easter Sunday three years in a row (1953, 1954, and 1955)
could not have been coincidental; although the Utah Symphony remained separate from
the Mormon Church and did not perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir until 1978,
the repeated performances and recordings of Robertson’s Oratorio from the Book of
Mormon showed Abravanel’s commitment to local composers and his desire to build an
amicable relationship with the church.
The aforementioned early recordings—of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus and
Robertson’s Oratorio from the Book of Mormon—demonstrated Abravanel’s pattern of
43
Ibid., 12.
This recording remained unknown to many outside Utah, as some reviews of the second recording
(1961) of the work stated that it was the first.
44
“Utah Symphony Sets Oratorio By Robertson,” Provo Herald, 4 April 1954; “‘Book of Mormon
Oratorio’ Draws Wide Ticket Demand,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 March 1955.
48
programming and recording underperformed, large-scale choral works. This pattern was
influenced not only by the long-established choral tradition in Salt Lake City but also by
the conductor’s interest in recording works outside the standard repertoire or that had not
been recorded. In the following three decades, Abravanel continued recording works in
the same pattern with independent record companies, including Westminster and
Vanguard.
Partnership with Westminster
Although the Utah Symphony started recording in 1952, its first long-term
recording contract was with Westminster in 1957. Westminster was founded in 1949 in
New York by James Grayson, Michael Naida, and Henry Gage. The company originally
aimed to make recordings cheaply in Europe and sell them in the United States.45
Together, Westminster and the Utah Symphony produced premiere recordings as well as
recordings of choral works.
At this time, the Utah Symphony started working around the American Federation
of Musicians’ mandate of paying musicians on a national scale for all recording
sessions.46 The mandate did not warrant fairness; the national scale for recordings,
45
Pekka Gronow and Ilpo Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry (London: Cassell,
1998), 114.
46
The requirement of paying the musicians according to a national scale is still in place. On page 21 of the
Sound Recording Labor Agreement on the website of the American Federation of Musicians
(www.afm.org), everyone in the orchestras is to be paid with a minimum rate: “All members of the
symphony orchestra, whether called to the engagement or not, shall be paid for at least the first two (2)
hours of the basic session call ($244.49 effective February 1, 2006, $255.62 effective February 1, 2007,
$263.28 effective February 1, 2008, $268.55 effective February 1, 2009, $273.92 effective February 1,
2012, $278.03 effective February 1, 2013 and $280.81 effective January 13,2014) and shall not be called or
required to attend if they are not scheduled to perform.” Rates for different kinds of sessions are also
specified on page 22. The document does not state that each state can determine its own pay scale. “Sound
49
disregarding the differences in living standards in different cities, could be much higher
than the rate for concerts and rehearsals in smaller cities and above what recording
companies were willing to pay. In the case of the Utah Symphony, “the national
recording scale was about three times as much as the minimum paid to one of its
musicians for the same amount of time worked under the local master agreement.”47 The
national scale in theory ensured that all musicians in the United States would be paid
equally, but in practice motivated record companies to record major orchestras to
guarantee a return of their investment, since orchestras with fame of the level of the New
York Philharmonic or the Philadelphia Orchestra, for instance, were likely to sell more
records. By attempting to maintain a fair wage across the country, the American
Federation of Musicians inadvertently prevented most regional orchestras from making
recordings, which in turn limited musicians’ income and orchestras’ ability to promote
their work.48
The Utah Symphony and Westminster devised a way to work around the national
scale and sustain the orchestra’s recording career. According to Westminster’s recording
contract for the Utah Symphony in 1957, the symphony society would pay the musicians
while the record company would pay for “everything else and [give] the orchestra a
Recording Labor Agreement: February 1, 2006–January 12, 2015,” American Federation of Musicians of
the United States and Canada, www.afm.org, accessed 13 February 2016.
47
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 221.
48
As The New York Times critic Harvey Phillips argued in a 1975 article about American orchestras
making recordings, the American Federation of Musicians’ national scale would actually “limit
opportunities for its not-so-fortunate brethren” and “a recording company can often afford to take a chance
with a less than international-stature ensemble” in Europe because the lack of such a rigid national scale.
See more details in Harvey E. Phillips, “American Orchestras Are Back in the Recording Studios,” The
New York Times, 28 September 1975.
50
higher royalty.”49 Under this plan, the musicians would be paid “the equivalent of one
service plus twenty percent” and the higher royalty from the recording company would
be used to pay the musicians “the difference owed to them up to the national scale.”50
The plan was then reported to the local union and brought to the American Federation of
Musicians. Its president, Herman D. Kenin, required one petition in writing from each
orchestra member to the local orchestra management.51 The petitions were quickly
obtained, and the Utah Symphony continued recording for Westminster in December
1957.52 Although a few other orchestras, such as the Seattle Symphony, also tried to work
around the national scale, most of them acquired additional funding to supplement the
compensation to meet the national scale requirement.53 In 1969 the Utah Symphony’s
waiver was extended, when the musicians entrusted Abravanel to negotiate with the
union.54 In 1972, the waiver was abolished, but it had served its purpose;55 as Abravanel
explained in an interview with High Fidelity, “[by] this time we were well enough
established so that we were able to continue our program at full speed.”56
With Westminster, Abravanel and the Utah Symphony produced many rare
recordings. They first recorded Handel’s Israel in Egypt; Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F,
49
Abravanel, “The Utah Story: No Deviltry, Just Good Sense,” 18. As Abravanel explained in the same
article, this agreement was used by Westminster and Mercury with major orchestras.
50
Abravanel, “The Utah Story: No Deviltry, Just Good Sense,” 19.
51
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 221–222.
52
Ibid., 222.
53
Philip Hart, Orpheus in the New World: the Symphony Orchestra as an American Cultural Institution
(New York: W. W. Norton, 1973), 184–185.
54
Ibid., 185.
55
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 225.
56
Abravanel, “The Utah Story: No Deviltry, Just Good Sense,” 20.
51
An American in Paris, and Rhapsody in Blue; and Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony.57 The
next recording projects included Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus; Copland’s Billy the Kid
and El Salón Mexico; Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite; Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Suite,
Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suites Nos. 1 and 2 and Piano Concerto in A minor; César Franck’s
Symphony in D Minor; Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Abravanel recorded two of Handel’s works in 1958, both of which were released
in 1959 for the two hundredth anniversary of the composer’s death. The record reviews
applauded Abravanel’s abilities to lead multiple groups of musicians. The recording of
Israel in Egypt was “remarkably good,” with the conductor’s good handling of the
performing forces, including the orchestra, choruses, and soloists.58 In the recording of
Judas Maccabaeus, the “well-disciplined and assured” choruses performed well, and
Abravanel “achieves as much variety as Handel permits him to.”59 Judas Maccabaeus
was rerecorded so quickly after the 1952 version on the Handel Society label, probably
because the previous version was monaural. The stereo sound in both recordings was
spacious and particularly suitable for works with large performing forces.60 Indeed, stereo
sound was frequently singled out for its merits for large, choral works, as seen in the
reviews of many of Abravanel’s Mahler recordings.
Westminster’s strategy to make recordings cheaply with European orchestras
stopped working by the 1960s, when the living standards in Europe greatly improved and
57
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 222.
58
Nathan Broder, “Handel: Israel in Egypt,” High Fidelity 8/7 (July 1958): 48.
59
Nathan Broder, “Handel: Judas Maccabaeus,” High Fidelity 9/8 (August 1959): 54.
60
R. G., Review of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, Records and Recording, November 1960, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
52
eventually increased the cost of recordings.61 The Utah Symphony’s partnership with
Westminster therefore ended in 1960. Westminster was sold to ABC-Paramount Records
in the early 1960s, and the Westminster catalog was again sold to MCA Records in 1979.
Westminster’s recordings continued to be reissued after its closure. Although the Utah
Symphony could not make enough of a profit to cover their expenses before Westminster
folded, the reissues did bring continuous income for the orchestra until 1978.62
Partnership with Vanguard
When the Utah Symphony’s window to Westminster was closing, a door to
Vanguard opened. Seymour Solomon, one of the co-founders of Vanguard Records,
wrote to Abravanel to inquire about his interest in working with the company: “It has
come to our attention that in view of the situation which has developed with the recording
company with which you have been connected, you may be interested in considering
making recordings for Vanguard Records.”63 Abravanel responded with interest and
started communicating with Vanguard; in another letter two weeks later they started
discussing possible repertoire for recording, including “Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ Oratorio,”
“the Milhaud works,” and “the LeRoy Anderson pieces.”64 In February, the decision of
switching to Vanguard was discussed in a board meeting, and Abravanel was given the
61
Gronow and Saunio, 114.
62
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 223.
63
Seymour Solomon to Maurice Abravanel, 14 January 1960, letter, Abravanel Papers. Ms 517, Box 13.
64
Seymour Solomon to Maurice Abravanel, 29 January 1960, letter, Abravanel Papers. Ms 517, Box 13.
53
green light to negotiate with Vanguard.65 Vanguard drafted a similar pay agreement to
that between the Utah Symphony and Westminster: the orchestra would pay the
musicians for recording, and the record company would pay other costs and gave the
orchestra a higher percentage of royalty. In particular, Solomon offered a 16% royalty “of
the wholesale price on each record sold, provided your Board furnishes the entire payroll
for musicians, conductor, recording hall and orchestrations, as well as the soloists
involved” and guaranteed 1,000 sales per recording.66 Thereafter, Vanguard and
Abravanel worked closely in the 1960s and finished a few more projects in the 1970s.
With Vanguard, Abravanel produced many premiere recordings, against the trend
of duplicating recordings. In the classical music recording market, major labels had
focused on the standard repertoire. For instance, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony was
recorded by many conductors, and Toscanini recorded the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s
A Midsummer Night’s Dream five times.67 By 1954, “21 different versions of
Beethoven’s Eroica had appeared on the LP market, both new recordings and pressings
transferred from 78 rpm discs. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet was available in just as
many versions. There were ten recordings of Mozart’s D minor piano concerto [Concerto
for Piano and Orchestra in D minor (K. 466)], and five interpretations of the St Matthew
Passion.”68 Similarly, when LP became available in 1948, major labels first rerecorded
65
Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee of the Utah Symphony Board, 1 February 1960,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 24.
66
Solomon to Abravanel, 29 January 1960.
67
Lance W. Brunner, “The Orchestra and Recorded Sound,” in Collected Work: The Orchestra: Origins
and Transformations (New York, NY: Scribner’s Sons, 1986), 502.
68
Gronow and Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry, 113.
54
works from the standard repertoire.69 Heading a smaller company that required finding a
market niche to remain competitive, Seymour Solomon agreed with Abravanel that
making duplicate recordings was unfruitful. In a 1988 interview, Abravanel fondly
remembered the collaboration with Vanguard and explained his intentional choice of
recording under-recorded works:
But much later, then, when I started doing recordings, and with a very bright firm:
Vanguard— You know, Seymour Solomon agreed with me that it was foolish to
duplicate recordings that were already in the catalog a million times unless they
could prove, or they had a chance, of being best sellers—in other words, bringing
a new point of view. But mostly we did recordings of works that had never been
recorded. So I remembered Varèse, and I knew that only his small-scale works
had been recorded. Neither Arcana, nor Amériques.70
The trend of duplicating recordings of core repertoire was of course profit-driven, but,
when the market became saturated, Abravanel and Solomon’s focus on less-recorded
works enticed people to buy the Utah Symphony’s recordings.
Equally impressive to Vanguard’s adventurous selections of repertoire was their
long list of first stereo recordings. Although stereo sound technology had been available
since the early 1930s, stereo LPs were not mass produced until 1957. The 1960s was
therefore a time in which rerecording works with stereo sound became popular, and
Vanguard surely took advantage of technological advances. Sound quality was one of the
common reasons that critics recommended Vanguard’s recordings. Later Vanguard again
followed the newest trend and introduced four-channel recordings to the market, although
four-channel sound turned out to be a short-lived fad.
69
Brunner, “The Orchestra and Recorded Sound,” 505.
70
Olivia Mattis, “Conversation with Maurice Abravanel,” 1988, page 2, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box
119.
55
The partnership between Vanguard and the Utah Symphony focused on
recordings of choral and underrepresented works. In 1961, Abravanel rerecorded
Robertson’s Oratorio from the Book of Mormon (VRS 1077), eight years after the work’s
premiere recording. This new recording was released nationwide and received numerous
reviews from major cities including Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and
Seattle as well as journals like Audio Magazine and The American Organist. Reviewer
George Stowe from the Hartford Courant declared the recording a “powerful and
eloquent testimony to Robertson’s talents.”71 Since outside critics were unfamiliar with
the work, they compared it to other choral masterpieces. The combination of “a certain
sturdy modernity” and “a good deal of rather solid musical construction,” for instance,
drove Audio Magazine critic to compare Robertson’s Oratorio to other works about the
Messiah and Bach’s B Minor Mass.72 Robertson’s careful selection of the events in The
Book of Mormon achieved the desired effect, as the birth, death, and crucifixion of Jesus
is central to all denominations of Christianity. As some critics described the recording:
“[t]his is a record everyone can enjoy, not only those of the Mormon faith.”73 The
recording showcased Utah talents—four soloists: Roy Samuelsen, Kenly W. Whitelock,
Jean Preston, and Warren Wood (among whom Whitelock and Wood were Utahns); three
Utah choruses: University of Utah Chorus, University of Utah Chorale, and the South
High Girls’ Chorus; and the Mormon Tabernacle organist Alexander Schreiner. Most of
the record reviews focused on describing Robertson’s work, but a few comments about
71
George W. Stowe, Hartford Courant, 26 November 1962, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
72
Edward Tatnall Canby, “Leroy Robertson: Oratorio from the Book of Mormon,” Audio Magazine 46/3
(March 1962): 46, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
73
Herman Schaden, Washington Star, 10 December 1961, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
56
these musicians’ “sensitive” and “fervent” performance pointed to a satisfying
recording.74 Overall, the recording put Robertson on an equal footing with composers in
the Western canon, emphasized the universal aspects of the Mormon faith, and
showcased Utah musicians in a choral-orchestral work.
Under Abravanel’s baton, the Utah Symphony recorded Honegger’s Le Roi David
in 1961. Le Roi David (1923), based on a biblical drama with the same title by René
Morax (1921), was originally incidental music and revised into a symphonic psalm.
Although the recording was not the work’s premiere recording, it was the only one listed
in the Schwann catalog. Calling for soloists (narrator, soprano, mezzo-soprano, and
tenor), chorus, and orchestra, this large-scale work was “no easy task” and Abravanel’s
recording brought “the best sound we have heard from the Utah forces.”75 Both Netania
Davrath and Martial Singher, the soprano and the narrator, were praised. The success of
this recording, as Abravanel explained, led to the recording of Mahler’s Eighth
Symphony: “After the very great success of the University of Utah and the Utah
Symphony choral recordings, especially of King David, I mentioned jokingly to the
Vanguard people about doing Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. Vanguard told me after the
success of King David, we could do anything and they would be with us.”76
Among the Utah Symphony’s other premiere Vanguard recordings was also
Alessandro Scarlatti’s Messa di Santa Cecilia. It was recorded shortly after the recent
74
Music Ministry, April 1962, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25; Canby, “Leroy Robertson: Oratorio
from the Book of Mormon.”
75
Enos E. Shupp, Jr., “The New Records,” H. Royer Smith Company, January 1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms.
517, Box 25.
76
Maurice Abravanel, speech transcript, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award,”
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 3.
57
rediscovery of the work and showed Abravanel’s interest in promoting underrepresented
works. Messa di Santa Cecilia was composed in 1720, five years before Scarlatti’s death,
but then forgotten. It was rediscovered in the twentieth century, edited by Fritz Steffin,
and published by Bote & Bock in Berlin and Wiesbaden in 1957.77 Abravanel and the
Utah Symphony gave the work its American premiere in 1961 and recorded it in 1962.78
As a first recording with the “spacious, realistic, and clear” stereo sound and a chorus and
an orchestra that performed with “forcefulness and effectiveness,” Abravanel’s recording,
considered “important and highly praiseworthy,” was the combination of “musical
satisfaction” and “historical fascination.”79
While Abravanel’s recording of Messa di Santa Cecilia was well received, his
recording of Gottschalk’s A Night in the Tropics, which also involved a new edition,
drew harsh criticism. From the time of its composition in 1859, the orchestral score had
been missing 36 measures. Although a piano score was available, the orchestral version
had been long neglected with no recording available. When Abravanel made the
recording in 1964, only one orchestral reconstruction by Howard Shanet, who conducted
his edition in 1955, was available. Upon Vanguard’s inquiry about possible American
works for recordings, Shanet suggested Gottschalk’s work; however, when Vanguard
decided to go with Abravanel, Shanet prohibited the group from using his edition. To
77
Malcolm Boyd, “Alessandro Scarlatti,” in Oxford Music Online, www.oxfordmusiconline.com, accessed
4 June 2015; Carole Franklin Vidali, Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: A Guide to Research (Taylor &
Francis, 1993), 58.
78
The work calls for five soloists (SSATB) and ripienists (2 violins, 1 viola, and basso continuo). In
Abravanel’s recording, Jean Preston (soprano), Blanche Christensen (soprano), Baryl Jensen Smiley (alto),
Ronald Christensen (tenor), Warren Wood (bass), and the University of Utah Alumni Chorus joined forces
with the Utah Symphony.
79
John W. Barker, The American Record Guide 28/7 (March 1962), Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
58
provide a version for the Utah Symphony, Gaylord Hatton, under Abravanel’s
supervision, used several different sources to create a complete orchestral score. Shanet’s
disagreement with Hatton’s edition was reflected in his harsh review.80 Nonetheless, most
of the other reviews embraced the group’s own reconstruction. As High Fidelity critic R.
D. Darrell stated, the work was “consistently well played and recorded in brightly warm
and natural stereoism.”81 In fact, this recording offered a viable option for knowing the
work before a more satisfying edition of the score was finally available in 2000.82
Abravanel would again use a newly available Critical Edition to record Mahler’s Seventh
Symphony, turning a recent scholarly endeavor into a sound recording.
After recordings Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 1963 and Seventh Symphony in
1964, Abravanel continued to search for less-recorded works, including underrepresented
works from the twentieth century such as those by Edgard Varèse. Portraying Varèse’s
perception of his new country with new and unfamiliar sounds, siren, Amériques was
modernistic and difficult for both performers and listeners. With a grant from the
Rockefeller Foundation, Abravanel recorded Varèse’s Amériques in 1966. His tendency
to “shape the piece dynamically and to go all out only for certain climaxes” made the
recording “easier to take” but “[dulled] the effect a little.” Overall, the playing was “of
remarkably high quality” and “in most respects the conception [was] fully worthy of the
80
Howard Shanet, “En Garde, Vanguard!” The Saturday Review, 14 March 1964: 118, Abravanel Papers,
Ms. 517, Box 25.
81
R. D. Darrell, “Gottschalk: A Night in the Tropics,” High Fidelity 14/2 (February 1964): 112.
82
Shanet’s reduced score was not accepted as the norm, and so were two other editions. Eugene List’s
edition in 1969 “focused on Gottschalk's melodies rather than his rich orchestrations,” and Gunther
Schuller’s in 1998 “was better but still took liberties with the original.” Finally, Richard Rosenberg’s in
2000 “has tackled all the surviving orchestral and operatic manuscripts, with great fidelity to the original
text and great success overall.” S. Frederick Starr, liner notes for Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Complete
Works for Orchestra, Hot Springs Festival Symphony Orchestra, Richard Rosenberg, Naxos 8.559320,
2000.
59
piece.”83 The same album also included Milhaud’s L’Homme et Son Désir, which
portrayed jungles of Brazil, and Honegger’s Pacific 231, which imitated a locomotive.
Abravanel’s Milhaud was “sensuous and crystalline,” and his Honegger “[brought] that
locomotive to life.”84 All three works in the album were composed between 1918 and
1921 and explored unusual sounds and textures. Containing three works that represented
“the French avant-garde of the twenties,” this album “successfully [filled] a large gap in
the recorded repertoire.”85 Moreover, the performance quality in all three difficult pieces
showcased the orchestra’s capabilities.
In 1964, Abravanel recorded Honegger’s Judith for Vanguard (VRS 1139, VSD
71139), providing another stereo recording for an underrepresented, large-scaled work.
Similar to Honegger’s Le Roi David, Judith was based on a biblical drama by René
Morax (1925), started as incidental music, and revised into a biblical opera in 1926.
Many reviews affirmed the recording’s sound quality, especially in comparison to the
mono recording in two 78 rpm discs made by Antwerp and conducted by Louis de
Vocht.86 The sound was commended for the “nice effects achieved by the separation of
the two sound-tracks, especially in some of the choral passages. The performance has a
‘live’ quality.”87 The recording was “another excellent recording from the 20th-century
83
Eric Salzman, “Varese: Amériques,” High Fidelity 16/8 (August 1966), 94.
84
Ibid.
85
Philip L. Miller, “Varèse: Amériques,” American Record Guide 33/6 (February 1967), 451, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
86
Ibid.
87
Ibid.
60
choral-orchestral repertory to [Abravanel’s] credit.”88 While the musicians—orchestra,
chorus, and soloists—received genuine praise,89 the most applauded person in this
recording was the narrator Madeleine Milhaud, the wife of composer Darius Milhaud.
Her performance was delivered with “authority and conviction” and was the “strongest
and best part of the whole recording.”90 This recording also elicited comments showing
how Abravanel stood out in the recording market. Stephanie von Buchau’s review in San
Francisco’s FM & The Arts was mixed with compliments and criticisms: “[Abravanel] is
a very peculiar conductor that no matter what he conducts: Handel, Honegger, Mahler, he
always manages to sound faintly anachronistic at the same time he is delivering the score
with verve and interest.”91 Although not entirely flattering, these descriptions portrayed
Abravanel as somewhat eccentric while able to consistently deliver recordings of
substance.
The Utah Symphony’s recordings under Abravanel, including those of twentiethcentury, choral-orchestral, under-recorded, and local composers’ works, pointed to the
intersection of the business strategy, musical interest, and local resources, which did not
go unnoticed. Emerson Batdorff from The Plain Dealer was confident in Abravanel’s
choice of winners for recordings: “When it comes to picking modern works of dignity
and perhaps even of lasting merit you can’t go far wrong putting your money on Maurice
88
Jo Reiter, “Honegger ‘Judith’ On New Vanguard,” Boston Globe, n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box
25.
89
Alfred Frankenstein, “Honegger: Judith,” High Fidelity 16/1 (January 1966): 88; Jo Reiter, “Honegger
‘Judith’ On New Vanguard,” Boston Globe, n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
90
James H. Paul, “Records in Review: Judith and Some Pops,” The Jewish Advocate, 9 June 1966,
Abravanel Papers, Ms. 517, Box 25.
91
Stephanie von Buchau, “Honegger, Judith,” FM & The Arts, April 1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box
25.
61
Abravanel.”92 He complimented Abravanel’s “sure instinct” in choosing works “that can
be listened to and enjoyed.”93 Abravanel’s recordings of the Mahler cycle were along the
same line, as the next chapter will discuss.
While the above-mentioned recordings were mostly of underrepresented
repertoire, Abravanel also recorded popular works, for example, Leroy Anderson’s short
pieces and two of Tchaikovsky’s ballets—The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. The album for
Anderson’s works, “the first extensive [collection] in several years,” included many
popular pieces such as “Sleigh Ride,” “Bugler’s Holiday,” “The Syncopated Clock,” and
“Typewriter.”94 Abravanel’s “gentler treatment” was, according to R. D. Darrell, close to
the interpretation of the composer—“genial and warmly lyrical in contrast to the far more
bravura readings offered by Fiedler and Fennell.”95 The complete version of The
Nutcracker, offered at a bargain price, could “tempt listeners previously unfamiliar with
the complete score to discover how much more there is in this ballet than in the familiar
suite or abridgments alone.”96 Musically, the recording of The Nutcracker was vibrant
with “verve and spontaneity,” and Abravanel’s “more broad and sober approach” offered
a nice alternative for the audience.97 Abravanel’s recording of excerpts from Swan Lake,
a “beautiful engineered” recording, was “slightly prosaic,” because a standalone ballet
92
Emerson Batdorff, “Abravanel Picks Another Winner,” The Plain Dealer, 7 November 1965, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
93
Ibid.
94
R. D. Darrell, “‘Fiddle Faddle and 14 Other Leroy Anderson Favorites,” High Fidelity 18/4 (April 1968):
30.
95
Ibid.
96
R. D. Darrell, “Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, Op. 71,” High Fidelity 12/4 (April 1962), 80.
97
The Denver Post, 28 November 1965; Jack Diether, “Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker,” The American
Record Guide 32/4 (December 1965), 311.
62
recording needed “more vividness and shiny brilliance.”98 The two Tchaikovsky albums
were recorded before they recorded Mahler’s Eighth, and the Anderson album was
recorded after it. Nonetheless, all three recordings presented well-known works in warm,
stereo sound, and the Anderson album and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker offered more
complete versions than most of others on the market.
Abravanel’s most unusual recording was a 1964 collaboration (VRS 9160) with
the folk singer Joan Baez in a performance of “Cantilena” from Villa-Lobos’s Fifth
Bachiana Brasileira accompanied by a cello ensemble of eight cellists from the Utah
Symphony. Joan Baez’s career as a folk singer started at a successful guest appearance at
the Newport Folk Festival in 1959, and she made six recordings with Vanguard in the
early 1960s.99 Besides the Villa-Lobos piece, the 1964 album included eleven traditional
and folk songs with Baez using guitar to accompany herself. Although Baez was not an
opera singer, her voice was powerful and her interpretation confident; in keeping with
Abravanel’s conducting style of not adding too much personal interpretation, Baez’s
tempo only changed during sectional transitions. Jack Diether applauded the recording
for its instrumentation, recorded sound, and Baez’s voice. Abravanel used one cello in
each of the eight parts, “restor[ing] the chamber-music lightness.”100 This chamber sound
was fittingly recorded by Vanguard, so “each instrument receives its due in clarity and
presence.” Baez’s voice of “bell-like purity and lightness” turned the recording into “an
98
Ray Ericson, “Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake,” High Fidelity 9/8 (August 1959): 61.
99
Mark C. Samples, “Baez, Joan,” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, www.oxfordmusiconline,
accessed 19 May 2015.
100
Jack Diether, “Villa-Lobos: Bachiana Brasileira No. 5 for Soprano and Eight Cellos—Aria (Cantilena),”
The American Record Guide 31/6 (February 1965), 503.
63
ineffable and breath-taking piece of music.”101 By offering a classical piece on a folk
album, Vanguard demonstrated its inventiveness in the recording business, coordinated
artists across genres, and pooled their resources to expand their audience. These
recordings of a wide range of works from choral and modern works to popular and folk
music elucidates the orchestra and the record company’s strategy in delivering recordings
not on the market, which led them to recording Mahler’s music.
The Utah Symphony’s fruitful collaboration with Vanguard was interrupted in
April 1969 because of the declining sales in the market of classical music recordings.102
Before 1969, it had recorded most of Mahler’s symphonies—Mahler’s Eighth in 1963,
Seventh in 1964, Second in 1967, Fourth in 1968, and Third and Ninth in 1969. In the
1970s, Abravanel continued recording for several other record companies, including Vox,
Angel, CRI, and Orion. In 1973 the president of Vox, George de Mendelssohn-Bartholdy,
proposed to record the rest of Mahler’s symphonies, but Abravanel preferred to leave the
opportunity to Vanguard. Seymour Solomon, the producer and co-owner at Vanguard,
accepted Abravanel’s proposal and flew to Salt Lake City with his engineers in May 1974
to record Mahler’s First, Fifth, and Sixth Symphonies as well as the Adagio from the
Tenth Symphony, completing the Utah Symphony’s Mahler cycle.103 Thereafter,
Vanguard recorded Brahms’s complete symphonies (1976) and Sibelius’s complete
symphonies (1977) in Utah.104 In 1978, a year before retiring, Abravanel recorded
Robertson’s Oratorio from the Book of Mormon for the third time for Columbia
101
Ibid., 503, 504.
102
Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts, 224.
103
Ibid., 225.
104
Ibid., 226.
64
Masterworks, again with many local musicians, including soloists Hervey Hicks, John
Prather, Clayne Robison, and JoAnn Ottley and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, directed
by Jerold Ottley (JoAnn Ottley’s husband). This would be Abravanel’s last recording,105
suitably closing Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s recording journey with a choral
work by a Utahn composer.
The Louisville Orchestra: A Similar Story
The Utah Symphony’s recording career was unusual but by no means unexampled;
a similar story may be found in Kentucky. Between 1948 and 1957, the Louisville
Orchestra and its music director from 1937 to 1967, Robert Whitney, commissioned 132
works, about a hundred of which were recorded.106 This project only lasted a decade but
left the Louisville Orchestra a long-lasting association with new music.107
The Louisville Orchestra was experiencing financial difficulties in the 1940s and
hit its low point after a three-day extravaganza in April 1947.108 In 1949, the orchestra, its
conductor Robert Whitney, and the orchestra president and Louisville mayor, Charles P.
Farnsley, searched for ways to overcome the large deficit. Reducing the orchestra size
and fund-raising only provided limited help, so Whitney and Farnsley decided to
105
Robertson Wilson, “Leroy Robertson and the Oratorio from the Book of Mormon: Reminiscence of a
Daughter,” 12–13.
106
Jeanne Marie Belfy, “The Commissioning Project of the Louisville Orchestra, 1948–1958: A Study of
the History and Music” (Ph.D. diss., University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, 1986); Jeanne
Marie Belfy, “Judith and the Louisville Orchestra: The Rest of the Story,” College Music Symposium 31
(January 1, 1991): 36–48; Michael Mauskapf, “The American Orchestra as Patron and Presenter, 1945–
Present: A Selective Discography,” Notes 66/2 (2009), 385–386; Philip Hart, “Louisville Orchestra,” in
Orpheus in the New World: 192–211.
107
Belfy, “Judith and the Louisville Orchestra: The Rest of the Story,” 48.
108
Ibid., 38.
65
commission new works to make “a concrete contribution to the music” and, if they
happened to record a masterpiece, perhaps make a profit and leave their names in the
history book.109 Although the commission project was largely due to Farnsley’s advocacy,
Whitney, himself a composer, was sympathetic to contemporary composers’ lack of
performance opportunities and welcomed the suggestion.110
The commissions started in the 1948–1949 season, with six subscription concerts
premiering six newly-commissioned works by Joaquin Rodrigo, Virgil Thomson, Darius
Milhaud, Claude Almand, Gian-Francesco Malipiero, and Roy Harris. In March 1949, the
orchestra approached the dancer Martha Graham, who then proposed to have Schumann
compose the music.111 The orchestra’s financial crisis persisted, so Farnsley requested a
$40,000 grant from the Louisville Foundation in the spring of 1949. Five works were
commissioned in the 1949–1950 season from Robert Russell Bennett, William Schuman,
David Diamond, Paul Hindemith, and Claude Almand.112 Schuman’s work especially
marked a turning point for the orchestra and proved the commission project beneficial.
The premiere of Schuman’s Judith, with Graham dancing with the orchestra, attracted
national attention and turned both the composer and dancer into the orchestra’s
champions. The orchestra was then invited to New York to perform Judith in the
Carnegie Hall on December 29, 1950.113
109
These were how Whitney remembered the reasons Farnsley used to convince him to commission new
works, from Robert S. Whitney (Transcript of Tapes 29–32, Series I, Record Group 60, Oral History
Collection, University of Louisville Archives and Records Center, 1970), pp. 76–83, quoted in Belfy,
“Judith and the Louisville Orchestra: The Rest of the Story,” 41.
110
Belfy, “Judith and the Louisville Orchestra: The Rest of the Story,” 39–41.
111
Ibid., 42–44.
112
Ibid., 42.
113
Ibid., 43–44.
66
In contrast with Abravanel’s strategic selection of repertoire for Vanguard, two
grants from the Rockefeller Foundation were crucial for the Louisville Orchestra to
record the commissioned works.114 A grant of $400,000 in 1953 helped launch the
recording project, and a second grant of $100,000 in 1955 helped sustain the project,
called the First Edition series. The first installment of recordings, including twelve
records, were produced in 1955. By the end of the 1970s, the series included more than a
hundred recordings and most of them were premiere recordings. Whitney’s successor
Jorge Mester also recorded unrecorded, nineteenth-century works.115 Individual mailorder subscribers, libraries, and music schools subscribed to the series, because these
recordings provided “important documentation of certain aspects of American
composition during the mid-20th century.”116
The Louisville Orchestra’s ascent to fame was reminiscent of the story of the
Utah Symphony in that they both looked for paths less trodden in the market of classical
music recordings. Their exact paths, however, were different. The First Edition series did
not bring the expected profit, partly because, unlike the Utah Symphony, the Louisville
musicians were paid at the national scale mandated by the American Federation of
Musicians. In addition, the Louisville Orchestra started its own label and recorded mostly
newly-commissioned works, whereas the Utah Symphony worked with an established
114
Mauskapf, “The American Orchestra as Patron and Presenter, 1945–Present: A Selective Discography,”
385.
115
Hart, Orpheus in the New World, 196.
116
Ibid., 195–196.
67
label and recorded neglected works. Nonetheless, through national publicity, recordings
brought both orchestras under the spotlight and promoted their growth.117
117
Ibid., 197.
68
CHAPTER 4. MAHLER IN UTAH, 1951–1964
In September 2014, the Utah Symphony announced its plan to perform the Mahler
symphony cycle in two seasons; the first four symphonies were programmed in the 2014–
2015 season and the rest in the 2015–2016 season. Explaining his choice of Mahler as the
two-season focus, Music Director Thierry Fischer stated, “The Utah Symphony is still
very much alive as a Mahler orchestra” and that the Mahler cycle was a natural choice for
the seventy-fifth anniversary.1 To complement the Mahler performances, the McKay
Music Library at the University of Utah uploaded digitized versions of Abravanel’s
Mahler scores as each symphony was performed,2 and orchestra members were
interviewed for their memories about the times when they recorded Mahler under
Abravanel’s direction.3 These concerts would also bring forth two new Mahler
recordings—the First Symphony was released on September 11, 2015, and the Eighth
was recorded with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on February 19 and 20, 2016 and
schedule to be released in 2017.4 Mahler is again celebrated in many forms in Salt Lake
City.
The Symphony’s initial steps towards programming Mahler’s works began in the
1950s, culminating with Abravanel’s recordings of Mahler’s Eighth and Seventh
1
Catherine Reese Newton, “Utah Symphony revving up Mahler cycle again,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 7
September 2014,
http://entertainment.sltrib.com/articles/view/utah_symphony_revving_up_the_mahler_cycle_again,
accessed 7 September 2014.
2
“The Annotated Mahler Scores,” School of Music, The University of Utah,
http://music.utah.edu/students/mckay-music-library/Scores.php, accessed 12 September 2014.
3
“Abravanel Memories,” Utah Symphony, http://www.utahsymphony.org/the-mahler-cycle/abravanelmemories, accessed 4 July 2015.
4
“Utah Symphony releases first recording under Music Director Thierry Fischer, Mahler Symphony No. 1,
on September 11,” Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, 21 August 2015, http://www.usuo.org/news-more/pressreleases/item/188-utah-symphony-recording-mahler-thierry-fischer, accessed 5 September 2015.
69
Symphonies in 1963 and 1964, respectively. Requiring three choruses, the Eighth
Symphony showcased Salt Lake City’s long choral tradition and Vanguard’s
entrepreneurship; the Seventh Symphony suited Abravanel’s propensity for conducting
underrepresented works. Abravanel’s decision to use the Critical Edition, newly
published in 1960, distinguished the recording from others, as this was the first Mahler
recording performed from a Critical Edition. Both recordings filled gaps in the catalog
and had immediate and long-felt repercussions. In 1974 Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony set a record by becoming the first American orchestra to have recorded a full
cycle of Mahler’s symphonies. Although Abravanel’s Mahler recordings were joined and
overshadowed by newer ones, they helped the Utah Symphony break into the national
and international markets and turned Mahler into a local favorite.
This chapter examines Abravanel’s Mahler performances from 1951 to 1965, his
first two recordings of Mahler’s symphonies, and the reception of the recordings. The
first performances before 1963 often included more popular works that featured vocalists,
which helped attract the local audience accustomed to choral music. In 1963 and 1964,
the concerts of the Eighth and Seventh Symphonies received welcoming reviews that
detailed the musicians’ remarkable performance, the active attendance of the local
audience, and local critics’ acceptance of the composer’s music. The recordings were
reviewed in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, London, Lausanne,
etc. The level of coverage—national and international—helped fuel local pride in the
orchestra. Besides commenting on the recordings, reviews indicated the increasing
demand for Mahler’s music in America, myths about the composer, and the listeners’
preference for more passionate, emotional readings of Mahler, especially evident in the
70
popularity of Bernstein’s recordings. The Mahler Medal from the Bruckner Society of
America and congratulatory letters from Erwin Ratz, the president of the Internationale
Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft and the editor of the Critical Editions, joined the array of
outside recognitions. Through the words of local and outside critics and reviewers, this
chapter considers how Abravanel’s concerts and recordings of Mahler’s symphonies
transformed a regional orchestra into a source of local pride and international renown.
Performances of Mahler’s Music in Utah from 1951 to 1961
Before conducting and recording Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 1963, Abravanel
programmed Mahler’s works six times (see Table 4.1). Through these performances, the
Utahn audience experienced Mahler’s music live and, through the program notes, learned
about his life, works, place in music history, and the myth that he had been forgotten
since his death. Among the six performances, five included at least one vocalist,
demonstrating the strong vocal music scene in Utah. With the exception of the Second
Symphony, these early performances featured Mahler’s most popular works. Perhaps
thanks to Abravanel’s purposeful selection of more accessible pieces, Mahler’s music
was readily welcomed by the community.
Table 4.1: Performances of Mahler’s Music in Utah, 1951–1961
Date
January 10, 1951
Mahler work
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: Blanche
Christensen, soprano)
Other works
Hindemith’s Matthias the Painter
William Grant Still’s Adagio and
Animato from Afro-American
Symphony
71
Table 4.1. Continued
January 21, 1953
January 20, 1954
Das Lied von der Erde
(Soloists: Nell
Tangeman, contralto;
and Raymond Manton,
tenor)
First Symphony
October 31, 1956
Lieder eines fahrenden
Gesellen
(Soloist: Risë Stevens,
mezzo soprano)
March 16, 1960
Second Symphony
(Soloists: Beryl Jensen,
alto; and Jean Preston,
soprano)
Adagietto from the Fifth
Symphony
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: Jean Preston,
soprano)
November 15,
1961
Schubert’s Eighth Symphony
Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary
Handel’s Concerto No. 10 in D minor
(Adagio—Allegro)
Walter Piston’s Prelude and Allegro for
Organ and Strings
Debussy’s La Mer
Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture
Gluck’s Che Faro, Handel’s Where’er
You Walk, and Mozart’s Voi Che Sapete
Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4
Bizet’s Two Arias from “Carmen”
Rimsky Korsakov’s Cappricio
Espagnol
Brahms’s Third Symphony
Copland’s Outdoor Overture
The 1950s
Three of the Mahler performances in the 1950s featured at least one vocalist. The
first vocalist to appear with the Utah Symphony, Blanche Christensen, was a native of
Los Angeles, who got married in 1945 and settled down in Salt Lake City. She performed
with the Utah Symphony between 1947 and 1968 and taught voice lessons for more than
72
40 years in Salt Lake City.5 She would again sing in the 1963 concert and recording of
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony as well as the 1966 performance of Mahler’s Second
Symphony. A mezzo-soprano, Risë Stevens sang with the Met from 1938 to 1961 and
was known for the role of Bizet’s Carmen, which she sang 124 times.6 Fittingly, the 1956
concert included two arias from this opera. Her fame brought in an audience of 4,000.7
Concert reviews singled out Stevens’s performance; Conrad Harrison called it “superb”
and “with rare intelligence and vocal beauty” and praised the symphony’s
“improvements and growth.”8 Durham considered Stevens a “co-artist with the orchestra”
and the performance of the work “moving” and “dramatic.”9 Although the 1956 concert
was Stevens’s only Mahler performance with the Utah Symphony, many more
established singers would appear in the Utah Symphony’s performances of Mahler’s
music.10 Respectively, Christensen and Stevens exemplified how the Utah Symphony
built long-term partnerships with local vocalists and invited guest singers to attract
listeners.
5
“Blanche Christensen,” Deseret News, 6 December 2009,
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/deseretnews/obituary.aspx?n=blanche-christensen&pid=136933884,
accessed 30 September 2015.
6
Margalit Fox, “Risë Stevens, Opera Singer, Dies at 99,” The New York Times, 21 March 2013,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/arts/music/rise-stevens-opera-singer-dies-at-99.html, accessed 1
October 2015.
7
Conrad Harrison, “Symphony, Rise Stevens Thrill 4,000 At Debut,” Deseret News and Telegram, 1
November 1956, Maurice Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 82, Special Collections and Archives, University
of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
8
Ibid.
9
Lowell Durham, “Symphony Opens 17th Season,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 November 1956, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 82.
10
Beverly Sills and Maureen Forrester, for example, performed Mahler’s works with the Utah Symphony,
as will be discussed later.
73
The announcements, program notes, and reviews of the early concerts revealed
the support from local music critics, in particular Lowell Durham and Conrad Harrison.11
Durham was a central figure in Salt Lake City and a close friend of Abravanel. He earned
his Ph.D. in composition from the University of Iowa in 1945. After returning to Utah in
1946, he was the music director at the local radio station KSL, taught at the University of
Utah, and wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune. Beginning in 1948, he wrote program notes
for the Utah Symphony throughout Abravanel’s directorship.12 His Abravanel! would be
the only book-length biography of the conductor, documenting Abravanel’s time with the
Utah Symphony.
Durham played no small part in Utah’s Mahler tradition. Like Abravanel, Durham
was a Mahlerite. In Iowa, he studied with composer-conductor Philip Greeley Clapp, a
recipient of the Mahler Medal from the Bruckner Society of America in 1942. Under
Clapp, Durham performed in Mahler’s Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Symphonies as
well as Das Lied von der Erde and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen.13 In the program
notes for Utah’s first Mahler concert, Durham revealed his interest in the composer and
expressed his hope that Abravanel would continue to program Mahler.14 In his concert
review for the 1954 performance of Mahler’s First Symphony, he confessed that he was
11
Local critics mainly worked for Salt Lake City’s two biggest newspapers, the Deseret News and The Salt
Lake Tribune, established in 1850 and 1870, respectively.
12
Between 1947 and 1964, Durham was the chief administrative officer for the College of Fine Arts of the
University of Utah for sixteen years, first as a shadow dean then as the dean in 1954. He was instrumental
in allowing the symphony rehearse on campus for twenty years since 1948. Throughout the years, he
remained the “liaison man for the university with the symphonies.” Lowell Durham, “Lowell Durham, Salt
Lake City, Utah: an interview by Winnifred Margetts,” Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, Tape Nos.
U-441 and U-442, 27 March 1986, 5, 10, 12–14, 16–17, 22, 27–30, 38, 48–52.
13
Lowell Durham, “Performing Arts: He Gambled and Won,” s.n., 3 December 1964, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 83.
14
Lowell Durham, Program Notes, 10 January 1951, 21, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 31.
74
“one of those who have needled Mr. Abravanel to bring more Mahler to our community”
and thought that it would take more time for the community to embrace Mahler, because
“Mahler’s babies are never the regular nine-month variety; their incubation period is
somewhat longer.”15 Although Abravanel himself was a Mahlerite and would have
programmed Mahler’s music without Durham’s suggestion, it probably helped to have
another Mahler enthusiast to support his programming decisions.
Conrad Harrison had been a local critic and would also be a longtime supporter of
Abravanel and the Utah Symphony. He worked at the Logan Herald Journal and the Salt
Lake Telegram before joining the Deseret News in 1941, focusing on sports. He was on
the committee that hired Abravanel. In the 1950s, he was a music critic at the Deseret
News.16 Harrison left the newspaper business in 1960 when he was appointed as a water
commissioner. From 1974 to 1976 he was the Salt Lake City mayor.17 He would later
write Five Thousand Concerts, the only book on the Utah Symphony’s history.18
The 1960s
Through famous vocalists, enthusiastic critics, and a knowledgeable conductor,
the community was given a strong introduction to Mahler’s music; after the warm-up
15
Lowell Durham, “Organ Wizard Schreiner Thrills Concert Throng,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 January
1954, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 74.
16
Paul Rolly, “Ex-mayor, journalist loved music,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 February 2008,
http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_8258633, accessed 5 July 2015.
17
“Conrad Harrison, former mayor, dies,” Deseret Morning News, 14 February 2008,
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695253024/Conrad-Harrison-former-mayor-dies.html?pg=all,
accessed 5 July 2015.
18
Conrad B. Harrison, Five Thousand Concerts: A Commemorative History of the Utah Symphony (Salt
Lake City, Utah: Utah Symphony Society, 1986).
75
period featuring Mahler’s most popular works, his more difficult works would be
introduced to Utahns in the 1960s in concerts and recordings. In 1960, Abravanel
programmed an all-Mahler concert, featuring the Second Symphony and the Adagietto of
the Fifth Symphony. This concert opened the most intense Mahler decade in Utah, in
which Abravanel scheduled more than ten performances and recorded six symphonies
with the Utah Symphony.
The 1960s was an exciting decade for Mahler’s music. In 1960, the New York
Philharmonic held a Mahler festival with three prominent conductors: Bruno Walter,
Dimitri Mitropoulos, and Leonard Bernstein. The First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh
(first Nachtmusik only), Ninth, and Tenth (Adagio only) as well as four Rückert songs,
Kindertotenlieder, and Das Lied von der Erde were programmed with works by, for
example, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, and Liszt.19 Bernstein dedicated
one Young People’s Concert to Mahler—entitled “Who Is Gustav Mahler?”—and
recorded his first Mahler cycle between 1960 and 1967.20 In Los Angeles, William
Malloch recorded the memories of musicians who knew or played under Mahler.21 These
interviews were issued on the bonus LP for Bernstein’s fourteen-record Mahler cycle.22
Although Mahler had been programmed in America between his death and 1960, the
New York Philharmonic boosted Mahler’s popularity through concerts, recordings, and
television.
19
Christopher Jarrett Page, “Leonard Bernstein and the Resurrection of Gustav Mahler” (Ph.D., University
of California, Los Angeles, 2000), 180–181.
20
Page, 219–232, 323–360.
21
Edward R. Reilly, “Mahler in America,” in The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald Mitchell and
Andrew Nicholson, 422–437 (Oxford University Press, 1999), 433.
22
Page, 361–363.
76
As the Utah press observed the festivities around the nation, the Utah
Symphony’s 1960 concert was excitedly anticipated—“[a] big turnout is expected.”23
Many newspapers noted the scale of the work as well as the special timing for Mahler’s
centennial.24 The press emphasized that the Second Symphony was more difficult than
the ones previously performed; Durham’s concert review was titled “Difficult
‘Resurrection’ Symphony Wins Plaudits,” and Harrison stated “That [Abravanel’s]
orchestra responded through the extremely difficult score with one of its finest
performances, was also much to his credit.”25 Jean Preston, the soprano in the concert,
was a local vocalist; a native of Montpelier, Idaho, Preston studied music in Salt Lake
City, moved to Los Angeles, and later moved back to Salt Lake City.26 She would later
participate in more Mahler performances.27 The concert lived up to expectations.
Harrison called the concert “sensational,” and the audience gave a standing ovation.28
Durham applauded Abravanel and the orchestra’s performance—“[the orchestra] had
prepared themselves well for this work’s first local performance”—and especially praised
the “thrilling performance” of the chorus.29
23
“Ends Successful Season: Utah Symphony Final Tonight,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 March 1960.
24
Ibid.
25
Lowell Durham, “Difficult ‘Resurrection’ Symphony Wins Plaudits,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 March
1960; Conrad Harrison, “Season’s Finale: Orchestra, Vocalists Rise to New Heights,” Deseret News and
Telegram, 19 March 1960, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
26
“West Soprano Jean Preston Dated in Utah,” Deseret News, 11 April 1958.
27
Other vocalists in this performance included Beryl Smiley (alto) and the University of Utah chorus.
28
Conrad Harrison, “Season’s Finale: Orchestra, Vocalists Rise to New Heights,” Deseret News and
Telegram, 19 March 1960, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
29
Durham, “Difficult ‘Resurrection’ Symphony Wins Plaudits.”
77
One more concert featuring Mahler’s music took place before 1963. On
November 15, 1961, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony was programmed with Johannes
Brahms’s Third Symphony and Aaron Copland’s “Outdoor Overture.” The 1961 concert
again featured Jean Preston. Music and art critic Harold Lundstrom from the Deseret
News reviewed the concert with obvious enthusiasm;30 he called the performance of
Brahms “delightfully full-blooded” and with “honeyed warmth” and praised Abravanel
for “integrating some of the rather loosely constructed passages in which Mahler
occasionally seems to be hunting around for something to say.”31 As a whole, these six
performances—with two songs, two shorter symphonies, and the difficult Second—
brought Mahler’s better-known works into Utah. The next two performances would
feature two of Mahler’s least-known works.
Eighth Symphony, “Symphony of a Thousand”
As described by Abravanel, the 1963 performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony
in Utah was a “mad” and “enormous undertaking.”32 Close to nine hundred performers
were on stage, and more than five thousand listeners were in the audience. In the same
30
Harold Lundstrom’s relationship with the Utah Symphony was not as close as that of Durham and
Harrison. Abravanel pointed out several occasions when Lundstrom’s reports were faulty. According to the
maestro, when the symphony played for the Ballet West, the ballet thought Abravanel asked too much for
his musicians. (Maurice Abravanel, interview by Jay M. Haymond, 7 October 1981, Utah State Historical
Society Oral History Program, 30, Abravanel papers, Ms 517, Box 4.) In response to the incident,
Lundstrom started expressing his view that Salt Lake City needed another orchestra and “criticizing badly
whenever the Symphony played for Ballet or Opera.” (Abravanel, interview by Jay M. Haymond, 7
October 1981.) In Lundstrom’s concert reviews of the Utah Symphony’s Mahler performances, he did
occasionally mention the negative side of the concerts without directly criticizing the symphony.
31
Harold Lundstrom, “Symphony Wins High Praise For Concert,” Deseret News and Telegram, 16
November 1961, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 75.
32
Abravanel, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award”; Paul Wetzel, “Mahler 8th,”
The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 April 1978, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 124.
78
spirit as the world and American premieres, the Utah premiere was communal; moreover,
because it took place at the Mormon Tabernacle, the Utah concert accentuated the
spiritual aspect of the work.
Premieres
The compositional history and premieres of the Eighth Symphony infused
important meaning into the work. When Mahler finished the symphony in the summer of
1906, he was quite satisfied with the work: “I have finished my Eighth Symphony. It is
the grandest thing I have done yet, and so peculiar in content and form that it is really
impossible to write anything about it. Try to imagine the whole universe beginning to
ring and resound. These are no longer human voices, but planets and suns revolving.”33
The all-inclusive nature of the work, when translated into performances, required the
collective effort of the community.
On September 10, 1910, when Mahler premiered this work (his last time
premiering his own work), the event was truly grand; the performance venue had 3,200
seats. To sell tickets, the impresario gave the work an evocative nickname, “Symphony of
a Thousand,” which fittingly described the large number of performers for this premiere.
The large scale also changed the meaning of the performance venue and audience. As
Karen Painter notes, the “location of the performance became important to musical
listening in ways never mentioned in reviews of Mahler’s earlier symphonies.”34
33
Mahler’s letter of 18 August 1906, quoted in La Grange, Gustav Mahler, Vol. 3: Vienna: Triumph and
Disillusion, 1904–1907 (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 926.
34
Karen Painter, “The Aesthetics of Mass Culture: Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and Its Legacy,” in Mahler
and His World, edited Karen Painter (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2002), 138.
79
Additionally, the audience became a key aspect of the performance—“the conductor and
audience were as much part of the experience as was the sounding music.”35 In short,
from the beginning, performances of Mahler’s Eighth became events of the masses,
contributed by musicians onstage, the audience offstage, and the venue housing the
concerts.36
Six years later, at its Philadelphia premiere, Mahler’s Eighth was again an event
of the masses. After witnessing the Munich premiere by Mahler, Leopold Stokowski
wanted to premiere the work in the United States, which took place on March 2, 1916
with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stokowski’s successful American premiere brought
eight more performances in Philadelphia and one at the Metropolitan Opera on April 9,
1916. The American premiere, as David Paul argues in his dissertation, was meaningful
to the community; the large scope of Mahler’s Eighth “virtually guaranteed the
involvement of amateurs” and therefore united the community.37 Donald Mitchell
expressed a similar view: the Eighth Symphony, requiring “both amateurs (the chorus)
and professionals (soloists and orchestra),” exhibited a “communal character, an
apparatus designed for communal participation, to exalt and ennoble, inspire and
35
Ibid., 140.
36
Although Painter used the term “masses” to relate to political movements, in particular the Austrian
Social Democratic reform, I use the terms “masses” and “mass” to emphasize the participation of a large
number of people, including musicians, amateurs, and the audience. See more details in Painter, “The
Aesthetics of Mass Culture: Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and Its Legacy,” 127–156.
37
David Christopher Paul, “Converging Paths to the Canon: Charles Ives, Gustav Mahler, and American
Culture” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Berkeley, 2006), 158. See more details about how
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was received in Philadelphia in 1916 in Paul’s dissertation, in particular in
pages 160–168.
80
enjoy.”38 The strong sense of being a community, furthermore, turned into a pride for
achieving more than other communities, in Philadelphia’s case, New York.39
Concert in Salt Lake City: December 7, 1963
In 1963, Salt Lake City excitedly awaited the “most ambitious musical
undertaking in the history of the Utah Symphony Orchestra.”40 Jim Fitzpatrick, arts and
culture editor at The Salt Lake Tribune in the early 1960s,41 called the work the
“highpoint of this year’s season” in the season announcement. Both Alma Mahler’s
praise of Abravanel as the “ideal conductor” for Mahler’s music and Abravanel’s
borrowing of Bruno Walter’s score fueled the anticipation.42 As the concert neared, the
excitement of the orchestra’s recording project intensified. The recording sessions
following the concert were repeatedly mentioned in the newspapers. The composer’s
claim that the Eighth was “the greatest work” of his and “a gift to the nation…a great
dispenser of joy” was quoted.43 To prepare for the concert, the 85-member orchestra was
38
Donald Mitchell, “The Twentieth Century’s Debt to Mahler: Our Debt to Him in the Twenty-first (2001),”
in Discovering Mahler: Writings on Mahler, 1955–2005, selected by Gastón Fournier-Facio and Richard
Alston; edited by Gastón Fournier-Facio, co-ordinating editor Jill Burrows (Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK ;
Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2007), 563–564.
39
Paul, “Converging Paths to the Canon: Charles Ives, Gustav Mahler, and American Culture,” 164.
40
“Symphony, Soloists, Choruses Ready Saturday Concert Classic,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 December
1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
41
Tim Fitzpatrick, “Editor Column: The Tribune has been my family home for a century,” The Salt Lake
Tribune, 14 April 2015,
http://www.sltrib.com/content404v4.php?ref=/entertainment/nightlife/sltrib/news/56150011-78/tribuneeditor-lake-salt.html.csp, accessed 5 July 2015.
42
Jim Fitzpatrick, “‘Firsts’ Spark the Selections: Massive and Powerful Is Orchestra Season,” The Salt
Lake Tribune, 15 September 1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
43
Harold Lundstrom, “Music in the News: ‘Symphony of Thousand’ Set Saturday,” Deseret News and
Telegram, 5 December 1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
81
expanded. Seven soloists from the Metropolitan Opera Studio joined the Utah musicians,
including David Clatworthy (baritone), Jeannine Crader (soprano), Nancy Williams
(mezzo), Malcolm Smith (bass), Lynn Owen (soprano), Marlena Kleinman (mezzo), and
Stanley Kolk (tenor). One more soloist was the local soprano Blanche Christensen, who
had sung at the 1951 performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Three local choirs
joined the event: two University of Utah Choruses, directed by Newell B. Weight and
John Marlow Nielson, and the children’s chorus directed by Vernon J. Lee-Master,
supervisor of music in the Salt Lake Public Schools. The sheer scale of the performance
was meticulously calculated—400–500 chorus singers from two adult choirs, 150–200
children, 110–150 orchestra musicians, 8 soloists, 1 organist, and 1 conductor—“the
biggest (numerically) musical project the Utah Symphony Orchestra has ever done.”44
The concert was attended by a “capacity audience of 5,500,” who “responded
with a standing ovation.”45 Salt Lake critics could hardly express their enthusiasm. Jim
Fitzpatrick opened his review summarizing the concert: “Gigantic musical exaltation
delivered with unforgettable power constituted the lavish early Christmas present with
which the Utah Symphony Orchestra nearly overwhelmed a jam-packed audience in the
Salt Lake Tabernacle Saturday night.”46 Harold Lundstrom called the concert “superb”
and in particular applauded the soloists and choruses.47
44
Ibid.
45
Lowell Durham, “Utah/Mahler in the Tabernacle,” Musical America 84 (February 1964): 14–15.
46
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Majesty, Power of Mahler Symphony Awe Audience,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 8
December 1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
47
Harold Lundstrom, “Utah Symphony Superb In Mahler Performance,” Deseret News and Telegram, 9
December 1963, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
82
Similar to the Munich and Philadelphia premieres, the Utah performance of
Mahler’s Eighth brought a strong sense of community to Salt Lake City. Utah
newspapers emphasized the challenge to program such a monumental work, for which
the Utahns were proud of the orchestra’s endeavor, the available choruses in the
community, and the large Mormon Tabernacle that could host the event. Furthermore,
Utahns viewed the successful concert as proof of their musical standing. Many
newspaper articles mentioned that the concert was the work’s Utah premiere and the
second performance to the west of the Mississippi River (with the first by Eugene
Ormandy at the Hollywood Bowl in 1948) to support the claim that Salt Lake City was an
important musical center in the Western United States.48
While Mahler’s Eighth Symphony’s need for a large number of musicians united
the community, its spiritual connotations brought together Mormons and non-Mormons
at the Tabernacle. Literary scholar Carl Niekerk examines the literary and cultural
contexts of the Eighth Symphony to construct a coherent reading of the texts. According
to Niekerk, the sacred Latin text in a medieval hymn, “Veni, Creator Spiritus,” in the first
movement “demonstrates the existence of a tradition within Christianity . . . that centers
on the body and is close to Oriental wisdom,” while the German text from the last section
of Goethe’s Faust in the second movement “postulates the possibility of a global
community characterized both by difference and sameness.”49 The two movements
therefore fuse into a spiritual work; as the prayer in the first movement sets the stage for
48
“About Symphony No. 8,” Colorado MahlerFest,
http://mahlerfest.org/mfXXII/AboutSymph8/aboutsymph8.html; “Symphonic Music and Opera,”
Hollywood Bowl, http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/philpedia/hollywood-bowl-history/symphonic-musicand-opera; both accessed 19 June 2015.
49
Carl Niekerk, “Mahler’s Goethe,” The Musical Quarterly 89 (2006), 261.
83
receiving divine bliss, Faust’s being carried into heaven in the second movement
transmits transcendental joy. As Niekerk explains, “Mahler’s symphony seeks to
articulate a truly transcultural model, one that aims at a notion of community that is
global and inclusive, not exclusive and national.”50
The performance venue occupied a central place of the performance. The
Mormon Tabernacle’s roof is “150 feet across and 150 feet long” with approximately
7,000 seats. Acoustically, it was designed to ensure that everyone could hear the speaker
clearly, since amplifiers were not available when the tabernacle was completed in 1867.51
Symbolically, performing such a pan-religious work at the Mormon Tabernacle
emphasized the universal, all-inclusive aspect of music and religion. For Mormons, the
sacredness of the venue may have further authenticated the symphony’s religious
significance. For others, the Tabernacle was transformed into a place for people of all
religions to experience spirituality and music. Fitzpatrick used words like “majesty,”
“awe,” and “exalted” to describe the music, emphasizing spirituality. Lundstrom
described how the symphony revealed “Mahler’s preoccuption [sic] and fascination with
heaven and heavenly life” and “expressed a serene belief in the ultimate triumph of
man.”52 Transcending religious branches and bringing together professional and amateur
musicians, the Eighth Symphony provided an opportunity to unite Mormons and nonMormons as well as performers and the audience in Salt Lake City.
50
Ibid.
51
“The Remarkable Acoustics of the Salt Lake Tabernacle,” Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 22 May 2014,
http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/articles/acoustics-of-the-salt-lake-tabernacle.html?lang=eng,
accessed 18 December 2015.
52
Lundstrom, “Utah Symphony Superb In Mahler Performance.”
84
Recording Sessions and the Making of the Recording
At first glance, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony might be an unusual choice as the first
Mahler symphony to record. If the number of performers posed a challenge to live
performances, the challenge of making a recording was greater. Indeed, at this time, there
were few monaural recordings from the previous decade and nobody had made a stereo
recording of the work. Upon a closer look, Mahler’s Eighth was a logical choice for Utah.
With the long history of choral music, Salt Lake City could provide multiple choruses
and a venue large enough to host nine hundred performers. After knowing that both
Leonard Bernstein and Eugene Ormandy would not record this symphony, Abravanel
decided to take on the challenge.53 As discussed in Chapter 3, the Utah Symphony’s
partnership with Vanguard began with recording choral works including Robertson’s
Oratorio from the Book of Mormon and Honegger’s Le Roi David. After the success of
Le Roi David, Vanguard promised to record any works Abravanel chose.54 Moreover,
Mahler was not a difficult pick for Vanguard, because both owners, Seymour and
Maynard Solomon, were Mahlerites.
The recording sessions of the Eighth were scheduled on three days: December 9
to 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. and an optional session at 4 p.m. on December 12, which was not
used.55 The sessions took place at the Mormon Tabernacle, as would the rest of the
Mahler cycle. The recording was done with “very long takes,” the typical way Abravanel
53
Abravanel, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award.”
Bernstein, however, did record the Eighth in its entirety in 1966. Released in 1967, his recording
was a major competitor of Abravanel’s.
54
Abravanel, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award.”
55
“Utah Symphony, Tentative Schedule,” Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 26.
85
and the Utah Symphony recorded.56 By recording long sections, Abravanel aimed to
preserve spontaneity, “the feeling of something really being created right on the spot, not
just reproduced perfectly over and over again.”57 In many recording sessions, the
orchestra pianist Ardean Watts was responsible for sitting “with Seymour Solomon in the
recording booth with the score” to “pick out any mistakes and mark them,” and therefore
he clearly observed the sessions and experienced the effects of long takes. He described
how the sessions went:
. . . both [Abravanel] and Seymour Solomon have the philosophy that continuity
was everything. And they did not like to record little snippets. Abravanel would
get started on a movement and he would want to just keep going. And Seymour
would say the same to me backstage. He said it’s amazing! Why did they keep
going? Why don’t they just stop? . . . I think he shared with Abravanel that there
was some mystic connected with nature. With the beat of music, that once it got
rolling you have to let it roll. And I think in a way the recordings reflect that.
There is a kind of continuity and there is also a kind of don’t get hung up in the
details. Get to the essence. Find the essence and drive for it.58
Watts’s descriptions also accentuated the active role of producers. To produce recordings,
the producer and sound engineer joined the conductor and musicians in the process and
final product. In particular, Solomon ensured the sound would be as good as the current
technology allowed.
The hardware was carefully chosen. Sixteen microphones were placed among the
musicians, ensuring clear reception of the sound. Although some might dislike the
separate sound from each of the sixteen microphones—as opposed to a more unified,
wholesome sound from fewer microphones—many critics specified the number of
56
“Mephisto’s Musings,” High Fidelity / Musical America 16/9 (September 1966), MA-3, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
57
Ibid.
58
Phone interview with author, 18 January 2016.
86
microphones and were impressed with the engineers’ attention to detail. Especially for
the chamber sound in the second movement, the sixteen microphones ensured the
individual instrumental groups were heard clearly. The effect of the sixteen microphones
in Abravanel’s recording was clear when compared to Bernstein’s 1967 recording. In
Abravanel’s recording, the separation of voices in the two channels is obvious: solo
voices usually come through the right channel, and sometimes different choirs come out
from different channels, creating a spatial broadness through sound. Although Bernstein’s
recording is also in stereo, the sound from the two channels is much more similar.59 A
new 3M tape, silver gray 200-series, was used to add “precious extra hiss-free db of quiet
at the low end of the volume range.”60 Therefore, when the level of the entire disc was
held low, the overall sound could then be amplified; according to one critic, “[t]hat’s the
proper way to make the loud parts louder.”61 The tapes were then taken to New York for
editing, and the finished recording was distributed in the U.S. and internationally by
Philips in 1964.
The recording’s liner notes were written by Jack Diether, a music critic, Mahler
scholar, and frequent contributor of liner notes for other Mahler recordings. Besides
musical descriptions, background for the work, translations of the texts, and brief
biographical information about the performers, Diether highlighted some aspects specific
to this recording, which probably inspired other reviewers’ discussion about them. First
of all, Vanguard used sixteen microphones and “a revolutionary new tape permitting
59
Leonard Bernstein and the London Symphony Orchestra, Mahler: Symphony No. 8, Columbia
Masterworks, 1967, LP.
60
Edward Tatnall Canby, “Record Revue: Mahler: Symphony No. 8,” Audio 48/7 (July 1964): 36,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
61
Ibid.
87
dynamic contrasts ranging from ppp to fff to be registered without excessive tape hiss.”
These technologies were utilized to overcome the challenge of recording the large
work—“There are few if any works of music more challenging to the recording process
than the Mahler Eighth Symphony, and by the same token, there are few works in which
a triumph over the difficulties represent so much of a boon to the appreciation of the
music itself.”62 Secondly, Diether listed the impressive number of performers in this
recording—almost nine hundred total—as well as the recording venue, “one of the truly
great auditoriums of the world but also one of the few adequate to handle this colossal
work.” It was curious that he did not name the Mormon Tabernacle but called it “the hall
made available in Salt Lake City.”63 Perhaps Diether wanted to focus on the orchestra in
the notes and not confuse the buyers by mentioning the Tabernacle. With its
distinguished recording methods, hardware, and program notes, Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony’s first Mahler recording was ready to enter the market.
Record Reviews
The recording did not disappoint; it drew wide attention from newspapers and
record magazines in and outside the United States. Robert Sabin from American Record
Guide, for example, commended the achievements and recognized the challenge: “[The
Utah Symphony] could have won far cheaper victories with more popular works,
infinitely easier to perform. But they have nobly attempted to scale one of the mountain-
62
Jack Diether, Liner Notes to Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 8, Maurice Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony Orchestra, Vanguard VSD 71120/1, LP, 1964.
63
Ibid.
88
peaks of music; and I heartily recommend this recording for its spirit of idealism, its
enthusiasm, and its by no means inconsiderable musical power.”64 Robert Marsh, music
critic for Chicago Sun-Times from 1956 to 1993 and for High Fidelity from 1954 to
1972,65 was even more affirming:
My conclusion is that an opportunity has finally been provided to get to
know the Mahler Eighth with the surety that the experience afforded by the
recording will stand up under such concert performances as fate may send my
way. One never gets on cozy terms with this work, any more than one gets cozy
with Mont Blanc, but familiarity—and respect—are now possible for all who seek
them. Moreover, we have discovered a new Mahler conductor of stature and
sympathy in a day when such men are precious indeed.66
Furthermore, Marsh confirmed Abravanel’s contributions to Mahler’s Eighth Symphony,
stating that the recording “may take the Mahler Eighth from the curio department and
convince other conductors and orchestras that it belongs in the regular symphonic
repertory . . .”67 Robert Angles from London’s Records and Recording complimented the
recording: “it will be a long time before I hear anything to match the glory he conjures
from the final pages of the Eighth, setting the seal upon a great Mahler performance that
marks a major event in the history of the gramophone.”68
These and many other reviews celebrated the first stereo recording of the Eighth
Symphony in a studio setting. The lack of a complete, stereo recording prior to that
64
Robert Sabin, “Gustav Mahler: Symphony of a Thousand,” American Record Guide 30/10 (June 1964),
941, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
65
“Robert C. Marsh, 77: Classical Music Critic for 37 Years,” Chicago Tribune, 14 May 2002,
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-05-14/news/0205140038_1_chicago-sun-times-mr-marsh-music,
accessed 12 July 2015.
66
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler's Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” High Fidelity 14/7 (July 1964), 51.
67
Ibid.
68
Robert Angles, “Symphony of a Thousand,” Records and Recording, December 1965, 100, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
89
produced by the Utah Symphony prompted the widely enthusiastic reception. Moreover,
the reviews focused on a variety of merits, ranging from the sound quality, the
conductor’s reading, the musicians’ performance, and the fact that the recording was
done in a Western city instead of a metropolitan city on the East coast. The outside
praises in turn made the symphony a point of pride in Utah. In short, through record
reviews from large cities, the recording spread the name of the orchestra and familiarized
outsiders with Salt Lake City.
Mahler’s Eighth was “a composition that cries out for the advantages of stereo.”69
Thus, the stereo sound could better represent the “mammoth ensemble” and the “episodes
of extreme delicacy and subtlety of coloring, which are just as much of a challenge to the
engineers as its thunderous climaxes.”70 Many reviews from specialized record
magazines detailed the recording’s acoustical and technical merits, especially its
capability of capturing details. In the Audio magazine, Edward Tatnall Canby
meticulously described the technologies involved, including the tapes and microphones.
Vanguard’s use of a new tape, according to Canby, was instrumental in bringing loud
passages to life—“With clean cutting and low rumble on very quiet plastic, the overall
disc level is held deliberately low, relying on higher-than-normal amplifier goin [sic] to
bring out the big climaxes. It works like a charm.”71 The “multi-mike stereo technique”
with sixteen microphones could “provide the musical balance that rounds out each group,
69
Raymond Ericson, “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded
Stereophonically,” The New York Times, 3 May 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
70
Ericson, “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded Stereophonically”;
Sabin, “Gustav Mahler: Symphony of a Thousand,” 938.
71
Edward Tatnall Canby, “Record Revue: Mahler: Symphony No. 8,” Audio 48/7 (July 1964): 36,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
90
preserves the fine hall acoustics and yet projects the detail work without sonic
confusion.”72 Although the microphones did capture sound clearly, not all critics
appreciated the ability to distinguish individual instrumental groups. Bernard Jacobson, in
his 1967 review of Bernstein’s version, preferred the “much warmer ambience” in
Bernstein’s version than “the knife-edge clarity” of Abravanel’s.73 In High Fidelity,
Abravanel’s recording was included in an article titled “Tapes for Demo to Help You
Sell.”74 The recording was praised for the “able, forceful, if by no means definitive
performance” and the “easy revelation of detail, detail which can escape the listener at a
concert performance, which did escape the engineers in the monophonic recordings of the
past.”75 The clarity in the sound was again emphasized.
A recording’s capability of simulating a live concert mattered more to some
critics. Robert Marsh called Abravanel’s recording “the first Mahler Eighth recording that
really provides an experience comparable to that obtained in the concert hall” in his
column in the Chicago Sun-Time.76 In High Fidelity, his review devoted some space to a
discussion of the recording’s sound quality:
The two more important things about this new recording are these: first, it
preserves a performance that is more than equal to doing justice to the music:
secondly, it is technically on such a level that for the first time a playback system
72
Ibid.
73
Bernard Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, in E flat,” High Fidelity Magazine 17/2 (February 1967),
94, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
74
The review also included Mendelssohn’s string quartets played by Juilliard String Quartet (Epic),
Mozart’s piano concerts played by Rubinstein and conducted by Wallenstein (RCA), and works by
Albinoni, Corelli, Manfredini, and Vivaldi (Philips).
75
Edwin S. Bergamini, “Tapes for demo to help you sell,” High Fidelity (December 1964): 48, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
76
Robert Marsh, “Stereo And Hi-Fi: the Mahler 8th,” Chicago Sun-Time, 25 May 1964, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 25.
91
of good quality can really provide an accurate impression of what the work is like
under concert hall conditions. . . .
. . . In this Vanguard set you seem to be in the front row of the balcony
and everything comes to you with the relative tonal values of such a location.
There is a strong sense of being in a big hall, and the performers spread out before
you in an arc as wide as the space between your two speakers. Within the setting
of this stage, voices and the soloists are heard in a natural concert balance.77
This long passage exemplifies Marsh’s two-page review, which exalted every aspect of
the recording.
The stereo sound not only attracted reviewers’ recommendation but also
motivated some of them to learn more about the city and share their knowledge. When
Marsh reviewed the same recording’s tape version, he referred to his July review and
again applauded the sound engineers’ efforts. More importantly, he explained how his
trip to Salt Lake City changed his understanding of the sound space in the Mormon
Tabernacle:
Reviewing the discs, I spoke of a front-row balcony perspective. That
should now be amended. I was sufficiently impressed by the discs to drive, while
on vacation in August, a few hundred miles out of my way in order to have a look
at the Mormon Tabernacle. There I discovered that the Tabernacle has a balcony,
but a shallow one, and that the microphones apparently were placed about
midway on the main floor. Once you have seen the hall, the skill of the engineers
in achieving clarity and perspective is fully appreciated, since the excellent
qualities of the orchestral and vocal performances could easily have been dulled
through uncontrolled reverberation.78
Similarly, Martin Bookspan from New York’s WQXR took a trip to Salt Lake City and
wrote, “A few months ago I was in Salt Lake City, visiting with several of the community
and University leaders in the fields of music and the dance. Scenically, Salt Lake City
can hold its own with any of the glorious mountain cities in Switzerland, Austria or
77
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler’s Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” High Fidelity 14/7 (July 1964), 51.
78
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, in E flat,” High Fidelity 14/11 (November 1964): 137–138.
92
Northern Italy.”79 Saturday Review’s review focused on the acoustics in the Mormon
Tabernacle, “whose ample resonance and exceptional responsiveness are clearly audible
from the first burst of ‘Veni, creator.’” The reviewer pointed out that the venue was
unnamed in Jack Diether’s liner note, but the “unmistakable sound” was “the world’s
most unkeepable secret.”80 These reviews brought the location—Salt Lake City or the
Mormon Tabernacle—into the discussion of music.
In addition to stressing the stereo sound or introducing Salt Lake City, many
reviews demonstrated the need for a stereo recording by comparing available recordings.
Hermann Scherchen’s 1951 recording, by Columbia Masterworks with the Vienna
Symphony Orchestra, and Eduard Flipse’s 1954 recording, by Epic Record and with the
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, were both monaural.81 Bernstein made a stereo
recording of the first movement in the inauguration concert of Carnegie Hall in 1962, but
the movement was “only a third of the score.”82 Robert Marsh’s selective discography
from 1960 mentioned Flipse’s version as the only one for Mahler’s Eighth and stated that
it would “assist those with good imaginations in forming a reasonable impression of this
work; but more than that it cannot do. If you want to get to know the Eighth, this
monophonic-only version is worth its price, but let us hope for better.”83 Mark Koldys
stated that “sonically” Scherchen’s was “a sorry issue, and Columbia could have done
79
Martin Bookspan, “Music scene,” WQXR, 31 May 1964, radio show script, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 25.
80
“Recordings in Review: Mahler from Utah,” Saturday Review, 27 June 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 25.
81
In England, only Scherchen’s version was available.
82
Ericson, “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded Stereophonically.”
83
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler on Microgroove: A Selective Discography,” High Fidelity 10/7 (July 1960),
75.
93
more to improve the fidelity. But even the rumbly, clouded sound cannot hide the
masterful interpretation.” The same reviewer called Flipse’s the “worst of the lot”: “a
standard run-through recorded in unexceptional sound. No flashes of inspiration here to
salvage the enterprise: just ordinary playing and conducting.”84 The lack of a stereo,
complete recording at least partially contributed to the wide acceptance of Abravanel’s
recording.
Indeed, the sound in Scherchen’s and Flipse’s recordings could not compete with
that in Abravanel’s. From the beginning, Scherchen’s recording lacks depths, missing
details especially in the lower range, where various instruments are mixed into one
general sound. Moreover, winds and solo voices dominate the sound and overpower low
voices. Overall, the sound is distant and blurry.85 Flipse’s recording was made in a large
auditorium, where the wide space created reverberation and blurred the sound. Voices
and strings from the opening of the first movement, for example, are mixed into one
muddled sound.86 In comparison to these two recordings, Abravanel’s version excels in
clarity and depth.
With the comparison among these recordings, critics reasoned that Abravanel’s
stereo recording facilitated repeated hearing and in turn familiarize the public with
Mahler’s colossal work.87 Raymond Ericson, who was a managing editor at Musical
84
Mark Koldys, “The Supplementary Repertoire: No.1: Mahler: Symphony No. 8,” The Daily Collegian, 4
April 1967, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
85
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 8, Hermann Scherchen, Wiener Symphoniker, Wiener Kammerchor,
Wiener Singakademie, and Wiener Sängerknaben, Forgotten Records, fr 356, 2010, CD.
86
Gustav Mahler, Mahler: Symphonies Nos 8 & 10, Eduard Flipse, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and
Rotterdam Combined Choirs; Wyn Morris, New Philharmonic Orchestra, Scribendum, SC 010, 2003, CD.
87
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony had indeed been rarely performed in the postwar America, although the
work had a different performance history in the prewar Germany. According to musicologist Sybille
Werner, among over 2,000 worldwide performances of Mahler’s orchestral works between 1911 and 1939,
94
America in the mid-1950s and joined The New York Times in 1960,88 wrote, “With a
good recording available, it is possible to become thoroughly acquainted with the
symphony, to become adjusted to some of the qualities that on just a few hearings make
the work seem indigestible.”89 Robert Marsh was excited about the recording mainly
because “the large number of performers involved” prevented the work from being
performed often, and “the next best thing to a live performance is a good stereo
recording.” Marsh believed that repeated listening could benefit this work’s reception—
“The more you listen to the music, the more you realize that it has been maligned by
those who really do not know it very well.”90 Michael Steinberg, music critic for the
Boston Globe from 1964 to 1976, a musicologist, and later the famed program annotator
his Eighth Symphony was performed about 150 times, because “many of the numerous German choral
societies were eager to put on the two big choral symphonies” (with the other one being the Second, which
was performed 250 times). The most popular works were the Fourth Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde,
each of which was performed 350 times. (Sybille Werner, “Appendix 3Ad. A Performance History of
Mahler’s Works,” in Gustav Mahler: A New Life Cut Short (1907-1911), by Henry-Louis de La Grange
(Oxford University Press, 2008), 1661.) Bruno Walter alone conducted the Eighth 14 times between 1912
and 1936. Sybille Werner and Gene Gaudette, “Mahler Misconceived?” liner notes to The Music of Gustav
Mahler Issued 78s, 1903-1940, Urlicht AudioVisual, UAV 5980, 2013, p. 56.
After World War II, America became the center for Mahler performances, but the Eighth
Symphony had not been performed as regularly. Christopher Page’s dissertation on Mahler and Bernstein
listed ten performances of Mahler’s Eighth between 1916 and 1960, a low number compared to almost 80
performances of Mahler’s Second Symphony, which required only one chorus. Three of Mahler’s most
popular symphonies were performed much more often than the Eighth: documentation showed over 100
performances of the First Symphony, 60 performances of the Fourth Symphony, and over 70 performances
of Das Lied von der Erde. Christopher Jarrett Page, “Leonard Bernstein and the Resurrection of Gustav
Mahler” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 2000), 16–29.
88
“Raymond Ericson, 82, Music Critic for The Times,” The New York Times, 31 December 1997,
http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/31/arts/raymond-ericson-82-music-critic-for-the-times.html, accessed 16
July 2015.
89
Ericson, “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded Stereophonically.”
90
Marsh, “Stereo and Hi-Fi: The Mahler 8th.”
95
for the Boston Symphony from 1976,91 similarly applauded Abravanel’s efforts in
supplying a recording for such a large work. He stated that, by having “a recording that
does justice to [the symphony],” listeners could know Mahler’s Eighth better and in turn
understand the Ninth and Das Lied von der Erde.92
As for the performers, American reviews applauded the performance of
Abravanel, the Utah Symphony, and the choirs, but the soloists’ performance was
described as adequate but uneven. Steinberg, for example, described Abravanel’s reading
as “honorably accurate, though like most Mahler performances it is under-accented.”93
Steinberg thought less of the orchestra, in which the strings sounded thin, and the
choruses, whose tone was “unsubstantial.” Nonetheless, the recording was “the best way
now available of hearing the Mahler Eighth.”94 Ericson applauded the entire
production—including the orchestra, which “plays skillfully”; the choruses, who were
“expert and solid in sound”; the soloists, who were “uniformly good”; the sound
engineers, who solved “the physical problems”; and Abravanel, who gave “a coherent,
carefully paced reading.”95
Some critics rejoiced in Abravanel’s reading, some rejected it, and some
embraced it with minor concerns. Taken as a whole, praise outweighed criticisms, and the
maestro’s reading established him as one of the foremost Mahler conductors. Robert
91
Anthony Tommasini, “Michael Steinberg, Music Critic, Teacher and Program Annotator, Is Dead at 80,”
The New York Times, 29 July 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/arts/music/29steinberg.html,
accessed 15 July 2015.
92
Michael Steinberg, “New Recordings: Mahler 8th From Utah And 5th by Bernstein,” Boston Globe, 3
July 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
93
Ibid.
94
Ibid.
95
Ericson, “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded Stereophonically.”
96
Marsh detailed the strength in Abravanel’s performance: “He is deeply involved with this
music, and he plays it not for surface or show but for content. This is a performance with
very broad, powerful phrases, a sure sense of movement, and a line that moves in a
majestic and resolute fashion from one soaring climax to another.” Marsh’s description
emphasized Abravanel’s attention to the overall structure. The conductor’s tempo or
dynamic changes were in line with Mahler’s instructions. His refraining from inserting
personal adjustment to the score or exaggerating local effects kept emphasis on the work.
Moreover, Abravanel was favorably compared to Mahler’s most famous disciple Walter:
“Since I never heard Bruno Walter conduct the work, I cannot tell if his approach is
suggested or not; but much of Walter’s skill as a Mahler conductor was his ability to fuse
the composer’s scores into solid architectural forms, and this power Abravanel also
possesses.”96 Marsh’s review concluded with a bold exclamation, “we have discovered a
new Mahler conductor of stature and sympathy in a way when such men are precious
indeed.”97
Marsh’s comments on Abravanel’s reading demonstrated the praise typically
given to the maestro’s conducting: clearly presenting the structure, remaining loyal to the
score, and focusing on overall effects rather than local effects. Raymond Ericson
commended Abravanel’s “coherent, paced reading.”—“It is more thoughtful than Mr.
Flipse’s somewhat prosaic version, not as exciting as Mr. Bernstein’s roof-raising
performance of the first part. In its measured, honest way, Mr. Abravanel’s recording
makes all the points in the Mahler score. For this the listener should be grateful, since a
96
Marsh, “Mahler’s Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” 50.
97
Ibid., 51.
97
superior recording is not likely to come along for some time.”98 Paul Turok stated “. . .
Maurice Abravanel, whose musical insight and complete control over his performing
forces permits Mahler’s enormous composition to unfold with stately magnificence. The
climatic passages are carefully graduated in intensity, rather than exploded with frenzied
hysteria, so that the overall effect is completely convincing.”99 Marsh’s and Ericson’s
remarks pointed to the conductor’s deliberate choice to focus on the big picture. As
Ardean Watts remembered, Abravanel “would tend to integrate everything.”100
On the other hand, some critics still doubted if Abravanel could deliver a
successful recording. Robert Sabin compared Abravanel to Walter but reached a much
less enthusiastic conclusion than that of Marsh.
Mr. Abravanel, after all, is not a great conductor, and he does not imbue this
visionary score with the sweep, the impact, the unearthly beauty that Bruno
Walter used to bring to Mahler. (If you will compare his phrasing, his dynamics,
his tempos and transitions, and his handling of the choruses and soloists with
those of Mr. Flipse in this work you will see the difference between a veteran,
steeped in the Mahler tradition, and a dedicated, but more tentative,
interpreter).101
Sabin’s evaluation of Abravanel was less detailed and more subjective than Marsh’s;
whether the conductor was “great” was subjective and seemed to carry too much weight.
In other words, the perceived reputation of the conductor predisposed some critics to
undervalue Abravanel’s reading.
Three years later, when Bernstein released his recording of the Eighth in its
entirety, Abravanel’s recording often served as a comparison. In High Fidelity, Bernard
98
Ericson, “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded Stereophonically.”
99
Paul Turok, “On Tape,” Music Journal 22/9 (December 1, 1964): 64.
100
Phone interview with author, 18 January 2016.
101
Sabin, “Gustav Mahler: Symphony of a Thousand,” 938.
98
Jacobson’s review considered both Bernstein’s and Abravanel’s recordings fulfilled three
important requirements for a successful recording for this work: a conductor who had
“the enormous measure of the work,” an orchestra and three choruses that had been
“drilled to a high level of precision,” and a recording that could “do justice to the huge,
resonant climaxes in which the score abounds.”102 Jacobson recognized strengths in both
versions but at the end preferred Bernstein’s:
Bernstein’s gradual broadening of tempo through the big choral development in
Part I is a questionable procedure, and it brings back the Veni, creator spiritus
motif at a speed anti-organically slower than that of the beginning of the
Symphony. To me, Abravanel’s handling of this passage is formally more
satisfying. On the other hand, it could be argued that Bernstein’s holding back is
exactly what is needed to give the start of the recapitulation the overwhelming
weight it needs. . . . In any case, Bernstein’s reading is far and away the finest
over-all realization of the work in my experience. Abravanel achieves a
commendable and valuable degree of accuracy; Bernstein achieves sublimity, and
this is much more to the point.103
The different styles of Abravanel and Bernstein are obvious from the beginning of
the symphony (see Table 4.2 for tempo comparison).104 Abravanel’s recording opens
with a steady tempo between 110 and 120 bpm until m. 42, where “Riten” is marked in
the score. The four-bar ritardando in mm. 42–45 only slows down slightly to around 95
bpm. The tempo drops to around 85 bpm at rehearsal 7, marked as “A tempo.”
Bernstein’s version, on the other hand, has more tempo changes in the first 45 measures.
The opening tempo is noticeably faster than Abravanel’s version, and it quickly slows
down in m. 7 and speeds up upon the entrance of the next “Veni, Veni, creator spiritus”
102
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, in E flat,” 92, 94.
103
Ibid.
104
Gustav Mahler, Gustav Mahler: the Complete Symphonies, Leonard Bernstein, the New York
Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra, Sony, SX12K 89499, 2001, CD.
99
in m. 8. The same slight but quick ritardando happens in mm. 19–20 before entering
“spiritus, o creator, veni” in m. 21. In mm. 42–45, Bernstein’s ritardando, at around 80
bpm, is more obvious than Abravanel’s, accentuating the return to A tempo in m. 46.
Here Bernstein’s tempo is at around 95 bpm, faster than Abravanel’s.
Table 4.2: Tempo comparison, mm. 1–47 of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, first movement
Rehearsal #
1–2
3–6
(Riten)
7
Measure #
1–7
8–20
21–41
42–45
46–47
Abravanel (1963)
110–120 bpm
110–120 bpm
110–120 bpm
~95 bpm
~85 bpm
Bernstein (1966)
130 bpm
110–120 bpm
120–130 bpm
~80 bpm
~94 bpm
Abravanel’s and Bernstein’s different interpretations of the marking ritardando
reveal their different views of the structure. To Abravanel, the ritardando section opens
the next section, as the tempo continues to decrease from m. 42 to m. 46. To Bernstein,
the ritardando in mm. 42–45 bridges two different sections, and therefore its tempo is
much slower than the surrounding sections. By sustaining a steadier tempo, Abravanel
follows more closely the score’s instructions in these 46 measures. The steady tempo also
substantiates many critics’ statements about Abravanel’s interpretation being more loyal
to the score, but less exciting. Bernstein’s decision to change tempos twice before the
ritardando, despite no such indications in the score, explains many people’s impression
that Bernstein’s Mahler was more passionate or exciting, although the conductor could
insert too much of himself into the music. Critics’ comparisons of Bernstein and
Abravanel also revealed a common belief that Mahler’s music required impassioned
exertion. As Abravanel would be compared to Bernstein again when their recordings of
Mahler’s Seventh Symphony were released, we will return to this issue later this chapter.
100
Although the Utah Symphony was not as well-known as Abravanel, the
comments about it were mostly positive. The most ardent supporters celebrated the
victory of a regional orchestra and held that the Utah Symphony had broken the myth that
only star orchestras or orchestras in metropolitan areas could produce good music. Robert
Sabin expressed this point of view:
The most welcome and significant thing about this recording is that it was
achieved in Salt Lake City. That a work of such extraordinary challenge and
superhuman proportions could be prepared, performed, and recorded so well in
one of our Western cities is a heartening tribute to the progress of orchestral
music and of musical taste and understanding in the United States.105
In other words, Abravanel’s recording not only showed the progress of Salt Lake City but
also hinted at the progress of the entire nation.
In his radio show on the New York classical radio station WQXR, Martin
Bookspan106 played the first part of the symphony on May 31, 1964 and described the
performance as “well played and sung” and “well recorded.” Like Kupferberg, Bookspan
applauded the musical achievements of the Utah community and viewed it as an
indication of the overall progress of musical activities in the United States:
And let this be a lesson to those smug dwellers in our large Metropolitan cities
who tend to regard as provincial any musical goings-on west of the Hudson.
There no longer are any musical provinces in this country: one is just as apt to
hear a surpassing performance of the Verdi Requiem in Anchorage, Alaska as in
Philharmonic Hall here in New York.107
More importantly, these two comments and many others from abroad showed that the
Utah Symphony’s first Mahler recording had made the orchestra known nationally and
105
Sabin, “Gustav Mahler: Symphony of a Thousand,” 938, 941.
106
Martin Bookspan later wrote the liner notes for Abravanel’s recordings of Mahler’s Second and Sixth
symphonies as well as the Adagio of the Tenth Symphony.
107
Bookspan, “Music scene.”
101
internationally to a degree that would have been unthinkable had the orchestra merely
championed Mahler through live performances.
Critics agreed less on the vocalists than on other aspects. Overall, the choruses’
performance was recognized. Marsh stated that the choruses were “excellent” and the
soloists “more satisfactory than the group of vocal celebrities gathered on the Columbia
set [Bernstein’s version],” and Raymond Ericson called the choruses “expert and solid in
sound.”108 Negative comments like Steinberg’s were less common; he described the
choruses as “unsubstantial of tone, uncomfortable in the extreme high and low registers,
shaky sometimes when it comes to chromatic intonation” and the soloists “just about
adequate.”109
The soloists were measured against more strict standards than choruses, because,
no matter where this symphony was performed or recorded, most of the singers in the
choruses were amateurs. The general consensus was that the soloists were “a wellselected group of young singers,” but “[s]ome of them are better than others.” Many
critics named their favorite or least favorite soloists. Among the eight soloists, Blanche
Christensen, singing the soprano part of Mater gloriosa, was singled out several times for
praise.110 Malcolm Smith (bass, Pater profundus), Lynn Owen (soprano, Una
poenitentium), and David Clatworthy (baritone, Pater ecstaticus) were also praised.111
108
Marsh, “Stereo And Hi-Fi: the Mahler 8th”; Marsh, “Mahler's Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” 51; Ericson,
“Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded Stereophonically.”
109
Steinberg, “Mahler 8th From Utah And 5th by Bernstein.”
110
Raymond Ericson, for example, stated “Miss Christensen stands out of the ethereal sound of her final
solo, as Mater gloriosa.” in “Disks: Vast 8th: Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ Is At Last Recorded
Stereophonically.”
111
Robert Marsh singled out Smith in “Mahler's Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” 51; Deryck Cooke singled out
Lynn Owen and Blanche Christensen in “Mahler. Symphony No. 8 in E flat major,” The Gramophone,
102
Tenor Stanley Kolk, as Doctor Marianus, was recognized as less satisfactory by several
critics.112 Although using famous soloists, as Bernstein’s Columbus recording did, might
have been an obvious selling point, Abravanel’s recording was attractive in other areas
and the less shining choruses and soloists did not hurt sales.
Many of the outside reviews, in particular those from record magazines or major
newspapers like The New York Times, were frequently quoted in Utah newspapers to
reassure the local audience of the orchestra’s achievements. Fitzpatrick quoted Martin
Bookspan’s praise in his radio show, highlighting Abravanel’s involvement in the Utah
Symphony’s growth.113 Another article from The Salt Lake Tribune quoted Raymond
Ericson’s praise in The New York Times for the sound engineers and conductor.114
Lundstrom extensively quoted Robert Marsh’s review in High Fidelity, which held the
recording in high regard for the soloists, choruses, orchestra, and the recorded sound.115
Lundstrom also quoted Marsh’s statement about Abravanel being a newly discovered
“Mahler conductor,” which would be repeated in Utah newspapers, because for some
recognition from out-of-state major publications confirmed Utah’s own accomplishments.
When Philips released the recording on November 27, 1964 in England, most
British critics embraced it immediately. At this time the Utah Symphony had not been
December 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25; and Michael Steinberg singled out David Clatworthy
in “Mahler 8th From Utah And 5th by Bernstein.”
112
“Recording in Review,” Saturday Review, 27 June 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25; Robert C.
Marsh, “Mahler's Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” 51.
113
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Maestro Scores With Mahler: Symphony Recording Draws N.Y. Accolade,” The Salt
Lake Tribune, 7 June 1964.
114
“N.Y. Times Gives High Praise to Utah Symphony,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 May 1964.
115
Harold Lundstrom, “Abravanel—‘Mahler Conductor of Stature,’” Deseret News, 16 June 1964,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
103
abroad, and its first international tour, taking place in 1966, expanded the reputation
achieved by its recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and later the Seventh. Since the
Utah Symphony was unfamiliar to British critics, the origin of the recording provoked
interesting comments; Wilfrid Mellers wrote, “The new Philips recording of the
Eighth . . . doesn’t probe to the heart of Viennese tradition but reveals, as in Salt Lake
City it well might, the ‘universal’ quality of Mahlerian rhetoric.”116 It was hard to know
what Mellers meant by “universal,” but the word recalled the pan-religious meaning
brought by a performance of the Eighth at the Mormon Tabernacle.
Robert Angles’s review in London’s Records and Recording, spanning three
pages and including a picture of Abravanel conducting Mahler’s Eighth in the Mormon
Tabernacle, provided details about the Eighth and the rare performances of the work: no
recordings were available at that time and only five performances had taken place in
England since the work was composed.117 Angles was impressed with many aspects of
Abravanel’s reading:
[Abravanel’s] reading of the Second Part is penetrating in the extreme, extracting
the utmost from each segment yet maintaining an unobtrusive sense of flow which
unfolds the music effectively yet without undue haste. He is continually alert to
mood and intention . . . But it is his overall control of Mahler’s vast canvas and
his forces that I find most impressive, a control which allows one to participate to
the full in the grandeur of the composer’s unique conception.118
116
Wilfrid Mellers, “After Mahler,” New Statesman, January 1965, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
117
Robert Angles, “Symphony of a Thousand,” Records and Recording (December 1965): 28-29, 100,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
118
Angles, “Symphony of a Thousand,” 100.
104
Angles believed that this recording, “setting the seal upon a great Mahler performance
that marks a major event in the history of the gramophone,” would be difficult to
surpass.119
Deryck Cooke’s review in The Gramophone was one of the few negative ones.
Cooke was one of the most influential critics in England; his performance version of
Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony was first performed on August 13, 1964 and would
be published in 1976 with an extended preface.120 To Cooke, Abravanel’s recording was
a “great improvement” but “hardly the outstanding performance” he had been expecting.
Cooke stated that the recording of Mahler’s Eighth needed “a great interpretation by
international artists of the highest class.”121 The details Cooke pointed out included “an
absence of fierce rhythmic drive in the march music of Part 1, and a lack of sensitivity to
detail in Part 2,” contributing to the “earth-bound” quality. More specifically, in Part II,
Abravanel’s handling of rubato was “awkward,” and the final chorus was not “the real
ppp.” These critiques were subjective and not shared by other reviews. Cooke’s criticism,
atypically harsh among all reviews, was perhaps influenced more by the Utah
Symphony’s regional classification. Furthermore, Cooke thought the choruses and
orchestras overall did well, but noted that the high notes in the sopranos were thin and the
strings lacked “the depth of tone or the virtuosity needed in this music.” The soloists were
disappointing to him. The recorded sound did not receive as much discussion as in other
119
Ibid.
120
Rosemary Williamson, “Cooke, Deryck (Victor),” in Oxford Music Online,
www.oxfordmusiconline.com, accessed 14 July 2015.
121
Cooke, “Mahler. Symphony No. 8 in E flat major.”
105
reviews in record magazines; Cooke was satisfied with the “spacious” stereo sound, but
concerned with the separation of sound.122
Another review in Observer showed a similar tone to that of Cooke. While the
effort was commendable and the sheer existence of a recording of the Eighth was worth
celebrating, the performing group was “just not up to so taxing a piece.” The recorded
sound was indeed “spacious enough,” and Abravanel showed “a real sympathy with the
music.” The reviewer accepted the recording as a valuable addition for the time being but
questioned if it could “stand the test of repeated hearing.”123
Philips also brought the recording to other European countries besides England. A
review from Ireland again reported the sound as “spacious,” although the reviewer only
received a mono recording. The reviewer especially applauded the “admirable sleeve
notes and on enclosing the full text with translation.”124 A review from Lausanne,
Switzerland called the recording “une telle merveille” (such a wonder) and emphasized
how the recording might simulate a live performance: “A écouter cette musique, on
oublie tout cela: on croirait se trouver dans l’auditorium lui-même, comme si les solistes,
le triple chœur et l’Orchestre symphonieque de l’Utah, chantaient et jouaient seulement
pour nous, sous la direction de Maurice Abravanel, maître d’œuvre de la colossale
entreprise.” (“When listening to the music, one forgets everything else: you would think
you were in the auditorium itself, and the soloists, three choruses, and the Utah
122
Ibid.
123
Edmund Tracey, “Giant Symphonies,” Observer, 24 January 1965, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
124
Charles Acton, “Record Review: Doing Justice to Tippett,” The Irish Times, 27 January 1965,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
106
Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maurice Abravanel, the master of the
massive work, sang and played only for us.”)125
Based on the reviews in American newspapers and record magazines as well as in
international publications, Abravanel’s recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony was
largely a success. The endeavor in 1963 was brave, as the maestro recounted fifteen years
later, “I dare say that even my best friends and supporters thought that now I had really
become completely mad, not only to want to perform it, but also to record it.” The
recording was particularly meaningful in that it encouraged other orchestras to perform
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, because, when other orchestras knew of the recording from a
Western city, some of them might think, as Abravanel said, “‘Look, if they [the Utah
Symphony] can do that in Salt Lake, why can’t we?’”126 Although it was difficult to
determine whether Abravanel’s recording of the Eighth did inspire others to record the
work, the recording surely won national and international recognition and introduced the
orchestra to the outside world. With this encouragement, Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony continued their Mahler endeavor.
Seventh Symphony
Mahler’s Seventh Symphony had been commonly recognized as one of the
symphonies from his middle period, a time when the composer turned away from the
125
G. Ribemont-Desaignes, “Les disques: Une Symphonie de Mahler,” Gazette de Lausanne, 27/28 March
1965, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25. (My own translation)
126
Paul Wetzel, “Mahler 8th,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 April 1978, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 124.
107
Wunderhorn works and explored modernistic ideas.127 Despite the popular reception, it
has been a puzzle to comprehend.128 Deryck Cooke describes the symphony as presenting
“an enigmatic, inscrutable fact to the world: a most unusual attitude for a Mahler
symphony and one that arouses suspicions as to its quality.”129 The Finale of the Seventh
has caused debates since its premier. Cooke calls it “largely a failure.”130 Adorno’s
opinion is also harsh: “the Finale of the Seventh embarrasses even those who concede
everything to Mahler. . . . Even on the most strenuous immersion in the work, one will
scarcely be able to deny an impotent disproportion between the splendid exterior and the
meager content of the whole.”131
Scholars have used different strategies to explain the seemingly incoherent
symphony, typically aligning the work with modernism. Robert Samuels identifies
influences on Mahler’s symphonic form in three periods; while the early symphonies
from the First to the Fourth were influenced by Jean Paul, “ending with individualistic
triumph,” the middle symphonies from the Fifth to the Seventh were influenced by
Dostoevsky’s narrative, which posed “the Dostoevskian question of whether some sort of
127
Deryck Cooke described Mahler’s middle period: “Gone are the folk inspiration, the explicit
programmes, the fairy-tale elements, the song materials, the voice: instead we have a triptych of ‘pure’
orchestral works, more realistically rooted in human life, more stern and forthright of utterance, more tautly
symphonic, with a new granite-like hardness of orchestration.” Deryck Cooke, Gustav Mahler: An
Introduction to His Music (Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 71.
128
The problems in interpreting the meaning, timbre, and form for the critics in the fin-de-siècle Vienna
were discussed in Karen Painter’s 1996 dissertation. Karen Painter, “The Aesthetics of the Listener: New
Conception of Music Meaning, Timbre, and Form in the Early Reception of Mahler’s Symphonies 5–7,”
(Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1996).
129
Cooke, Gustav Mahler: An Introduction to His Music, 88.
130
Ibid., 90.
131
Theodor W. Adorno, Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Chicago: University Of
Chicago Press, 1996), 136–137.
108
redemption of their material is possible.”132 While analyzing the Seventh, Steven Allen
Gordon takes into account the political and social contexts.133 He considers the Seventh
an embodiment of “the contradictory impulses and paradoxes that resulted from the
gradual disintegration of Austrian liberal culture, and the characteristic discontinuities of
modernism.”134 Both interpretations emphasize and explain the existence of conflict and
tension, which was also a focus when Utah newspapers discussed the performance of the
symphony by Abravanel and the Utah Symphony.
Concert in Salt Lake City
In 1964, the Utah Symphony performed Mahler’s Seventh Symphony on
November 25, the day before Thanksgiving; the concert was part of the Sixth Annual
Festival of Contemporary Music held by the University of Utah.135 In Utah newspapers,
the concerts and recording of Mahler’s Eighth from the previous year were repeatedly
mentioned. Positive record reviews from major publications, in particular Robert Marsh’s
132
Robert Samuels, “Narrative Form and Mahler’s Musical Thinking,” Nineteenth-Century Music Review
8/2 (December 2011), 237. Samuels uses Mahler’s Fifth Symphony as an example to show how redemption
works in music. The Fifth Symphony starts with C-sharp minor and reaches D major in the Finale. In other
words, D major of the Scherzo and Finale—transformed from C sharp, A, F—is the real key and the
destiny of the symphony. Progressive tonality, in particular strong in the Fifth Symphony, is “harnessed to
a symphonic narrative transformation,” described by Samuels as redemption.
The nineteenth-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881) exerted considerable influence on
twentieth-century English modern novels. Peter Kaye’s Dostoevsky and English Modernism 1900–1930
(Cambridge University Press, 1999) examines Dostoevsky’s influence on British writers, including D. H.
Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Arnold Bennett, Joseph Conrad, E. M. Foster, John Galsworthy, and Henry
James.
133
Steven Allen Gordon, “Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, Modernism, and the Crisis of Austrian Liberalism”
(Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1998).
134
Ibid., 9.
135
The concerts for the festival were usually held at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of
Utah, but this concert took place at the Mormon Tabernacle to accommodate the enlarged orchestra.
109
statement, “We have discovered a new Mahler conductor,” were quoted in concert
advertisements and news articles.136
Modern, unfamiliar elements were used in newspapers to attract ticket sales. The
unusual sound of the Seventh was portrayed by a picture of three percussionists playing
chimes and Swiss bells in the Deseret News on the concert day.137 The “forward-looking”
quality was supported by the “incongruous characteristics” of the symphony, evident in
Lundstrom’s colorful description: “broad and simple outlines,” “profound sincerity,”
“deeply impressive,” and “theatrical, bombastic, and tedious.”138 Surprisingly, according
to Lowell Durham, the concert was warmly accepted.139 Furthermore, Fitzpatrick called
Abravanel as “one of the large contributors,”140 including Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony in the Mahler revival. After the concert season was over, Fitzpatrick chose the
performances of Mahler’s Seventh and another modern work, Milhaud’s Pacem in Terris,
as the high points of orchestral concerts of the season.141
136
Quoted from Marsh, “Mahler’s Eighth—a Stereo Debut,” 50–51. Some of the articles that mentioned
the quote included “Utah Symphony Plays Mahler Wednesday,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 November 1964,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 75; “Concert Wednesday,” Logan Herald Journal, 23 November 1964;
“Utah Symphony to Perform Mahler Symphony Nov. 25,” Provo Daily Herald, 23 November 1964; and
Lowell Durham, “Performing Arts: He Gambled and Won,” s.n., 3 December 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms
517, Box 83.
137
Harold Lundstrom, “Utah Symphony Presents Mahler Concert Tonight,” Deseret News and Telegram,
25 November 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
138
Harold Lundstrom, “Exploring His Thoughts,” Deseret News, 26 November 1964, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 83.
139
Durham, “Performing Arts: He Gambled and Won.”
140
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Utah Orchestra’s in Tune With Mahler Symphony,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 26
November 1964, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 83.
141
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Luster Marks Symphony Silver Season,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 May 1965.
110
Recording Sessions
After the concert, Seymour Solomon brought his engineers to Salt Lake City to
record the symphony. During the recording sessions on December 11 and 12, the
orchestra also recorded Milhaud’s Pacem in Terris and Honegger’s Judith. When the
recording was released in 1965, long and informative liner notes by Jack Diether
accompanied the record. Besides the genesis, background, and musical descriptions of the
symphony, Diether’s notes stressed that the recording was the first one to use the new
Critical Edition. Philips, the international distributor for Abravanel’s previous Mahler
recording, was ready to distribute the recording of the Seventh.
Record Reviews
Reviews of Abravanel’s recording of Mahler’s Seventh from other states in the
United States as well as England showed the far-reaching effect of recordings. Again, this
recording was the first in stereo and considered better than the two available mono
recordings. Moreover, record reviews emphasized that the recording was the first one to
use the newly-published Critical Edition. Although many reviews expressed high
expectations for an upcoming recording by Bernstein, Abravanel’s version was
recommended as the best option at the time.
Being the first stereo version was again important for Abravanel’s recording of
the Seventh, but the description of sound in the reviews was much briefer. Without much
elaboration, Marsh stated that Abravanel’s version was “the first stereo set to reach the
stores” and that it was “a splendid two-channel version, filled with the acoustical richness
111
of what I assume to be the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.”142 Music critic Martin
Bernheimer from the Los Angeles Times stated that Abravanel provided “warm tone and
a good common-sense performance which makes all the wonted points effectively.”143
Dick Levy stated that “Vanguard’s superlative Stereolab sound stands out with dramatic
depth and realism.”144 The brief comments on the stereo sound did not mean the critics
cared less about the sound; through comparing different versions, critics endorsed the
superior sound in Abravanel’s recording.
The comparison between Abravanel’s recording and other available versions
continued to play a central role in record reviews. The two other versions, one by Hans
Rosbaud with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and one by Hermann Scherchen
with the Vienna State Opera, were both from 1953 and monaural. Sonically, Scherchen’s
is better than Rosbaud’s. Although the monaural sound in Scherchen’s recording lacks
depth, its clarity allows for a reasonable level of accuracy.145 Rosbaud’s recording not
only lacks depth but also has poor sound quality. Most instruments sound slightly
distorted.146 In comparison, the sound from the two channels in Abravanel’s stereo
recording truly simulates a three-dimensional space. The sound quality is much closer to
a live sound, and the clear sound more loyally transmits the details in Mahler’s work.
142
Robert C. Marsh, “Stereo and Hi-Fi: 2 Mahler Symphonies: Best 7th Yet and Fine 4th,” Chicago SunTimes, 30 May 1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
143
Martin Bernheimer, “Gustav Mahler: Symphonies Exhumed and Revitalized,” Los Angeles Times, 29
May 1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
144
Dick Levy, “Sharps and Flats,” Long Island Living, 28 April 1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
145
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 7, Hermann Scherchen and Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Deutsche
Grammophon, 2002, CD.
146
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 7, Hans Rosbaud and Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Archipel
Records, ARPCD0243, 2004, CD.
112
In comparing these three conductors’ interpretations, many critics held the view
that Scherchen’s was the most exciting, Rosbaud’s lacked support from the orchestra, and
Abravanel’s, while not as exciting, had the best sound. Bernard Jacobson’s words
exemplified this view:
Abravanel sometimes falls short of the intensity of accentuation to be
found in Scherchen’s good mono version on Westminster, but he keeps a far
firmer grip on the more complex passages, and he gives a clearer picture of the
work’s overall shape—though not as persuasive a one, I feel bound to add, as
Bernstein achieved in his superb Philharmonic performance last December. As for
the Vox recording by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hans Rosbaud,
I cannot understand how it ever came to be released. Rosbaud was one of the
greatest conductors it has been my privilege to hear, but the performance he
permits the orchestra to get away with in this work is an excruciating mess, and
the recording lacks any positive virtue to make up for its total lack of dynamic
contrast.147
Furthermore, Rosbaud’s interpretation is marred by choppy transitions when tempi
change. Scherchen’s reading is smoother and, as critics described, exciting; nonetheless,
Abravanel’s reading is convincing in its own right. Its far superior sound quality made it
all the more attractive. As Marsh stated, Abravanel’s was “the best we have ever had”
and it would make the Seventh “turn up on programs more often,” because the public
could better appreciate the symphony after repeated hearing.148
Abravanel’s recording of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony was not only the best
option among the available versions but also the first one using the new Critical Edition
published in 1960 by the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft.149 When Mahler’s
147
Bernard Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7,” High Fidelity 16/4 (April 1966): 100.
148
Marsh, “Stereo and Hi-Fi: 2 Mahler Symphonies: Best 7th Yet and Fine 4th.”
149
The society was founded in 1955 with Erwin Ratz as the president and Bruno Walter as the honorary
president with the complete Critical Edition as one of its missions. Reinhod Kubik, “The History of the
International Gustav Mahler Society in Vienna and the Complete Critical Edition,” in The Cambridge
Companion to Mahler, edited by Jeremy Barham (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 218–219.
113
Seventh Symphony was first published in 1909, Mahler was conducting the Metropolitan
Opera in New York and could not participate in the printing process. Therefore the first
edition contained a large number of errors—more than 800 according to Erwin Ratz.
Although the publisher Bote & Bock provided a list of errata, the faulty and incomplete
list did not fully amend the situation.150 Mahler’s habit of endlessly revising the score
even after its premiere and publication also demanded a new edition that considered the
later sources containing the composer’s revisions.
The editing process was challenging, and the first Critical Edition was not
embraced by all. Because of copyright issues and to keep the cost low, the Critical
Edition was done with the original publisher and the corrections and changes were made
on the original plates. The publisher was apathetic about printing a new edition, because
Mahler was not yet sufficiently popular. The editing project was conducted with limited
resources in many aspects. Ratz was not a trained philologist, and the workspace for the
editing project was Ratz’s apartment, around which the uncatalogued materials were
scattered. Frau Emmy Hauswirth, Ratz’s secretary, archivist, and later Vice President of
the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft since 1991, was the only person who had
“an unerring knowledge of the precise location (in drawers of commodes, and under or
on top of various pieces of furniture) of scores, photocopies or sketches that may have
been needed (more often than not, urgently) for this or that editorial project.”151
150
When Mahler was trying to publish the Seventh Symphony, he submitted the score to two publishers—
Peters and Breitkopf & Härtel—but was rejected by both. He then was going to publish it with a Leipzig
publisher Lauterbach & Kuhn, which was then purchased by the publisher Bote & Bock of Berlin and
Wiesbaden; hence the symphony ended up being published by the Berlin publisher.
151
Zoltan Roman, “A Brief History of the Complete Critical Edition,” in Gustav Mahler: Werk Und
Wirken—Neue Mahler-Forschung Aus Anlaß Des Vierzigjährigen Bestehens Der Internationalen Gustav
Mahler Gesellschaft (Vienna: Vom Pasqualatihaus, 1996), 110.
114
Moreover, Ratz’s edition was criticized for its short, four-page critical report and for his
“Ausgabe letzter Hand” approach, of which “the aim is to come as close as possible to
incorporate all changes made by the composer during his life time, whether in the
manuscript sources or in printed copies (scores or parts).”152 In a critic’s words, the new
edition was “an aural souvenir, not of a work as it was published originally, but as it was
later performed and imagined under ideal conditions by the composer.”153
The Critical Editions nonetheless showed the rising interest in Mahler research
and helped promote his music; as scholar James Zychowicz stated in his 2011 article,
“the availability of [Mahler’s] music is critical for performance and study, as supported
by the publication of the Mahler Gesamtausgabe. . .”154 Abravanel’s recording of the
Seventh, the first Mahler recording to use any Critical Edition, revealed Abravanel’s
interest in participating in the scholarly endeavor.155
This point was emphasized in many reviews. Having finished the first American
dissertation on Mahler, “Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg,” in 1945, Dika Newlin wrote a
review with academic views. She devoted an extensive space to the new Critical Edition,
discussing the large number of errors in the first edition; the multiple sources, “all of
which may have been authorized by Mahler at one time or another”; and an example of
Erwin Ratz’s editorial decision on when to use tremolo on the mandolin, which
Abravanel did not follow. She agreed with the conductor’s decisions and called it “a
152
Ibid., 111.
153
Bernheimer, “Gustav Mahler: Symphonies Exhumed and Revitalized.”
154
James Zychowicz, “Gustav Mahler’s Second Century: Achievements in Scholarship and Challenges for
Research,” Note 67/3 (2011), 466.
155
Abravanel would again be the first to use the new Critical Editions for his recordings of Mahler’s Third
and Fourth Symphonies.
115
matter of taste.”156 Overall, Newlin embraced Abravanel’s interpretation—“In following
the new score, Abravanel probably has come as close as possible to Mahler’s intentions
insofar as we can know them today.”157 Bernard Jacobson’s review in High Fidelity again
emphasized the version as “the first recording of any Mahler work to use the new Critical
Edition.” The changes made in the Critical Edition, such as tempo indication, “give
Abravanel’s version a big start over previous recordings.”158
Being the finest version and using the Critical Edition, Abravanel’s recording
carried the hope that Mahler’s Seventh would finally become popular. Robert Marsh, for
example, believed that the Seventh would benefit from a good recording more than the
large-scaled Eighth: “It is plain that such Mahler works as the Third and Eighth
symphonies will never be heard very often because of the enormous performing forces
they demand, but purely instrumental symphonies such as the Sixth and Seventh ought to
turn up on programs more often, once the public appreciates their merits. In the case of
the Seventh, some results should be forthcoming.”159 Edwin Bergamini from Sight &
Sound Marketing believed that this recording could reach beyond those who admired
Mahler; he wrote, “[i]t takes a recording such as this, and a release by Vanguard and
Ampex with illustrated notes by Jack Diether, to give an 80-minute monolith such as this
156
Dika Newlin, “The Mahler Seventh from Salt Lake City,” The American Record Guide 32/10 (June
1966), 950–951, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
157
Ibid., 951.
158
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7.”
159
Marsh, “2 Mahler Symphonies: Best 7th Yet And Fine 4th.”
116
a fighting chance with any customer who doesn’t happen to be a Mahlerian. Those
intrepid souls should be pleased with this new release, too.”160
Comments on Abravanel again emphasized his style of remaining loyal to
markings in the score. Paul Turok, a regular record reviewer for Music Journal, praised
Abravanel’s understanding of Mahler’s work as well as his refraining from indulging in
certain effects like “bombast”: “Maurice Abravanel leads a masterly-paced and well
articulated performance. Once again he proves to have the conception and technical
control to unfold Mahler’s huge structure with understanding and continuity.”161
Jacobson described Abravanel’s rendition as “conscientious and sensitive”; when
compared to Scherchen’s version, in which tempo changes are at times dramatic and
pauses too long, Abravanel’s reading is sometimes under-accented but “keeps a far firmer
grip on the more complex passages” and “gives a clearer picture of the work’s overall
shape.”162 Herman Schaden from Washington D.C. called Abravanel’s recording “a
performance that delves deeply into the Mahler mind and produces commendable
results.”163
Bernstein’s upcoming, highly-expected recording of the same work encouraged
comparison.164 Although she expected that Bernstein’s version might change the
160
Edwin S. Bergamini, “Top Tapes of the Month: Mahler: Symphony No. 7,” Sight & Sound Marketing,
n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
161
Paul Turok, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7,” Music Journal (May 1966): 81, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 25.
162
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7.”
163
Herman Schaden, “Record Reviews: Fine Works of Mahler, Bruckner,” The Sunday Star, 30 January
1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
164
In the U.S., Bernstein’s recording of Mahler’s Seventh was also released in 1966 (Abravanel’s in
February and Bernstein’s in September).
117
reception of Abravanel’s recording, Newlin recommended Abravanel’s recording in her
June 1966 review.165 Four months later, Newlin reviewed Bernstein’s recording of the
Seventh and compared it to that of Abravanel.166 She described the first movement in
Bernstein’s version as having “a thriller, more blaring sound than Abravanel’s.”167
Newlin was not completely satisfied with Bernstein’s more “hysterical” quality, in
particular in the Finale: “Bernstein really lets himself go in the Finale . . . To me, he
exaggerates the vulgarity of the movement more than is necessary; but perhaps that is the
only thing to do with it.”168 After comparing Bernstein’s and Abravanel’s readings of
Mahler, Newlin preferred Abravanel’s: “Bernstein, striving mightily to identify with
Mahler, too often finds his love for the composer unrequited by its object! Abravanel, by
not trying so hard to make Mahler’s points for him, frequently may achieve the more
convincing result.”169
The critics’ expectation of Bernstein’s recording foreshadowed the fate of
Abravanel’s Mahler recordings; as Jacobson stated, “Unluckily for Abravanel and
Vanguard, but luckily for the rest of us, Bernstein’s recording—which also uses the
Critical Edition—is no less triumphant than his concert performances last December led
us to expect.”170 As the 1960s unfolded, more and more Mahler recordings were made,
165
Newlin, “The Mahler Seventh from Salt Lake City,” 951.
166
Dika Newlin, “Again, Mahler Symphonies by Leinsdorf and Bernstein,” American Record Guide 33/2
(October 1966): 114–116, 120, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
167
Ibid., 116.
168
Ibid., 116, 120.
169
Ibid., 120.
170
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7.”
118
Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s later Mahler recordings hence faced more
competition and drew less attention than the first two recordings.
In American reviews, the comments on the orchestra’s performance were brief.
Newlin considered the recording as a proof that “a ‘Vienna’ label is not a sine qua non
for an idiomatic interpretation of Mahler” anymore.171 Jacobson’s comment on the
orchestra was one of the longer ones: “The orchestra playing is better, the control in
complex passages firmer, and the observance of the score’s detailed nuances more
conscientious and searching.”172 Although only providing brief comments, most reviews
affirmed the orchestra’s performance. The brief comments suggested that the Utah
Symphony’s previous recording of the Eighth had made the orchestra better known.
At the time the Utah recording was released in England, Abravanel was less
known than Bernstein. Bernstein had recorded Mahler’s Eighth with the London
Symphony Orchestra in April 1966, whereas the Utah Symphony’s first international tour
would start in New York in September 1966 and end in England a month later.
Bernstein’s recording of Mahler’s Seventh was released before Abravanel’s, as suggested
by record reviews; hence British reviews unanimously measured Abravanel’s recording
against Bernstein’s.
In his detailed review of Abravanel’s recording, Deryck Cooke used two spots—
m. 80 in the first movement and mm. 78 and 80 in the Scherzo movement—to
demonstrate that the maestro’s reading tended to be “under-characterized” and that
Bernstein’s more dramatic reading more aptly portrayed Mahler’s world. In the first
171
Newlin, “The Mahler Seventh from Salt Lake City,” 951.
172
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7.”
119
movement, m. 80 opens the second subject, which “recalls its counterpart in the Sixth,
but its sentimentality is more languishing.”173 Concerning the entrance to this section,
Cooke wrote,
A characteristic example is the entry of the second main idea in the
Allegro of the first movement (bar 80): Bernstein holds back a little here, to give
the theme all the weight it so obviously requires, and thus emphasize the contrast
between its jerky motion and the fierce drive of the first theme. Abravanel
continues in tempo, in the absence of any indication by Mahler to the contrary,
and both the weight and the contrast seem rather under-characterized; this
tremendous movement can seem largely one long indiscriminate outpouring of the
same kind of thing, unless its oppositions are clearly underlined. Nevertheless, in
the outcome, Abravanel builds up the structure of the movement as impressively
as Bernstein, and he is equally successful with the other four.174
Abravanel’s and Bernstein’s different handling of the section starts from the four
measures, mm. 76–79, leading into m. 80 (see Table 4.3 for tempo comparison).
Bernstein slows down to 108 bpm upon entering m. 76 and continues to slow down to 90
bpm in m. 79. The tempo of Bernstein’s entrance into m. 80 is even slower, around 80
bpm. His tempo picks up to around 90 bpm from m. 83 to the end of rehearsal 11 (m. 95).
On the other hand, Abravanel maintains the tempo in mm. 76–79 and waits till m. 80 to
slow down only so slightly to 100–110 bpm. This tempo remains steady until rehearsal
11, when the tempo decreases to around 100 bpm.
Table 4.3: Tempo comparison, mm. 50–95 of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, first
movement
Rehearsal #
6–9
10
173
Measure #
50–75
76–79
Abravanel (1964)
110–120 bpm
110–120 bpm
Bernstein (1965)
100–110 bpm
108 down to 90
bpm
Cooke, Gustav Mahler: An Introduction to His Music, 90.
174
Deryck Cooke, “Mahler. Symphony No. 7,” The Gramophone, July 1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 25.
120
Table 4.3. Continued
11
80–82
83–87
88–95
100–110 bpm
100–110 bpm
~100 bpm
~80 bpm
~90 bpm
~90 bpm
Hence Bernstein clearly signals the upcoming new section at m. 76; in contrast,
Abravanel subtly presents the entrance of a new section. The score in fact does not
indicate any tempo changes. The marking “diminuendo” in mm. 77–79 is the only
indication of a structural change. The effect of the diminuendo is more obvious in
Abravanel’s version than in Bernstein’s. With the clear diminuendo, Abravanel follows
Mahler’s instructions and succeeds in gesturing the arrival of the next section; Bernstein
signals the structural change by inserting his own tempo changes rather than the dynamic
change instructed by the composer.
It is interesting that Cooke described Bernstein as holding back “a little” to “give
the theme all the weight it so obviously requires.” Bernstein’s holding back is arguably
more than a little. On the other hand, Abravanel was described by Cooke as “undercharacterized,” which might be true when his interpretation was compared to dramatic
versions like Bernstein’s; without a predisposed way of interpreting the work,
Abravanel’s version seems the right interpretation. Cooke’s comment that “Abravanel
continues in tempo, in the absence of any indication by Mahler to the contrary” was also
curious, as if the absence of any sign to remain at constant speed was an invitation to
change the tempo. Bernstein’s version seemingly swayed the standard toward a more
dramatic extreme, making alternative interpretations seem dispassionate in comparison.
Cooke also emphasized the different handling of four chords by trombones—two
chords from the upbeat of m. 79 to the downbeat of m. 80 and two chords from the
121
upbeat of m. 81 to the downbeat of m. 82 in the trombones—immediately following the
entrance at m. 80. Cooke stated, “Bernstein achieves the necessary weight, not only by
holding back, but by emphasizing the stabbing trombone chords on the up-beats; with
Abravanel, one is hardly aware that the trombones are playing.”175 Indeed, the chords are
much more present in Bernstein’s version than in Abravanel’s. On the one hand, without
indicating the need for such emphases, the score justifies Abravanel’s interpretation. The
upbeat chords are marked forte, but the notes played by strings are marked fortissimo and
therefore would naturally overpower the trombones. The downbeat chords are marked
piano, and the violin’s whole notes for those two measures (m. 80 and m. 82) are marked
as fp; again the trombones could rightfully be overpowered. On the other hand, these
chords make up an important part of the theme to contrast with the part of the strings.
Thus Abravanel’s version follows closely Mahler’s instructions, but Bernstein’s better
presents the rich character of the theme.
Cooke also pointed out “the explosive sforzando notes for solo tuba in the
Scherzo, which are electrifying with Bernstein, but pass by almost unnoticed with
Abravanel.”176 More specifically, the sforzando notes appear in m. 78 and m. 80 of the
Scherzo movement. Although these notes go by quickly, they hint at the distorted waltz,
which “anticipates the scherzo of the Ninth.”177 The two eighth notes starting on beat two
are marked with sfp below them and a staccato mark above them; thus Cooke was not
entirely correct—the two notes should be played as a sforzando and then immediately
175
Cooke, “Mahler. Symphony No. 7.”
176
Ibid.
177
Cooke only mentioned the “savagely distorted ‘popular’ waltz tune” is “sneered out viciously by
fortissimo trombones.” These two notes by the tuba seem to function similarly. Cooke, Gustav Mahler: An
Introduction to His Music, 90.
122
became piano. As Cooke described, these two notes are strongly emphasized in
Bernstein’s version. The notes, however, sound more like they are marked with an accent
mark rather than staccato, and their dynamics do not become piano, as the dynamic mark
sfp indicates. In Abravanel’s version, the notes sound as they are marked with the
articulation mark tenuto rather than staccato; the sforzando is indeed not clearly
presented, and therefore the effect of going from sf to piano is not apparent. In sum, both
readings are problematic. Bernstein’s overpowering solo tuba disrupts the flow, and
Abravanel’s under-powering notes lack energy.
Although Cooke commended Abravanel’s recording as “greatly superior” to his
recording of the Eighth and even “a considerable rival to Bernstein’s,” he preferred
Bernstein’s more involved style of interpretation to Abravanel’s “under-characterized”
reading. After all, “we should remember that Mahler himself was essentially a rubato
conductor.” Cooke praised Abravanel’s “impressive” handling of the structure of all five
movements but considered him as lacking “Bernstein’s brilliant insight into Mahler’s
uniquely fantastic world of sound in this particular work.” Nonetheless, Cooke found it
surprising that the Utah Symphony could “sustain the comparison” with the New York
Philharmonic.178
When Peter Gammond, a former music editor for Decca between 1952 and 1960,
reviewed Abravanel’s recording of the Seventh for Audio Record Review, he had just
listened to Bernstein’s “exciting, rich, full-blooded, if at times slightly wayward
performance of Mahler’s 7th.” Gammond was “pleasantly surprised . . . to find
[Abravanel’s version] a very satisfying set.” Similar to Newlin’s comparison of
178
Cooke, “Mahler. Symphony No. 7.”
123
Bernstein’s and Abravanel’s interpretations of Mahler, Gammond’s view was that
Bernstein was “inclined to exhaust one with his emotional manipulations,” while
“Abravanel’s performance is much steadier, on a more even keel.” According to
Gammond, although not as good as Bernstein’s recording of the Seventh, Abravanel’s
reading had “surpassed his own previous Mahler achievements” and contributed to
“clarity and understanding.” Gammond’s final recommendation was “there is no need to
buy this Philips issue with any reluctance.”179 Similarly, musicologist and Mahler scholar
Anthony Beaumont had heard Bernstein’s Mahler Seventh, this time a live performance
in April 1966 in the Royal Festival Hall in London. Beaumont was also pleasantly
surprised by the Utah recording—“One could hardly ask for better playing than this.”
Despite the “patches of ragged string playing,” he called Abravanel’s version “[a]ll in all,
a most worthwhile pair of records.”180 These comments by critics overseas not only
compared Abravanel to Bernstein but also set the Utah Symphony and the New York
Philharmonic side by side. Although the close release dates may have reduced the sales
of the Utah recording, the constant comparison emphasized that the Utah musicians
measured up to the internationally known group in New York.
While out-of-state and oversea reviews focused on a variety of musical and
technical aspects, reviews from Utah emphasized the recording’s significance for Mahler
reception. Fitzpatrick stated that the recording would “add to [Abravanel and the Utah
Symphony’s] growing reputation as interpreters of this lately recognized master.”181
179
Peter Gammond, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7 in E minor,” Audio Record Review, n.d., Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 25.
180
Anthony Beaumont, “Classical: Mahler. Symphony No. 7,” s.n., n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box
25.
181
Fitzpatrick, “Utah Orchestra’s in Tune With Mahler Symphony.”
124
Lundstrom, on the other hand, did not believe that the recording could “alter the 58-year
history of the ‘Seventh’,”182 since the recordings by Scherchen and Rosbaud had not
made the symphony popular. Nonetheless, even if the orchestra’s endeavors could not
popularize Mahler’s works, it was an achievement in itself that the orchestra was part of
the revival and could prove its growth through performing and recording Mahler’s works.
As when the recording of the Eighth was released and reviewed, Utah newspapers
quoted many of the reviews from outside Utah. The constant comparison between
Abravanel and Bernstein as well as the Utah Symphony and the New York Philharmonic
proved the Utah musicians’ worth and appealed to local critics. In Lundstrom’s article
titled “Sustains Comparison Very Well,” he used Cooke’s review in Gramophone to
show that the Utah Symphony could sustain comparison to the New York
Philharmonic.183 Fitzpatrick quoted Edward Greenfield’s review in the Manchester
Guardian, which compared Abravanel’s recording of Mahler’s Seventh to Bernstein’s.
Fitzpatrick stressed Greenfield’s view that the Utah Symphony was “less glamorous” but
“a first rate ensemble; musically knowledgeable, and have a distinctive and appealing
style of their own.”184 Outside reviews thus helped establish the Utah Symphony’s
standing in and outside Utah.
The reception of Abravanel’s recording of Mahler’s Seventh was similar to that of
the Eighth in that critics celebrated the first stereo recording of the work as well as the
efforts and achievements of a less-prestigious orchestra. Additionally, Abravanel’s use of
182
Lundstrom, “Exploring His Thoughts.”
183
Harold Lundstrom, “‘Sustains Comparison Very Well,” Deseret News and Telegram, n.d., Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
184
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Recording Boom: Utah Symphony Boosts Mahler Renaissance,” The Salt Lake
Tribune, 15 January 1967.
125
the new Critical Edition was recognized in almost all reviews from outside Utah and
overseas, highlighting the conductor’s awareness of the advances in Mahler scholarship.
Although Bernstein’s recording was released first in England, Abravanel’s version was
recommended because his reading offered a competitive alternative to Bernstein’s.
Abravanel, Bernstein, and Mahler
The comparison between Abravanel and Bernstein and many critics’ preference
for Bernstein’s interpretation suggested an emerging “mainstream” modeled after
Bernstein, the most acclaimed Mahler champion of the 1960s. His celebrated status and
directorship at the prestigious New York Philharmonic further legitimated his intense
view on Mahler. In the Young People’s Concert about Mahler, “Who Is Gustav Mahler?”
as well as in his 1967 article in High Fidelity, Bernstein stressed the conflict embodied in
the dualistic roles of Mahler: “Mahler the Creator vs. Mahler the Performer; the Jew vs.
the Christian; the Believer vs. the Doubter; the Naïf vs. the Sophisticate; the provincial
Bohemian vs. the Viennese homme du monde; the Faustian Philosopher vs. the Oriental
Mystic; the Operatic Symphonist who never wrote an opera.”185 The duality in Mahler,
according to Bernstein, also included his identity of being both a nineteenth-century and a
twentieth-century composer. As a nineteenth-century composer, “[Mahler] took all (all!)
the basic elements of German music, including the clichés, and drove them to their
ultimate limits.”186 As a twentieth-century composer, Mahler experimented with form,
texture, and orchestration, but “they all emanated from those nineteenth-century notes he
185
Leonard Bernstein, “Mahler: His Time Has Come,” High Fidelity 17/9 (September 1967), 51–52.
186
Ibid., 53.
126
loved so well.”187 For Bernstein, this duality came to symbolize the conflict in the
modern society; Mahler’s music, in Bernstein’s words, foretold the tragedies in the
twentieth century, and, only after these tragic events, could listeners understand the
composer’s music.188 With Bernstein’s charming presence and overt enthusiasm, the
lecture attracted the public to Mahler; furthermore, the new medium—television—helped
Bernstein make great strides in his own career.189
Bernstein’s description of Mahler’s extreme and conflicting music explained his
oftentimes emotional and flamboyant interpretation of Mahler. Bernstein constantly
exaggerated tempo and dynamic changes to emphasize instability, a key ingredient for
the post-Cold War America. As David Paul explains in his dissertation, “Mahler was
celebrated for giving musical embodiment to the tensions, contradictions, and conflicts of
life—those things that totalitarian regimes sought to resolve through the forceful
imposition of ideology.”190 Bernstein’s intense interpretation of Mahler can also be
explained by his deep identification with the composer; Bernstein performed Mahler’s
187
Ibid., 54.
188
Ibid., 52. As musicologist Matthew Mugmon explains in his dissertation that Bernstein related Mahler
to tonal modernism in order to distance Mahler’s music from serial music. Mahler was therefore not simply
the beginning of modernism but instead modernism that was deeply rooted in the past. Matthew Steven
Mugmon, “The American Mahler: Musical Modernism and Transatlantic Networks, 1920–1960” (Ph.D.
diss., Harvard University, 2013), 199–241.
189
For more details about the Young People’s Concerts, see John Christian MacInnis, “Leonard
Bernstein’s and Roger Englander’s Educational Mission: Music Appreciation and the 1961–62 Season of
Young People’s Concerts” (Master’s thesis, Florida State University, 2009).
190
David Christopher Paul, “Converging Paths to the Canon: Charles Ives, Gustav Mahler, and American
Culture” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2006), Abstract 2.
127
music as if it were his own: “But when I perform Mahler I feel as if I have written the
music. ‘What a brilliant key change I made here’, I tell myself.”191
Not everyone embraced Bernstein’s identifying with Mahler. Jay Gottlieb
remembered his conversation with Nadia Boulanger about Bernstein;192 he said, “I can
tell you what those conversations sounded like: NB telling LB that he should calm down
and stop claiming to be the reincarnation of Mahler!’”193 Nonetheless, by relating the
conflict-ridden aspect of Mahler’s music to the disquiet in modern society, Bernstein
turned Mahler into a prophet; and by firmly placing himself into Mahler’s music,
Bernstein himself became a prophet, at least of Mahler. The tension in Mahler’s music,
emphasized in Bernstein’s versions, was embraced perhaps because it fittingly delineated
American society from totalitarian governments and comforted American audiences, as
suggested in David Paul’s dissertation.194
While Bernstein emphasized the suffering, polarized Mahler, Abravanel focused
more closely on observing the composer’s meticulous performance directions.
Consciously or not, Abravanel avoided exaggeration when he talked about or conducted
Mahler’s works. Abravanel’s reading was frequently called “under-accented,” especially
in comparison to that of Bernstein. In short, Abravanel did not try to mythologize Mahler
191
Records and Recording, June, 1966, quoted in Page, “Leonard Bernstein and the Resurrection of Gustav
Mahler,” 294.
192
Gottlieb started his association with Bernstein in 1958 and published the book Working with Bernstein:
a memoir (New York: Amadeus Press) in 2010.
193
Email correspondence between Gottlieb and Mugmon, June 29, 2009, quoted in Mugmon, “The
American Mahler: Musical Modernism and Transatlantic Networks, 1920–1960,” 244.
194
David Christopher Paul, “Converging Paths to the Canon: Charles Ives, Gustav Mahler, and American
Culture” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2006).
128
or his music; instead, he emphasized the importance of relating Mahler’s music to
contemporary life and the contemporary audience.
In 1966 and 1978, Abravanel revealed his view on Mahler when interviewed by
local critics. In March 1966, just before an all-Mahler concert, Jim Fitzpatrick discussed
Abravanel’s view of Mahler; Fitzpatrick’s article boldly opened with “Gustav Mahler is
just the right composer for our time and place.” Abravanel explained why Mahler was
relevant to the current time: “Up until a few years ago, we were too busy with the
necessities of life, enough to eat, a roof over our heads and enough clothing, to worry
about such profound questions as ‘Why am I on earth?’ . . . But now, not having to worry
about the necessities, we worry about more important things.”195 Abravanel was not
specific about why the time was now stable; compared to the first half of the twentieth
century, which included two world wars and the Great Depression, the 1960s was indeed
much more prosperous, especially with the blooming technological advances. In Salt
Lake City, various sorts of infrastructure construction such as “improvement in the water
system” and “development of recreation facilities” were carried out, increasing the city’s
budget from $3.4 million in 1940 to $14.5 million in 1961.196 One of the “more important
things,” according to Abravanel, was Mahler’s music. “It is the message, not just the
notes. It is his ‘yearning,’ his seeking after God that makes him so appealing.” Abravanel
set Mahler apart from Bruckner, “a man of simple faith,” and Schonberg, “essentially a
195
Abravanel’s words quoted in Jim Fitzpatrick, “Many-Faceted Composer: Mahler Message Vital,
Maestro Says,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 March 1966, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
196
Thomas G. Alexander and James B. Allen, Mormons & Gentiles: A History of Salt Lake City (Boulder,
Colorado: Pruett, 1984), 259.
129
Romantic,” and called Mahler “a modern man, tortured and neurotic.”197 Therefore,
Abravanel believed that, to the modern audience, Mahler’s music was relevant and his
“message vital.”198
Prior to the 1978 concert of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, an extended interview in
The Salt Lake Tribune with Abravanel offered another rare opportunity to understand the
maestro’s thoughts on Mahler. As Paul Wetzel quoted Abravanel, “the greatness of
Mahler Eighth is really not because of its numbers. It is because of its message, of the
directness of the musical language, and the greatness of both the text of the old Latin
hymn and of Goethe’s ‘Faust’ lines.” To Abravanel, the communicating capability of a
work could “hit you like a wave,” one way to evaluate the power of music.199
Although Abravanel was also Jewish, he did not attempt to identify with the
composer. Unlike Bernstein, an involved Mahler interpreter, Abravanel’s role as a
conductor was an observer, who should carefully follow the directions in the score, and a
medium, through which music could flow as naturally as possible. Abravanel once talked
about Bernstein’s Mahler: “I loved Lennie, but sometimes, I felt, he tried to make Mahler
too different, too neurotic.”200 This statement suggested that Abravanel perhaps
consciously avoided Bernstein’s way of interpreting Mahler. Abravanel’s method of
conducting Mahler was less controlling, as he explained: “I tried to let the music speak . . .
I did not try to make Mahler more Mahler. Mahler didn’t try to be different—he was
197
Abravanel’s words quoted in Fitzpatrick, “Many-Faceted Composer: Mahler Message Vital, Maestro
Says.”
198
Fitzpatrick, “Many-Faceted Composer: Mahler Message Vital, Maestro Says.”
199
Paul Wetzel, “‘Musical message is greatness of Mahler Eight,’” The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 April 1978,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 124.
200
Abravanel’s own words quoted in Gerald Gold, “Maurice Abravanel—an emotional response to the
symphonies,” The New York Times, 9 June 1991.
130
different. But he was also part of the Austrian musical heritage. So, when I conducted
Mahler, I didn’t try to perform his music as a music of extremes.”201 These words
indicated that Abravanel’s interpretation of Mahler’s music was the result of his
deliberate choice instead of incapability. Unfortunately, his reading was often faulted as
lacking, especially in stark contrast to Bernstein’s style.
As a conductor and music educator, Abravanel was both practical and idealistic;
he cared about practicalities such as funding for the arts as much as the positive effect of
“good” music.202 By programming and recording Mahler’s music, Abravanel perhaps
hoped to combine his ideal and practical sides, sending “vital” messages in “good” music
that could communicate. These beliefs of Abravanel’s informed his interpretation of
Mahler and influenced the reception of Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s Mahler
recordings. While most critics embraced Bernstein’s “sublime” interpretation,
201
Ibid.
202
“He [Abravanel] is convinced that good music builds character and encourages mature behavior.”
(“Maurice Abravanel . . . Musical Director and Conductor,” 1974, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 26.)
Abravanel believed that good music was beneficial for people, and the audience deserved to hear the best
music even if they were inexperienced listeners. Abravanel’s definition of “good music” covered a broad
range of works; on one occasion, he used Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and Copland as the examples
of good music. Maurice Abravanel, interview with Jay M. Haymond, 30 September 1981, Utah State
Historical Society Oral History Program, 56, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 4.
His efforts in securing funding for the arts were evident in his involvement in the National
Endowment for the Arts in 1970, when he was appointed by President Nixon as a member of the first
Advisory Music Panel. The term was six years. In 1972 President Nixon was quoted to have praised
Abravanel’s contribution in music—“I have been especially impressed by your determined efforts to take
the best of symphonic music to rural areas, including Indian reservations, and to enhance not only adult
appreciation of good music but that of young people in our colleges and universities.”—and service at the
National Endowment for the Arts. Nixon stated, “You have earned the thanks not only of your fellow
Utahns, but of all Americans, and on their behalf I wish you the very best in all your future endeavors.”
(“Nixon Praises Abravanel’s Service,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 April 1972, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 77.) In March 1982, Abravanel and other orchestra representatives, including John Williams, Gerard
Schwarz, Ani Kavafian, and James Buswell spoke on Capitol Hall to “protest the proposed 50 percent cut
in the 1982 budget of the National Endowment for the Arts.” “Artists Testify on Capitol Hill,” Symphony
Magazine (June/July 1981), 101, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 79.
131
Abravanel’s reading was an alternative less influenced by the conductor’s agenda and
identification.
Awards and Letters
Abravanel’s first two Mahler recordings won him and the orchestra more than
recognition in reviews. At the suggestion from Jack Diether and Dika Newlin, the
Bruckner Society of America decided to award the 1965 Mahler Medal to Abravanel.203
The medal was given mainly for the recording of the Eighth, but that of the Seventh,
released in 1965, helped consolidate the decision; Diether explained that “if any of the
directors had any qualms about awarding it to you at that time on the basis of a single
recording, even of such a colossal undertaking as the Eighth Symphony, I am sure they
will be reassured by this marvelous achievement of the Seventh.”204 Abravanel wanted to
accept the medal on the campus of the University of Utah. Kenneth E. Eble, head of the
English Department and brother of Charles Eble (president of the Bruckner Society),
handed the Kilenyi Mahler Medal to Abravanel on behalf of the society at a special
convocation on October 5, 1965, held by the College of Fine Arts.205
Before the ceremony, Utah newspapers explained the purpose of the Bruckner
Society and described the award. Many of them quoted a description about the medal—
203
Jack Diether to Maurice Abravanel, 1 September 1965, letter, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 14.
Chord and Discord listed the receivers of the Bruckner Medal and Mahler Medal, but the
publication was suspended between 1963 and 1969. Abravanel’s name was listed in the 1969 issue: Chord
and Discord 3/1 (1969), 126.
204
Jack Diether to Maurice Abravanel, 1 September 1965.
205
Both the Bruckner and Mahler Medals were named after their designer, Julio Kilenyi.
132
awarded annually to conductors who “accomplished most during the preceding musical
season toward furthering the general appreciation of Gustav Mahler’s arts in the United
States.”206 Previous recipients were also listed in the newspapers, including Otto
Klemperer, Serge Koussevitzky, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Eugene Ormandy, Fritz Reiner,
Artur Rodzinski, and Bruno Walter, equating Abravanel with other Mahler champions.207
The press coverage of the award accentuated the community’s pride in the achievements
of Abravanel and the Utah Symphony, now made official by the recognition from Vienna
and the Mahler Medal.
While the medal recognized Abravanel’s efforts in championing Mahler, the
ceremony highlighted the relationship between the maestro and the community. As Neal
A. Maxwell, vice president for Student and Public Affairs for the university opened the
convocation he emphasized how Abravanel had “given himself so fully and with finality”
to the community.208 In the acceptance speech, Abravanel included the community in the
honor: “This is the culmination of 18 years of effort by many, many people. Salt Lake
City and Utah have given me a sense of belonging. I am a Utahn.”209 Abravanel extended
the honor to not only the orchestra musicians but also the University of Utah choruses,
the Salt Lake City schools chorus, and their directors Newell Weight and Vernon Lee
206
This description could be found in many Chord and Discord issues, as early as the issue from December
1935 (Vol. 1, No. 7). One of the newspapers articles quoted this description was “Symphony Conductor
Wins Award,” The Daily Utah Chronicle, 1 October 1965, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
207
Two of the news articles that listed the names were “Symphony Conductor Wins Award,” The Daily
Utah Chronicle, 1 October 1965, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76; and “Honors to Abravanel: Utah
Symphony Leader To Gain Mahler Medal,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 October 1965, Abravanel Papers, Ms
517, Box 76.
208
Neal A. Maxwell, “Excerpts from comments by Neal A. Maxwell,” October 1965, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 3.
209
Abravanel, “Convocation for Maestro Maurice Abravanel Mahler Award.”
133
Master.210 Abravanel thanked Lowell Durham and Conrad Harrison for focusing on
musical details in their feedback on the orchestra’s playing, because details were his
“chief weakness” and “grand lines” his preference.211 Although Abravanel was the only
recipient, he included Utah musicians, directors, and critics in this honor and celebrated
his close collaboration with the community.
Besides the Mahler Medal, Abravanel’s first two Mahler recordings brought him
an honorary membership for the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft in Vienna. In
a letter dated March 24, 1966 and addressed to Vanguard, Erwin Ratz—the president of
the society and the editor for the Critical Edition of the Seventh—expressed gratitude for
Abravanel’s recordings of Mahler’s Eighth and Seventh symphonies.212 The recording of
the Seventh was in particular emphasized:
Besonders hervorragend ist die 7.Symphonie, die zu den besten Platten
gehört, die es bisher von Gustav Mahler gibt. Ihr Verdienst ist umso größer, als es
bisher keine in Betracht kommende Aufnahme dieses Werkes gibt, das nicht nur
zu Mahlers bedeutendsten Werken gehört, sondern der gesamten symphonischen
Literatur.213
Especially the recording of the 7th Symphony is superb. It is one of the
best recordings of Gustav Mahler works ever made. You deserve all the more
credit, since to date no acceptable recording has been made of this work which is
not only one of the most significant of Mahler’s compositions but also of all
symphonic literature.214
210
Ibid.
211
Ibid.
212
Erwin Ratz to Vanguard, 24 March 1966, letter, Abravanel Papers. Ms 517, Box 14.
213
Ibid.
214
Erwin Ratz to Vanguard, 24 March 1966, letter, translator unknown, Abravanel Papers. Ms 517, Box 14.
134
Ratz probably did not know Abravanel personally, since in the same letter he asked for
the conductor’s biographical information for the society’s files and Abravanel’s address
because “Wir möchten auch ihm gern danken und ihn bitten, die Ehrenmitgliedschaft der
INTERNATIONALEN GUSTAV MAHLER GESELLSCHAFT anzunehmen”215 (“We
should also like to express our gratitude to him and ask him to accept an honorary
membership in the International Gustav Mahler Society.”)216
In the following month, a letter from Ratz to Abravanel expressed similar praise
and gratitude for the two recordings. The main purpose of the letter was to offer
Abravanel the honorary membership of the International Gustav Mahler Society.217 In the
letter, Ratz also asked Abravanel to bid his gratitude to the orchestra, choruses, and
soloists. Moreover, Ratz complimented the “beauty and sensitivity” in Abravanel’s
interpretation of the middle movements of the Seventh Symphony and emphasized this
was a rare accomplishment for a “non-Austrian”: “Die Schönheit und Einfühlung, mit der
Sie gerade die Mittelsätze der 7.Symphonie gespielt haben, die ja für einen
Nichtösterreicher kaum nachzuempfinden sind, haben uns sehr ergriffen.” (“The beauty
and sensitivity, with which you have conducted the middle movements of the Seventh
Symphony, were rarely recreated by a non-Austrian and moved us very much.”)218
215
Ratz to Vanguard, 24 March 1966, letter.
216
Ratz to Vanguard, 24 March 1966, letter, translator unknown.
217
Erwin Ratz, Erwin Ratz to Maurice Abravanel, 14 April 1966, letter, Abravanel Papers. Ms 517, Box 14.
218
Ibid. (My own translation)
135
Conclusion
Between 1951 and 1965, Abravanel and the Utah Symphony presented Mahler’s
works at eight concerts and recorded two of Mahler’s relatively under-performed
symphonies. The recording of the Eighth was possible because of Abravanel’s passion in
Mahler, the Utah community’s choral resources, and Vanguard’s engineering capabilities,
whereas that of the Seventh offered the first recording of any Critical Edition with
superior sound. Both recordings brought outside recognition to the conductor and the
orchestra, as shown in newspapers, magazines, the Mahler Medal from the Bruckner
Society of America, and congratulatory letters from Erwin Ratz. As the Utah Symphony
became known to the outside world, Abravanel’s name became associated with Mahler.
The recognition from the outside and Mahler concerts in Utah in turn planted the
composer’s name in the community. The overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception
encouraged Abravanel and the Utah Symphony to continue their Mahler journey and
resulted in four more recordings of Mahler’s symphonies in the 1960s, completing the
Mahler cycle in the 1970s, and giving many more performances of Mahler’s works in the
next fifteen years.
136
CHAPTER 5. MAHLER IN UTAH, 1965–1979
“I’m ready to make a deal with Maestro Maurice Abravanel of the Utah
Symphony. I’ll vote in favor of the new arts center in the upcoming bond issue — if
Maurice promises not to play more than 10 Mahler selections during the 1976 season.”
— Dan Valentine, author of The Salt Lake Tribune column
“Nothing Serious,” 14 November 1975
In this humorous column of random comments on community events, Dan Valentine
joked about Abravanel’s programming of Mahler. The columnist’s casual mentioning of
Mahler revealed the composer’s familiarity to Salt Lake City readers by 1975. Between
1963 and 1974, the Utah Symphony recorded all of Mahler’s symphonies and, to prepare
for the recordings, performed all but the Third and Sixth Symphonies. By 1974, the Utah
community was well-acquainted with the composer’s music.
Although the Utah Symphony’s recordings of Mahler’s Seventh and Eighth
Symphonies garnered wide acclaim in the mid-1960s, their next four Mahler recordings
in the second half of the decade did not generate the same level of excitement in the
national and international print media. Nevertheless, these recordings provided insight
into the Salt Lake community, technological history, and the orchestra’s growth. The
area’s long choral tradition produced many local choruses and made choral works
especially appealing to the local audience. Local singers, including Netania Davrath and
JoAnn Ottley, turned up in multiple programs, and famed vocalists, such as Beverly Sills
and Maureen Forrester, joined forces with the Utah Symphony. Just as Abravanel’s
recordings of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies had demonstrated the virtues of stereo
recording, those of the Third and Ninth allowed Vanguard to show off their technological
expertise, in this case, four-track sound. Furthermore, concert and record reviews shed
137
light on the orchestra’s growing fame, resulted from their Mahler recordings and
domestic and international tours.
Abravanel’s last decade with the Utah Symphony saw the completion of their
Mahler recording cycle in 1974. The last group of recordings were all instrumental: the
First, Fifth, and Sixth Symphonies and the Adagio of the Tenth. Although these
recordings completed the cycle, they did not garner as much publicity as the first two
recordings. The lackluster reception indicated the saturated market; by 1974, four other
cycles—by Bernstein, Haitink, Kubelik, and Solti—were available. Nevertheless, the
Utah Symphony’s cycle closed the first full Mahler tour for the community, planted
Mahler’s music in Utah, and reached a milestone for the orchestra.
After the cycle was completed, Mahler continued to be a key part of Abravanel’s
relationship with the orchestra until his retirement. The conductor planned to perform all
of Mahler’s works in the two seasons between 1976 and 1978. His health problems and
heart surgery disrupted the plan, but he still conducted most of the works in subscription
concerts and on tour in his last four seasons. The overall reaction to these performances
was different than to the previous ones; critics reminisced about past performances and
compared them to the recent ones, newspapers noted the conductor’s reputation as a
Mahler conductor, and the maestro gained confidence in the orchestra’s ability to perform
and the audience’s capacity to appreciate Mahler’s music. In short, Abravanel and the
Utah Symphony’s Mahler recordings and performances between 1965 and 1979
demonstrated how the conductor’s Mahler project paralleled the orchestra’s growth and
turned Mahler into a composer that meant much to the community.
138
1965–1969: Recording Mahler’s Second, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Symphonies
As the Utah Symphony continued performing and recording Mahler’s music in
the 1960s, works with vocalists were the focus, including the Second, Third, Fourth
Symphonies and Das Lied von der Erde (see Table 5.1). By the end of the decade, the
Utah Symphony had recorded all of the symphonies featuring vocal parts. Meanwhile, the
orchestra became better known throughout the country because of its recordings and tours.
These recordings might not have attracted as much publicity as the previous two, but they
documented the orchestra’s growing reputation and Mahler’s gaining attraction in Utah.
Table 5.1: Performances and Recording Sessions of Mahler’s Music in Utah, 1966–1969
Date
March 26, 1966
(concert)
March 27, 29, 1967
(concert)
November 29, 30,
1967
(concert)
March 30, 1967
(recording)
March 29, 31, 1968
(concert)
Mahler works
Second Symphony
(Vocalists: Blanche Christensen,
soprano; Bettie Kimery, alto; Civic
Choral, directed by Newell B.
Weight)
Adagietto of the Fifth Symphony
Second Symphony
(Vocalists: Beverly Sills, soprano;
Florence Kopleff, contralto;
University Civic Chorale, directed
by Newell Weight)
Das Lied von der Erde
(Soloists: Maureen Forrester,
contralto; William Cochran, tenor)
Second Symphony
(Vocalists: Beverly Sills, soprano;
Florence Kopleff, contralto;
University Civic Chorale, directed
by Newell B. Weight)
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: Netania Davrath,
soprano)
139
Other works
Vaughn Williams’s
Fantasia on Greensleeves
Schoenberg’s
“Transfigured Night”
Wagner’s “Good Friday
Spell” from Parsifal
Mozart’s Symphonie
Concertante for Violin,
Viola, and Orchestra
Table 5.1. Continued.
June 21, 23, 24, 25,
1968
(West Coast tour)
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: Jean Preston, soprano)
June 22, 1968
(West Coast tour,
Hollywood Bowl)
Second Symphony
(Vocalists: Jean Preston, soprano;
Lili Chookasian, contralto;
Southern California Mormon
Choir)
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: Netania Davrath,
soprano)
Ninth Symphony
The end of 1968
(recording)
March 9, 1969
(concert)
May, 1969
(recording)
Third Symphony
(Vocalists: Christina Krooskos,
alto; Women’s Choir from the
University of Utah; Boys Choir
from Granite School District)
Ninth Symphony
Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto
No. 3
Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe
Suite No. 2
Ned Rorem’s Lions
Berlioz’s Requiem
Recording Mahler’s Second Symphony (1967)
Before recording the Second Symphony, Abravanel conducted the work twice in
concert. Concert reviews demonstrated the conductor’s closeness to the music and the
community’s familiarity with the composer. The 1966 concert was “enthusiastically
welcomed by his [Abravanel’s] Tabernacle listeners.” Jim Fitzpatrick called Abravanel’s
reading “luminous” and described Mahler’s musical world as “vast, strident and
tormented” as well as “informed with tenderness and sudden visions of light which reveal
a complexity of mind very close to the center of 20th Century thought.” Mahler,
according to Fitzpatrick, was “rather like Proust leading us into an immense world which
is not of our making but which is, nevertheless, an absolute statement of the human
140
condition.”1 In the following season, Mahler’s Second was chosen for the season finale.
The concert was “an unqualified triumph”2 and brought the season to “a standing-ovation
conclusion.”3 The chorus and soloists received praise: “The voices of the University
Chorale, reverent and restrained, blend with and support the brilliant soloists in the
solemn climax.”4 The maestro’s reading was “soul-satisfying”5 and exhibited “empathy
with Mahler.”6 In Abravanel’s hands, “[t]he nuances and the shifts in mood which the
composer built into his symphony came through most beautifully.”7 The upcoming
recording sessions were mentioned with the welcoming reception of the previous Mahler
recordings.8
The 1966–1967 season was also Abravanel’s twentieth season, for which many
sent congratulatory greetings, including Eugene Ormandy, Utah Governor Calvin L.
Rampton, and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.9 On March 28, 1966, Governor
Rampton presented Abravanel a gold wrist watch and a photo album, containing pictures
1
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Successful Season: Symphony Finale: Majestic Mahler,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 27
March 1966, Maurice Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76, Special Collections and Archives, University of
Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
2
Jim Fitzpatrick, “Mighty Mahler Rendition Closes Symphony Season,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 March
1967, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
3
Donna Bowen, “Triumphant Season Ends,” Deseret News, 30 March 1967, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 76.
4
Ibid.
5
Ibid.
6
Fitzpatrick, “Mighty Mahler Rendition Closes Symphony Season.”
7
Ibid.
8
Bowen, “Triumphant Season Ends.”
9
Eugene Ormandy to Maurice Abravanel, 22 September 1966, letter, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 14;
Calvin Rampton to Maurice Abravanel, n.d., letter, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 15; Hubert H.
Humphrey to Maurice Abravanel, 19 October 1966, letter, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 15.
141
of the maestro’s “musical triumphs in Utah and on tours” as well as letters of praise from
various important figures in Utah.10 That day was proclaimed as “Maurice Abravanel
Day.”11 The Utah Symphony started receiving more attention nationwide after their first
international tour in 1966, in which they were invited to perform in the Athens Festival,
the annual summer festival held in Greece. After twenty years of Abravanel’s direction,
the Utah Symphony now enjoyed strong local support and worldwide exposure through
recordings and tours. Their Mahler recordings were no small part of that accomplishment.
On March 30, 1967, the day after the concert in the Tabernacle, Abravanel and
Vanguard started recording Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Utah Symphony, the
University Civic Chorale, and two soloists: Beverly Sills and Florence Kopleff. This
recording received an extensive review in High Fidelity by Bernard Jacobson, a frequent
reviewer for Mahler recordings. Previously, he praised Abravanel’s recording of the
Eighth Symphony for achieving “a commendable and valuable degree of accuracy”12 and
that of the Seventh for giving “a clearer picture of the work’s overall shape.”13 Instead of
using the conservative language in the previous two reviews, Jacobson’s review of
Abravanel’s recording of the Second made bold statements such as “With this
performance, Abravanel has advanced from the ranks of the very good Mahler
10
“Utah Praises Work of Abravanel,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 March 1967, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 76.
11
Calvin L. Rampton, Proclamation, n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 15.
12
Bernard Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, in E flat,” High Fidelity Magazine 17/2 (February 1967),
94, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
13
Bernard Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 7,” High Fidelity Magazine 16/4 (April 1966): 100,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 25.
142
conductors into those of the great, and the continuation of his series must be looked
forward to with the keenest interest.”14
Critics embraced the recording’s sound. Jacobson described the sound as
“astonishing,” in particular about the dynamic range, which embraced “pianissimos like
the whisper of a summer breeze and fortissimos that may make even your neighbors think
the Day of Judgment has arrived.”15 The sound quality was so impressive that the
recording was the number one choice in an “unorthodox review of stereo releases that
show off, or show up, your system” by Norman Eisenberg, who often wrote about sound
equipment and had recommended eight recordings suitable for “assessing speaker
performance.” In the Vanguard recording of Mahler’s Second, the Dolby noise reduction
system provided “an unusually noise-free background again which all the stunning sonics
can emerge.” If the speakers were good enough, Eisenberg wrote, the listeners should be
able to hear “the guttiness of the strings,” “different tones” in the timpani, “internal
separation of orchestral choirs during complex passages,” “the chorus entrance in the last
movement: the singers’ voices should sound blended and well articulated,” and “the
closing bars where the orchestra is underscored by deep organ tones which should be
half-felt, half-heard.”16 These characteristics entailed Vanguard engineers’ attention to
detail and attracted not only the people interested in Mahler’s music but also those
serious about sound equipment. Eisenberg’s review thus included producers and sound
engineers among the contributors to a successful recording.
14
Bernard Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (’Resurrection’),” High Fidelity Magazine 17/11
(November 1967): 102, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
15
Ibid.
16
Norman Eisenberg, “Eight Records to Judge Your Speakers by,” High Fidelity 18/6 (June 1968), 44.
143
The musical aspect was “breathtaking” according to Jacobson:
Abravanel’s previous Mahler releases (the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies) were
powerful, sensitive, and musical without ever quite scaling the heights of
sublimity. Now he has thrown caution to the winds and produced an interpretation
of awesome, inspired magnificence. Discretion and a sense of proportion,
however, have not deserted him, and it is these virtues—quite apart from the
quality of the recording—that seem to me to give him the edge over Solti.17
Jacobson singled out the conductor’s masterful handling of rehearsal 14 (m. 194) in the
Finale—“here Abravanel had me leaping out of my chair in veritable terror”—and “the
Kräftig section four pages later” (m. 220)—“conductor and engineers between them have
achieved a moment so intense as for once to justify the use, in its fullest sense, of the
word ‘sensational.’”18 As seen in the reviews of Abravanel’s recordings of the Eighth and
Seventh, his interpretation was often described as accurate but under-characterized;
Jacobson’s review was a rare one that praised the “sublime” and “sensational” quality of
the maestro’s interpretation.
Interestingly, Abravanel’s interpretation in this section sounds quite close to
Bernstein’s in his 1963 recording.19 Initially their tempos for the section’s two opening
measures (mm. 194–195) are quite different, with Bernstein’s only half of Abravanel’s
tempo. However, the long fermata in these two measures starkly contrasts to the regular
notes, making the difference in tempos in the two versions less significant. At m. 196,
Bernstein’s tempo is faster than Abravanel’s but not by much. Both versions slightly
decrease the tempo at m. 220. The similarities between the two versions in these 45
17
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (’Resurrection’).”
18
Ibid.
19
Gustav Mahler, Gustav Mahler: the Complete Symphonies, Leonard Bernstein, the New York
Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra, Sony, SX12K 89499, 2001, CD.
144
measures point to the possibility that Bernstein’s version planted a model in listeners’
ears, to which later recordings were compared consciously or unconsciously—the closer
a later recording is to Bernstein’s, the more likely it would receive positive reviews.
Table 5.2: Tempo comparison, mm. 194–239 of Mahler’s Second Symphony, fifth
movement
Rehearsal #
14
(Allegro energico)
15
(Kräftig)
16
Measure #
194
195
196–209
210–219
220–237
238–239
Abravanel (1968)
100–115 bpm
145–170 bpm
~140 bpm
~140 bpm
~133 bpm
~133 bpm
Bernstein (1963)
55–60 bpm
55–60 bpm
~165 bpm
~165 bpm
~150 bpm
~150 bpm
Jacobson was similarly enthusiastic about the performance of the orchestra and
soloists. He stated that the Utah Symphony was comparable to “the London Symphony in
top form” and the orchestra had made Mahler’s Second Symphony “sound easy to play.”
As for the soloists, “Beverly Sills sings the solo soprano part beautifully,” and Florence
Kopleff’s “rich contralto is ideally suited to the music.”20 Additionally, Jacobson praised
Martin Bookspan’s “workmanlike set of notes and texts and translations.”21
Reviews from Utah either quoted outside reviews or highly regarded the
recording. Harold Lundstrom’s article quoted Jacobson’s review extensively, especially
the musical aspects, including Abravanel’s “awesome, inspired” interpretation and the
orchestra and soloists’ performance.22 David O’Neil emphasized the use of “nearly 100
corrections made in the Mahler score for the first time on record, changes approved by
20
Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (’Resurrection’).”
21
Ibid.
22
Harold Lundstrom, “‘Leaping Out Of My Chair,’” Deseret News, n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box
76.
145
the International Mahler Society.” Despite some minor problems, O’Neil praised aspects
including the acoustics in the Tabernacle, Abravanel’s “lively” interpretation, the
orchestra and chorus who performed “admirably,” Kopleff’s being “as lush-voiced and as
perfect as ever,” and Sills’s “beautiful voice.”23
Years later, Abravanel’s recording of the Second was still recommended, which
could be partially attributed to Beverly Sills. When Sills performed and recorded with the
Utah Symphony in 1967, her career was at a turning point; in 1966 she had sung
Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with the New York City Opera, which brought her
recognition that led to her appearance in several major opera houses in Europe in 1967–
1970.24 As Sills later recalled, “He [Abravanel] wanted me when nobody did.”25 Later her
booming reputation helped sustain the popularity of this recording. A 1970 record review
by Robert C. Marsh, reviewing Bernard Haitink’s and Rafael Kubelik’s recordings of
Mahler’s Second Symphony, mentioned Abravanel’s version as “worth having simply for
what Beverly Sills and Florence Kopleff achieve in the finale.”26 In 1981 King Durkee
reviewed a recent recording of Mahler’s Second by Solti with the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra and again reminisced about “the magnificent recording by Maurice Abravanel
and the Utah Symphony Orchestra with equally great vocal contributions from Beverly
Sills and Florence Kopleff.”27
23
David O’Neil, “Utah Symphony Mahler Record Termed ‘Superb,’” The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 November
1967, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
24
Peter G. Davis, “Sills, Beverly,” in Oxford Music Online, www.oxfordmusiconline.com, accessed 24
July 2015.
25
David L. Beck, “Opera’s queen to sing with Utah Symphony,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 February 1977.
26
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler: Symphony No. 2,” High Fidelity 20/2 (February 1970), 89.
27
King Durkee, “Strictly classical,” The Daily Gleaner, 20 October 1981.
146
Although this recording was well received, the fast-growing market of Mahler
recordings in the late 1960s dampened the excitement.28 In September 1967, Jacobson
reviewed “the sixty-odd recorded versions currently available.”29 Any new Mahler
recordings at this time would not be hailed for the simple fact that they were made or
followed a new score; instead, they faced the competition of many existing recordings as
well as newer recordings soon to be made. The overwhelming positivity from 1964 and
1965, when the recordings of the Eighth and Seventh were released, would no longer be
seen for the rest of the Utah Symphony’s Mahler cycle.
Recording Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (1968)
Between the recordings of the Second and Fourth Symphonies, Abravanel
conducted the Second, the Fourth, and Das Lied von der Erde multiple times in and
outside Utah. While subscription concerts showed the local audience’s embrace of
Mahler’s music and the orchestra’s performance, concerts on tour demonstrated that the
orchestra’s past recordings had spread its name in performing Mahler’s works.
The performance of Das Lied von der Erde was exciting particularly because of
the famed contralto Maureen Forrester. While Beverly Sills was not yet famous when she
appeared with the Utah Symphony, Forrester had been recognized for her Mahler singing
28
A surge in the number of Mahler recordings could be seen in the early 1960s, around the time Abravanel
started recording Mahler’s symphonies. In Lewis Smoley’s discography, 32 recordings of Mahler’s
Symphonies Nos. 1 to 9 from 1936 to 1958 were listed. In the 1960s, 58 recordings were listed. If we use
Abravanel’s first Mahler recording as a vantage point, 46 Mahler recordings were listed before Abravanel’s
recording of Mahler’s Eighth, and 52 more recordings were listed since then till the end of the 1960s. The
increase of recordings was evident; more Mahler recordings were made in the second half of the 1960s than
in the previous three decades from 1936 to 1964. Lewis M. Smoley, The Symphonies of Gustav Mahler: A
Critical Discography (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).
29
Bernard Jacobson, “The Mahler Symphonies on Records,” High Fidelity 17/9 (September 1967): 55–59.
147
at various European festivals in the 1950s.30 Utah newspapers and concert advertisements
noted Forrester’s reputation for interpreting Mahler;31 she was described as
“internationally acclaimed for her definitive Mahler interpretation,”32 and called “the
outstanding interpreter of the vocal works of Gustav Mahler.”33 Together, Forrester and
Abravanel were termed “two Mahler award-winners.”34
The concert was well received, and its reviews suggested that the community had
recognized Abravanel’s credibility in conducting Mahler’s music. The soloists were
applauded for unifying the song cycle “with the attainment of overall mood and a deep
comprehension of the musical bounds and the affinities of each fragment for its
neighbors.”35 Forrester’s vocal style was “dramatic” and Cochran’s singing was
“competent.”36 Abravanel’s reading was “heartfelt and beautiful.”37 As The Salt Lake
Tribune staff writer stated, “Abravanel again demonstrated his personal affinity for
30
Martin Bernheimer, “Forrester, Maureen,” Oxford Music Online, www.oxfordmusiconline, accessed 24
July 2015.
31
An announcement of the season from February 1967 explained that she had been “widely acclaimed for
her interpretations of Mahler.” Jim Fitzpatrick, “Utah Symphony Announces Season,” The Salt Lake
Tribune, 26 February 1967.
32
“Advertisement, Utah Symphony,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 November 1967.
33
“First Appearance Here: Noted Contralto Sings Thursday, Will Be Utah Symphony Soloist,” Ogden
Standard-Examiner, 26 November 1967.
34
David O’Neill, “Contralto, Tenor Featured: Symphony to Play Mahler,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 26
November 1967.
Maureen Forrester was listed as one of the recipients of citations for Mahler, along with other
prominent Mahler figures such as Dietrich Fisher-Diskau and Deryck Cooke, in the 1969 issue of Chord
and Discord, but the year and type of award were not clarified. “Recipients of Citations,” Chord and
Discord 3/1 (1969): 125.
35
Harold Lundstrom, “An Awesome Height of Artistry,” Deseret News, 30 November 1967, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
36
David O’Neil, “Utah Symphony Gives Dazzling S.L. Display,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 30 November
1967.
37
Lundstrom, “An Awesome Height of Artistry.”
148
Mahler’s music”; the city had witnessed many other Mahler performances and was
becoming accustomed to Abravanel’s interest and authority in conducting Mahler. “[A]
seasoned guide,” Abravanel “led his orchestra through steep ascents and past gorgeous
vistas.”38
Mahler’s Fourth Symphony was performed in March 1968 and recorded
sometime before June.39 Critics embraced Abravanel’s “interpretive ability” and
Davrath’s “bell-like soprano tones.” DeAnn Evans emphasized the eclectic nature of the
work, describing it as “exultant, pensive, gay, sad, and whimsical all at once,” with the
first movement being “a delightful combination between the classical tradition and a
semi-contemporary style.” Davrath’s “clear, warm voice” was said to portray “a most
charming picture of heaven” in the fourth movement.40
In 1968 the Utah Symphony brought the Fourth on the West Coast tour. The
concert in Seattle on June 21 was attended by “a near-capacity audience, warm in its
response to the music.” The performance of the Fourth Symphony was “exemplary” and
“effectively-played,” and Abravanel was said to clearly know Mahler’s music.41 The
concert on June 24 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco was “love at first
sight.” While Abravanel’s affinity with Mahler was only hinted at—“Abravanel’s
38
O’Neil, “Utah Symphony Gives Dazzling S.L. Display.”
39
“Abravanel, Noted as Interpreter Of Mahler, to Present ‘4th’ Here,” Santa Barbara News Press, 19 May
1968, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
Netania Davrath sang the vocal part. Jack Diether again wrote the liner notes.
40
DeAnn Evans, “Symphony ‘A Dream’ Comes True,” Deseret News, 30 March 1968, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 77.
41
Some mishaps, including Preston’s voice being “far too light” in the fourth movement and some “defects”
in the string and horn sections, did not discredit the overall merit. The orchestra was “careful, almost
cautious” and “well-disciplined.” Rolf Stromberg, “The Utah Symphony Has Its Moments,” Seattle PostIntelligencer, 22 June 1968, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
149
mountain of authority made all of this come through well”42—the conductor’s
interpretation was termed “[c]lear, almost French texture dominated, with a bright chirrup
kind of tone plus objective, ‘straight’ tempos,” contrasting Josef Krips’ “Viennese
style.”43 These descriptions were reminiscent of the record reviews of Abravanel’s other
Mahler recordings, which often viewed his reading as closer to the score and less
exaggerated than other Mahler conductors such as Bernstein. Other concert reviews for
this tour suggested that the orchestra and the conductor’s reputation had been validated
by tours and recordings. A San Francisco review called the Utah Symphony a “big-scaled,
excellent orchestra” that was “known for its American and foreign tours,” and another
termed the Utah Symphony “a distinguished orchestra” and Abravanel’s reputation
established “by a great number of impressive recordings.”44 Jean Preston’s singing was
described as “fresh and young, despite shakiness of tone” and “bringing joy and
considerable charm” to the symphony.45
On the same tour, the Utah Symphony performed Mahler’s Second Symphony at
the Hollywood Bowl on June 22. While Abravanel had conducted at the Bowl twice
before, it was the Utah Symphony’s debut in Los Angeles. Abravanel’s Mahler Medal
from the Bruckner Society and honorary membership from the Internationale Gustav
42
Marilyn Tucker, “Bay Debut By Utah Symphony,” Oakland Tribune, 25 June 1968.
43
Heuwell Tircuit, “Good Program: Utah Symphony’s Welcome Visit,” San Francisco Chronicle, 26 June
1968, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
44
Alexander Fried, “Utah Symphony Excels,” The San Francisco Examiner, 25 June 1968, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 77; Marilyn Tucker, “Bay Debut By Utah Symphony.”
45
Fried, “Utah Symphony Excels”; Tucker, “Bay Debut By Utah Symphony.”
The concert on June 25 in Portland at the New Civic Auditorium was similarly embraced; the
orchestra’s playing was “nicely in the spirit” and the soloist “conveyed nicely the childish fancies.” Hilmar
Grondahl, “Utah Symphony Shows Fine Artistry In First concert At Civic Auditorium,” The Oregonian, 26
June 1968, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
150
Mahler Gesellschaft as well as the Utah Symphony’s being invited to perform at Athens
Festival built up expectations.46 The Los Angeles Times critic Martin Bernheimer called
Mahler’s Second “a Utah specialty” and “a giant-size undertaking.”47 However, the
performance was less than ideal, possibly due to amplification problems and reduced
rehearsal time. The performance “failed to do justice to the Utah orchestra’s reputation,
and it failed to reinforce the positive impression left by the ensemble’s recordings.” The
“intonation, articulation, balance and accuracy” seemed to all have gone wrong.48 The
acoustics of the amphitheater perhaps prevented the orchestra from sounding like a large
ensemble.49 While Daniel Cariaga called Abravanel’s reading “elegant,” Bernheimer
thought the performance was dull, especially in comparison to the group’s recording of
the same work, which showed that Abravanel’s “concept of the Mahler Second is not the
cautious, foursquare run-through offered Saturday.”50 Although the ending “inspire[d] a
degree of conviction,” but it was “too late to counterbalance—or redeem—what had gone
before.”51 This concert was one of the few negatively-reviewed ones, but the high
expectations beforehand and the privilege of opening the Bowl reflected Abravanel and
the Utah Symphony’s growing fame.
46
“Utah Symphony: Inspired Leadership Wins Top Respect,” Citizen News, 14 June 1968, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
47
Martin Bernheimer, “Mahler, Via Utah, to Open the Bowl,” Los Angeles Times, 20 June 1968, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
48
Martin Bernheimer, “First Coast Tour: Utah Symphony Plays Mahler Score at Bowl,” Los Angeles Times,
24 June 1968.
49
Daniel Cariaga, “Utah Symphony Brings Bowl an Atypical, Worthy Concert,” Press Telegram, 24 June
1968.
50
Cariaga, “Utah Symphony Brings Bowl an Atypical, Worthy Concert”; Bernheimer, “First Coast Tour:
Utah Symphony Plays Mahler Score at Bowl.”
51
Bernheimer, “First Coast Tour: Utah Symphony Plays Mahler Score at Bowl.”
151
The recording of the Fourth was released near the end of 1968 but did not receive
as much attention as the previous three Mahler recordings, probably because the Fourth
was the second most recorded symphony by Mahler, only less recorded than the First. At
this time, ten other versions existed, whereas thirteen recordings of the First were
available.52 Mark Kanny applauded Abravanel for using the new Critical Edition, which
“presents Mahler’s music without distortion.”53 Kanny particularly embraced the finale,
in which Davrath “conveys the childlike delight and simplicity of the music,” Abravanel
accompanies gracefully, and “altogether this is the most enticing and enjoyable version of
the song.”54 Fred Pleibel from the Los Angeles Times called the recording “the most
lightfooted and sunny Mahler Fourth on recordings” with strong solo winds,
“extraordinarily transparent engineering,” and “a charming performance” in the last
movement by Davrath. Pleibel also noted the “insipid playing of the Utah Symphony’s
violins,” which almost “negated” the otherwise successful recording.55 Bernard
Jacobson’s review in High Fidelity was no less harsh. Although the recording was the
first to use the Critical Edition, compared to that of the Second, it was “disappointing” —
“His [Abravanel’s] control here is much less firm and his accentuation less purposeful.”
Davrath’s singing in the last movement was “equally disappointing.” Nonetheless,
Jacobson recognized Abravanel’s overall achievement in recording Mahler’s symphonies;
he stated that Abravanel’s recording of the Fourth “would have seem more impressive if
52
Fred Kirby, “Classical Music: Berlioz, Mahler Works Get Wax Action,” Billboard 50/48 (November 30,
1968): 44.
53
Mark N. Kanny, “Mahler: Symphony No. 4,” American Record Guide 35/2 (October 1968), 146.
54
Ibid., 148.
55
Fred Pleibel, “Classical LPs: Alla Breve,” Los Angeles Times, 8 June 1969.
152
No. 2 had been less spectacular. But Abravanel has set himself a towering standard. Let
us hope that his future recordings will come closer to it.”56 Despite this less successful
recording, Abravanel and the Utah Symphony continued their Mahler journey and the
next two recordings would be better received than this one.
Recording Mahler’s Third and Ninth Symphonies (1969)
On March 9, 1969, Abravanel conducted Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with the
Utah Symphony, the only time he conducted this symphony in concert. In his review,
critic Bill Hansen continued the rhetoric about Abravanel’s growing authority on
interpreting Mahler—“During the past year the fame of the symphony rested on the
interpretation of this great man’s [Mahler’s] works. Who else but Maurice Abravanel has
recreated the genius of Mahler so excellently? Who else has proven so consistently that
he understands what the Austrian genius wanted to say?”57 Additionally, Hansen
applauded the orchestra for being able to “grasp and use the emotional ideas intended by
the composer” and Abravanel for his “excellent interpretation.”58
Two months after the concert, Abravanel recorded Mahler’s Ninth and Third
Symphonies with Vanguard. In the recording sessions, the Utah Symphony also recorded
Berlioz’s Requiem with the University of Utah Civic Chorale and A Capella Choir.59
Mahler’s Third Symphony, unlike the other symphonies, was not performed before being
56
Bernard Jacobson, “Mahler: Symphony No. 4,” High Fidelity 19/3 (March 1969): 96.
57
Bill Hansen, “Abravanel leads Mahler’s work,” n.d., s.n., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
58
Ibid.
59
“Symphony Records Mahler, Berlioz,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 May 1969.
153
recorded.60 Again Seymour Solomon brought sound equipment and engineers to the
Mormon Tabernacle; this time he was excited about “catching the unique sound of the
Tabernacle by experimenting with a new recording technique,” quadraphonic sound.
More specifically, he used 18 microphones—five among the singers, eleven in the
orchestra, and two directional microphones “a little distance in front of the stage.” The
two directional microphones, facing the back of the building, were to pick up the sound
of the building. These microphones recorded sound on a four-track system instead of the
two-track stereo system that had been used.61 When the recording was being played, the
sound from the two groups of microphones among the musicians would be played in the
two speakers in front of the listeners, and the sound from the two directional microphones
would be played in the two speakers behind the listeners. The main purpose of this
“Surround Stereo,” as Vanguard called it, was to reproduce “the actual acoustical
properties of the auditorium recorded in and of surrounding the listener with the sound as
though he were seated in a concert hall.”62 Essentially, one could even identify the place
of recording through the “differences in reverberation.”63 Vanguard introduced the
system to the press at its headquarters on June 25, 1969, and the Utah Symphony’s
60
Abravanel would finally conduct this work in a concert in 1979, his last season with the Utah Symphony.
Harold Lundstrom incorrectly stated that “[t]he Mahler ‘Third Symphony’ with the Civic Chorale was
performed during the 1968–1969 season” in “Putting It On Tape Differently,” Deseret News, 5 May 1969.
The Utah Symphony’s record suggested that Mahler’s Third Symphony was only performed twice before
the 2014–15 season: once in January 1979, conducted by Abravanel, and once in February 2001, conducted
by Keith Lockhart. (“The Utah Symphony’s Mahler Tradition,” Utah Symphony,
http://www.utahsymphony.org/the-orchestra/85-the-utah-symphonys-mahler-tradition, accessed 26 July
2015.) No other sources that indicated a performance of Mahler’s Third by the Utah Symphony before
1979 could be found.
61
Lundstrom, “Putting It On Tape Differently.”
62
Fred Kirby, “Vanguard’s 4-Track System,” Billboard 81/27 (July 5, 1969): 3.
63
Ibid.
154
recordings of Mahler’s Third and Ninth Symphonies were among the first releases of the
new technology.64 These earliest four-track recordings were only available on reel-to-reel
tapes.
The idea of four-track sound seemed a logical progression from stereo sound.
Many other companies followed suit to develop their own quadraphonic systems. The
new technology was not widely accepted, however. Firstly, it was expensive to set up the
system. As the way to produce four-channel sound was not yet standardized, some
modification of equipment was necessary. Although the tapes could be played on the
stereo systems available at that time, to hear the quadraphonic sound, consumers needed
extra equipment, including open-reel equipment with “special heads to reproduce the four
tracks simultaneously” or a conversion kit that included “the four-track playback head
and an extra set of playback preamps.” Plus, a second pair of speakers were needed.65
Secondly, when quadraphonic LPs became available in the early 1970s, the various
competing formats were incompatible, among which the most competitive ones were SQ
(used by CBS, Sony, and EMI), QS (developed by Sansui), and CD-4 (used by JVC and
RCA).66 The market was divided by these formats, and no single format could provide
the consumers with all the artists they liked. For instance, if a consumer wanted “fourchannel recordings Leonard Bernstein (SQ—Columbia), Herbie Mann (CD-4—Atlantic),
64
Other first releases included Berlioz’s Requiem (also recorded by Abravanel and the Utah Symphony),
Joan Baez’s David’s Album, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Illuminations, and Jean Jacques Perrey’s The Amazing
Electronic Sound. Kirby, “Vanguard’s 4-Track System.”
65
Robert Long, “Ping-Ping-Pong-Pong: Does Vanguard’s new four-channel ‘Surround Sound’ foreshadow
the stereo of the future?” High Fidelity 19/9 (September 1969): 62–63.
66
SQ and QS used matrix formats, whereas CD-4 used the discrete format.
155
and B. B. King (QS—ABC or Command),” he or she needed all three systems.67 Lastly,
the requirement of having four speakers created inconvenience; some critics pointed out
that “most rooms have a door in one corner, and the hi-fi magazines were full of stories
of critics’ wives who had had to duck under a speaker with the coffee tray.”68 Due to
these factors, the four-track sound “lasted only a couple of years and was given a quiet
burial.”69
Because of the trouble of setting up a quadraphonic reproduction system, early
reviews of Abravanel’s recordings of Mahler’s Third and Ninth Symphonies discussed
the LP discs instead of the tapes, as the reviews listed serial numbers of LPs (starting
with VCS) instead of tapes (starting with VSS). Since the LPs could only reproduce
mono or stereo sound, the technical discussion in these reviews merely mentioned a
“four-track option.”70 As a set, these two recordings were welcomed for the lower price,
the “special acoustical qualities” of Mormon Tabernacle, and “exceptionally high
engineering standards.”71
The recording of the Third was welcomed. The longest review came from Gerald
Fox, president of the Gustav Mahler Society of New York from 1987 to 2009.72 Fox
highly regarded the recording, which was “superbly played, on the whole stunningly
67
Alfred W. Myers, “Four-Channel Sound Today: A Very Lively Corpse,” High Fidelity 26/11 (November
1976), 77. Myers discussed in detail the pros and cons of the different systems. Myers, 74–77.
68
Pekka Gronow and Ilpo Saunio, An International History of the Recording Industry (London; New York:
Cassell, 1998), 185.
69
Ibid.
70
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler in Utah,” High Fidelity 20/5 (May 1970): 84.
71
Ibid.
72
“Short History,” in The Gustav Mahler Society, http://www.gmsnyc.org/history.php, accessed 16
December 2015.
156
recorded, and no less welcome for its distinguished competition.”73 Fox emphasized that
“[t]he vast acoustical spaciousness of the Mormon Tabernacle provides an ideal
ambience for the music’s grandiose transcendentalism.”74 He also praised the soloist
Christina Krooskos for singing “beautifully” and the chorus for “[achieving] the light
texture and charm appropriate to most of the Wunderhorn text in the fifth movement.”75
The most praiseworthy aspect was Abravanel’s interpretation:
Abravanel’s view of the symphony is soft-focused, rather favoring smooth
textures and understatement. This perspective may not encompass the compleat
Mahler, but it offers its own rewards. The broad and noble pacing is completely
viable except in the second movement, where I think more speed is required;
despite Mahler’s directive (“Sehr mässig, Ja nicht eilen!”—very moderate,
certainly not hurried!), the movement is, after all, a Tempo di Menuetto, not a
saraband.76
Although Fox did not completely agree with the tempo, he affirmed that Abravanel’s
version “offers its own rewards.” In other words, Abravanel’s interpretation might not be
the definitive version, but it was an attractive alternative. Fox used the opening of the
first movement to demonstrate how the conductor was loyal to the score:
More often than not, Abravanel is remarkably attentive to details. Note
how scrupulously he stresses all the accented notes of the opening phrase for eight
unison horns, but not the C and E (written), which are the only two unaccented in
the score. This textural fidelity is most telling. The introduction sounds at once
open and majestic, but also “Kraftig, Entschleden” [sic] (vigorous, resolute), as
the score has it.77
73
Gerald S. Fox, “Grandiose transcendentalism: Horenstein and Abravanel in the Mahler Third Symphony,”
American Record Guide 37/9 (May 1971), 577.
74
Ibid.
75
Ibid., 577, 580.
76
Ibid., 577.
77
Ibid.
157
Instead of criticizing Abravanel for being less than exciting, Fox applauded the
conductor’s careful adherence to the score. Indeed, the two unaccented notes are played
slightly lighter than the other accented notes. Furthermore, Fox commended Abravanel
for providing, “for the first time on records, the newly-prepared critical edition.”
Abravanel went beyond using a newly published Critical Edition, as he did for the
Seventh and Fourth Symphonies. This time, “[h]is diligence and enterprise are especially
noteworthy considering that this edition is not yet even published. He actually took the
trouble to write in changes which W. Parks Grant (of the University of Mississippi)
uncovered while working on this edition, in Vienna, under the stewardship of Professor
Erwin Ratz.”78
Other briefer reviews similarly congratulated this recording. Robert Marsh from
High Fidelity stated that the recording was “a well-paced and well-played performance
that deals effectively with all the major interpretive problems and captures the very
Austrian, nature-worshiping, ebullient romanticism of the music.”79 Craig Palmer from
Pasadena, California embraced the recording from the “dynamic strength,” “a dramatic,
evocative contribution by alto Miss Krooskos,” “a gusty rendition by the Utah Chorale,”
“shimmery orchestral colors,” to clear interplay between instruments with “balance and
moderation.”80 Enos E. Shupp, Jr., a critic writing for the record company H. Royer
Smith in Philadelphia, praised the “spectacularly good” sound with “an appropriate
spacious quality.” The soloist Krooskos’s voice was “lovely” and the choirs “fresh and
naive.” Overall, Abravanel’s version, with the exception of the second movement, was “a
78
Ibid., 580.
79
Marsh, “Mahler in Utah.”
80
Craig Palmer, “Classical Records,” Pasadena Star-News, 17 May 1970.
158
match for any [other versions] in spirit and conviction.”81 The New York Times critic
Donal Henahan singled out the “well-drilled choruses and a strong alto soloist.”82 Bert
Willard from the Santa Barbara News-Press suggested the recording, with its “stunning”
sound, to be put on the Christmas gift list.83 A later review from 1976, discussing the
reel-to-reel tapes, excitingly detailed the sound quality. The recording “captures the aweinspiring acoustical environment of the Mormon Tabernacle and one of the finest
orchestras in our country in a thrilling performance that lacks nothing in creating a youare-there feeling!”84
Abravanel’s recording of Mahler’s Ninth, with its warm sound and bursting
energy, was similarly embraced. Marsh commended Abravanel’s “pretty valid” approach
in using the final Adagio to set “the tone of the entire work and the three earlier
movements prepare us for its mood of resolution and final repose,” which achieved “a
thoroughly convincing performance.”85 An Ohio newspaper praised the use of the Dolby
noise reduction system and the “luscious” sound and “outstanding” engineering. The
interpretation of Abravanel, “one of today’s leading Mahler interpreters,” was “relaxed
yet smoothly flowing.”86 Shupp, Jr. applauded the “dramatic” and “mature” recording.87
81
Enos E. Shupp, Jr., “Mahler: Symphony No. 3, Mahler: Symphony No. 9,” The New Records 38/2 (April
1970).
82
Donal Henahan, “Mahler Madness At Fever Pitch,” The New York Times, 2 August 1970.
83
Bert Willard, “Sales of New Album Indicates Classical Music Still Popular,” Santa Barbara News-Press,
10 October 1970, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
84
John Sunier, “The Stereo Scene: Quad Revolution Goes On,” San Rafael Independent Journal, 3 January
1976, M12.
85
Marsh, “Mahler in Utah.”
86
Jack Rudolph, “Vanguard hits academic album big time,” Zanesville Post Crescent, 12 April 1970.
87
Shupp, Jr., “Mahler: Symphony No. 3, Mahler: Symphony No. 9.”
159
Willard stated that Abravanel and the Utah Symphony had made the symphony “their
own” and called the recording “definitive,” “surpassing Walter, Bernstein, Barbirolli and
Klemperer in interpretation and realization.”88
The only criticism was about the less than ideal ending in the recording. As
Henahan stated, the end of Mahler’s Ninth, which should “fade away into nothingness”
was too regular and dissatisfying in Abravanel’s recording; “Abravanel, excellent on so
many counts, misses the end-of-the-world feeling, the suspension in space and time that
one waits for here.”89 Compared to two recordings by Bruno Walter, who premiered the
symphony in 1912, Abravanel’s version in fact has a slower ending. The last 27 measures
(mm. 159–185) take 2 minutes 21 seconds in Walter’s 1938 recording with the Vienna
Philharmonic, 2 minutes 48 seconds (18:16–21:04) in his 1961 recording with the
Columbia Symphony Orchestra,90 and 3 minutes 58 seconds in Abravanel’s. Walter
maintains a faster tempo throughout this last section and only slows down dramatically in
the last two measures. He even speeds up on some long notes. Abravanel keeps a slower
tempo, maintains the length of the long notes, and does not decrease the tempo as much
as Walter in the last two measures. Although Abravanel’s ending displays less contrast,
one could argue that his slower tempo creates more of the “end-of-the-world feeling.”
88
Willard, “Sales of New Album Indicates Classical Music Still Popular.”
89
Henahan, “Mahler Madness At Fever Pitch.”
90
Gustav Mahler, Mahler: Symphony No. 9, Bruno Walter and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, EMI, CD
H 7 63029 2, 1989, CD, https://www.naxosmusiclibrary.com/, accessed 1 January 2016 (recorded on 16
January 1938); Gustav Mahler, Bruno Walter Conducts and Talks about Mahler: Symphony No. 9,
Rehearsal & Performance, Bruno Walter and Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Sony, 1996, CD (recorded in
1961).
Walter’s version from 1938 was recorded live in his last concert with the Vienna Philharmonic;
soon afterwards, Adolf Hitler took over the city. Walter himself did not particularly like this recording
because of “its extraneous noises and technical limitations.” Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler’s Third and Ninth:
Both Worthy Tributes,” High Fidelity 12/6 (June 1962), 51.
160
By this time, it was clear that Abravanel was “well on his way to completing the
entire Mahler repertoire.”91 Henahan stated, “The Utah Symphony Orchestra and its
conductor, Maurice Abravanel, advance two more steps toward completing a Mahler
cycle [with the recordings of Mahler’s Third and Ninth].”92 Marsh wrote, “Abravanel
continues his Mahler edition, which is now well past the halfway point, with six of the
symphonies in print.”93 In the following decade, as these critics anticipated, Abravanel
and the Utah Symphony would record the rest of the Mahler cycle.
Completing the Mahler Recording Cycle (1974)
Between February 1970 and October 1974, Abravanel and the Utah Symphony
performed Mahler’s First Symphony, Fifth Symphony, the Adagietto from the Fifth
Symphony, and the Adagio of the Tenth Symphony in subscription concerts and on
tour.94 These performances helped the orchestra prepare for the last installment of the
Mahler cycle. Meanwhile, the Utah community was getting to know Mahler’s music from
the multiple performances, program notes, concert announcements, and concert reviews,
many of which affirmed Abravanel’s reputation as a Mahler expert, the Mahler
recordings’ contribution to the orchestra’s fame, and that the maestro was indeed a
91
Willard, “Sales of New Album Indicates Classical Music Still Popular.”
92
Henahan, “Mahler Madness At Fever Pitch.”
93
Marsh, “Mahler in Utah.”
94
These concerts started on February 7, 1970, when Abravanel performed Mahler’s First Symphony,
twenty-six years since he first performed this work on January 20, 1954. Between October 1971 and May
1974, the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony was programmed many times on tour: in 1971 on
October 9 and 10 and November 11; in 1972 on April 19 and 28, May 19, October 25 and 27, and
December 7; in 1973 on March 26 and 27 as well as on April 26, 27, and 28; and in 1974 on May 14.
Unfortunately, no reviews could be located.
161
Mahlerite. Although the reception of the completed cycle outside Utah was lukewarm,
the preparation and process of recording a Mahler cycle turned Mahler into a trademark
of the Utah Symphony.
Table 5.3: Performances and Recording Sessions of Mahler’s Music in Utah, 1971–1974
Date
January 13, 14, 1971
(concert)
March 8, 9, 1974
(concert)
April 13, 1974
(concert)
Mahler works
Fifth Symphony
Other works
Schubert’s Eighth
Symphony “Unfinished”
May 27-June 1,
1974
(recording)
First Symphony
Fifth Symphony
Sixth Symphony
Adagio of the Tenth Symphony
Adagio of the Tenth Symphony
Fifth Symphony
Adagio of the Tenth Symphony
First Symphony
Bach’s Brandenburg
Concerto No. 2
Wagner’s “Good Friday
Spell” from Parsifal
For the 1971 concert, Lowell Durham’s program notes reminisced about Bruno
Walter’s 1947 letter recommending Abravanel for the conductor position at the Utah
Symphony, and about the Mahler Medal awarded to Abravanel in 1965. The note also
connected Mahler recordings to the orchestra’s development—“The Maestro is
recognized as a leading Mahler authority by the nation’s major record reviewers. The
orchestra’s national and international reputations probably rest more with Mahler
recordings (Vanguard) than with any other single factor.”95 Concert reviews gave more
attention to Mahler’s Fifth than to Schubert’s Eighth.96 Despite a blizzard, 2,500 audience
95
Lowell Durham, Program Notes, 13 January 1971, 224, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 35.
96
Schubert’s Eighth in fact had a longer history in Utah, as it was played on May 17, 1892 in the first
concert of a standalone symphony orchestra in Utah and many more times throughout the years.
162
members, as reported by Harold Lundstrom, showed up at the Tabernacle.97 Another
local critic stated that the Tabernacle was two-thirds full and “favorable response was
seemingly 100 percent.”98 Abravanel’s interpretation was “extremely well balanced” and
the “keen musicality” of the orchestra “never short-changed the sense of humanism.”99
Lundstrom praised Abravanel for “exploiting this nervousness [from playing triplets
quickly] with commendable artistic bounds” and at the same time “did not miss the
dimension of depth.”100
For the all-Mahler concert in March 1974, featuring the Fifth Symphony and the
Adagio of the Tenth Symphony, Durham’s program notes again mentioned Abravanel
and the Utah Symphony’s “widespread acclaim” for Mahler’s music.101 The Ogden
concert on March 8 was warmly received by a “good-sized audience” and the
interpretation of Abravanel, “a specialist in Mahler music,” succeeded in bringing out
“the somber depths of the great work and its melancholy concern with sorrow and
despair.”102 The concert in the Mormon Tabernacle on March 9 was sold out, and the
audience was “spellbound” for the entire concert. Abravanel’s reputation of being a
“Mahler expert” was proved justified with this concert, and the orchestra played with
“great passion” and “great clarity.” For the Fifth Symphony, the trumpet and French horn
97
Harold Lundstrom, “Abravanel Did Not Miss The Dimension of Mahler’s Depth,” Deseret News, 14
January 1971, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
98
George Raine, “To Make Up for Storm, Orchestra Tries Harder,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 January
1971, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 77.
99
Ibid.
100
Lundstrom, “Abravanel Did Not Miss The Dimension of Mahler’s Depth.”
101
Lowell Durham, Program Notes, 8 March 1974, 121, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 36.
102
Ray Wight, “Warm Applause Given Maestro, Orchestra for Mahler Selections,” Ogden StandardExaminer, 9 March 1974.
163
first chairs were singled out for their solos.103 At the end of the concert, Abravanel and
the orchestra received a standing ovation from the “near capacity audience.”104
The closing concert of the 1973–1974 season (on April 13, 1974) featured
Mahler’s First Symphony. In the Deseret News, Lundstrom emphasized Abravanel’s love
for Mahler—“If Gustav Mahler isn’t Maurice Abravanel’s ‘god,’ Mahler must at least be
the leading candidate. Surely, no one loves Mahler more than he does.”105 More than two
decades since his first Mahler concert and more than one decade since his first Mahler
recording, Abravanel’s deep interest in Mahler was hard to miss. However, Lundstrom
stated that this concert was “the only non-sellouts of the season,” and his ambivalent
concert review described that the conductor seemed “a bit impatient with the very slow
speed of the introduction [of Mahler’s First Symphony], and even more with its many
ritardando markings,” which might or might not have affected the overall performance of
the symphony.106 The Salt Lake Tribune’s David Beck was much more positive, reporting
the audience “erupted” as the last sound of Mahler’s First “had thundered into silence.”
Abravanel “spread his arms, as is his custom, and bowed graciously to the Tabernacle
throng” and gestured several principals to stand up to receive applause. When he returned
to bow one last time with the orchestra, the orchestra refused to stand up—“they sat, and
applauded him.” The warm reception from the audience and respect from the orchestra
members were evident. Although Beck did not describe the orchestra’s performance, he
103
David L. Beck, “In Presenting Mahler’s Works: Symphony Performs Brilliantly,” The Salt Lake
Tribune, 11 March 1974, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
104
Harold Lundstrom, “Wild, tranquil—that’s Mahler,” Deseret News, 12 March 1974, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 78.
105
Harold Lundstrom, “Mahler excitement caps concert season,” Deseret News, 15 April 1974, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
106
Lundstrom, “Mahler excitement caps concert season.”
164
was obviously impressed: “I — jaded by years of freebies, wary of any recording that
doesn’t come from Woolworth’s 98-cent ‘cutout’ rack — intend to buy the Utah
Symphony’s new Mahler recordings (the First, Fifth and the adagio from the Tenth) as
soon as they hit the stands.”107 Beck’s excitement was perhaps more than about owning
good recordings; the Utah symphony was close to completing the Mahler cycle, an honor
no other American orchestra had achieved.
As mentioned in Chapter 3, in 1973 the president of Vox, George de
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, wanted to complete the Mahler cycle with the Utah Symphony,
but Abravanel sought out Seymour Solomon again. By September 1973, Abravanel’s
recordings of the last installment of Mahler Symphonies with Vanguard had been
announced in High Fidelity.108 Between May 27 and June 1, 1974 Solomon brought his
recording equipment and engineers to Salt Lake City to record Mahler’s First, Fifth, Sixth
Symphonies and the Adagio of the Tenth Symphony. The maestro had led the Utah
Symphony to perform the First and Fifth as well as the Adagio of the Tenth Symphony in
the previous years. Mahler’s Sixth Symphony was never performed in concerts
throughout Abravanel’s directorship in Utah.109 These recordings were again made with
107
David L. Beck, “Symphony Ends Regular Season With Fine Concert,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 April
1974.
108
“The Coming Season’s Recordings,” High Fidelity 23/9 (September 1973): 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26,
32. (Vanguard’s listings were on p. 32.)
109
It is unclear why Abravanel did not choose to perform Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in concert. The
controversy surrounding the order of the middle movements might have deterred Abravanel, especially
because the maestro valued credible editions. Although Erwin Ratz published a Critical Edition of the Sixth
in 1963, it reverted the movement order back to Scherzo/Andante and was criticized. Moreover, the Sixth
was not among Mahler’s more popular works. It was not premiered in America until 1947 by Dimitri
Mitropoulos, 41 years after its world premiere by Mahler. Lastly, the Sixth does not include any vocalist or
chorus; therefore, it did not provide the opportunity to showcase Utah’s choral resources.
165
the four-track system; therefore, they were available in both stereo and four-channel
versions. A 14-LP box set was released in 1976.110
The reviews of Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s last four Mahler recordings
were uneven. In general, the reception was relatively tepid in comparison to their first
two Mahler recordings. After all, the other Mahler cycles completed prior to Abravanel’s
had increased the competitiveness of the market, including those by Leonard Bernstein
with the New York Philharmonic (Symphonies 1–7, 9) and London Symphony Orchestra
(Symphony 8) on CBS in 1960–1967; Sir Georg Solti with the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra (Symphonies 5–8), London Symphony Orchestra (Symphonies 1, 2, 3, 9), and
the Concertgebouw Orchestra (Symphony 4) on Decca in 1964–1971; Bernard Haitink
with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Symphonies 1–9, Adagio of Symphony 10) on
Decca in 1962–1971; and Rafael Kubelik with Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra on
Deutsche Grammophon in 1967–1971. The strongest appeal of Abravanel’s cycle among
these was the consistency in the orchestra, recording venue, and sound quality, even
though it was recorded over a decade. These factors were considered by Robert Marsh,
when he reviewed Kubelik’s Mahler cycle in 1971, as strengths of “a real edition,” as
opposed to collections of recordings that were made by multiple orchestras, in various
110
The box set was originally scheduled to be released in 1975, shortly after the recordings of Mahler’s
First, Fifth, Sixth, and the Adagio of the Tenth. While no review of the box set could be located, two
sources can piece together the release time of Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s Mahler recording cycle.
The original plan was for unknown reasons delayed and the box set was scheduled to be released in 1976,
according to “Preview of the Forthcoming Year’s Recordings,” High Fidelity 25/9 (September 1975), 19,
107. An article about Abravanel’s receiving the award of best Mahler recording in 1976 stated that “[t]he
1975 Mahler award coincides with the release last month by Vanguard Records of a deluxe 14-record set of
all nine of Mahler’s Symphonies, plus the Adagio of his unfinished 10th.” (“Mahler symphony highlight of
1976 Festival series,” Santa Barbara News-Press, 10 July 1976, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.)
Therefore the box set was probably released around or before June 1976.
166
halls, and in a long time span, as were Bernstein’s and Solti’s Mahler cycles.111 Kubelik’s
cycle was made by one orchestra but possibly in multiple recording halls. This selling
point was emphasized in Seymour Solomon’s statement about Abravanel’s cycle being
“the first recording of the complete Symphonies by one conductor and orchestra in the
U.S.,” as well as “performed in the final critically revised editions and recorded in the
exceptional acoustic environment of Salt Lake City’s Mormon Tabernacle.”112
With the last group of recordings released, critics could now evaluate the Utah
Symphony’s Mahler recording cycle.113 While Abravanel’s approach was accepted and
some recordings valued more than the others, these recordings were rarely called
definitive. In general, the sound quality and budget price were consistently the reason for
critics to recommend these recordings. Abram Chipman in High Fidelity described
Abravanel’s reading as “a model of coherent and firm music-making, allowing the drama
and passion of the scores to speak for themselves.”114 David Hall in Stereo Review
praised the generally high level of performance, “the acoustic excellence of the Mormon
Tabernacle,” and the “intelligent engineering work of the Vanguard recording staff.”115
Both critics also pointed out that the most obvious attraction for Abravanel’s versions
111
Robert C. Marsh, “Mahler’s Symphonies—The Best Complete Set: Kubelik and DGG’s engineers
combine to provide a superb edition,” High Fidelity 21/11 (November 1971), 83–84.
112
“Vanguard Completes Its Mahler Cycle,” Billboard, 29 June 1974: 47; “Vanguard Finishes Mahler
Cycle In Stereo & Quad,” Billboard, 8 March 1975: 43.
Abravanel’s recordings of the Second, Eighth, and Ninth were done before the critical editions
were available.
113
The box set did not receive separate reviews in 1976, perhaps because the market was quite saturated
and every recording from the set had been reviewed as it was released.
114
Abram Chipman, “Mahler: Symphonies: No. 1 in D; No. 5, in C sharp minor; No. 6, in A minor; No. 10,
in F sharp (Adagio only).,” High Fidelity 25/6 (June 1975): 98.
115
David Hall, “Gustav Mahler, Symphonist, in Utah,” Stereo Review 35 (October 1975): 105.
167
was the low price; Second, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Symphonies were released on
Vanguard’s budget label Cardinal, and First, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth Symphonies as well as
Adagio from the Tenth were released on the even lower-priced Everyman label.116
Individually, these recordings received mixed comments. The recording of
Mahler’s First was not particularly commended. Hall thought the tempo “carefully
gauged” but the performance as a whole “a little cool and distant” and “simply do not
come through with enough impact relative to the rest of the music’s vertical
component.”117 Chipman described the recording as uninspiring and criticized the
conductor’s decision not to take the repeat in the first movement.118 The uninteresting
feeling perhaps stems from Abravanel’s overall faster tempo than in other recordings,
which contributes to a sense of rush through the entire symphony without much time for
contemplation. The repeat between four measures after rehearsal 1 and rehearsal 12 (mm.
63–162) reveals the divide between different interpretations. Most other versions take the
repeat, such as Kubelik’s 1967 recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,
Bernstein’s 1966 recording with the New York Philharmonic, and Solti’s 1964 recording
with the London Symphony Orchestra. Some other recordings, such as Kubelik’s 1954
version with the Vienna Philharmonic and Haitink’s 1962 version with the
Concertgebouw Orchestra, skip the repeat. Abravanel marked in the score “Keine
Niederholung im Original (aber schon in 2. Ausgabe),” indicating that he did not hastily
116
Chipman, “Mahler: Symphonies: No. 1 in D; No. 5, in C sharp minor; No. 6, in A minor; No. 10, in F
sharp (Adagio only).”
117
Hall, “Gustav Mahler, Symphonist, in Utah.”
118
Chipman, “Mahler: Symphonies: No. 1 in D; No. 5, in C sharp minor; No. 6, in A minor; No. 10, in F
sharp (Adagio only).”
168
disregard the composer’s intent (see Figure 5.1.)119 It is however curious that, while the
maestro tried to follow the newest editions in many other instances, he reverted to the
earlier editions for the exposition repeats in the First and Sixth Symphonies.120
119
Symphony No. 1, p. 19. Gustav Mahler, 1860–1911, “Symphony No. 1, Movement I,” McKay Music
Library: Our Collections and Exhibits, accessed January 1, 2016,
http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/uu-asc/id/184.
Leonard Bernstein had the first edition and wrote in the repeats on pages 8 and 17. Gustav Mahler,
“Symphony No. 1,” score marked by Gustav Mahler, Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein, ARCHIVES0014,
New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives,
http://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/d629e8eb-d756-41d1-bf8d-7ad5d2c13cfc, accessed 31
December 2015.
120
These two repeats are rare examples in Mahler’s oeuvre. One wonders if Abravanel took into
consideration the composer’s overall style.
169
Figure 5.1: Abravanel’s score of Mahler’s First Symphony, first movement, mm. 56–70,
p. 19 (Courtesy of the Maurice Abravanel Studio, McKay Library, School of Music,
University of Utah)
170
The “strong, well-played” Fifth was much more welcomed than the First.121 Hall
emphasized how “contrapuntal complexities become very neatly unraveled in this
conductor’s predominantly light-handed approach.”122 Chipman particularly appreciated
Abravanel’s success in “clarifying much of the woodwind writing—e.g., the oboe
appoggiaturas at No. 2 of the Scherzo.” Overall, the conductor’s interpretation was “brisk”
and “fairly energetic.”123 Indeed, even though some passages seem rushed in the last
movement, the energy and excitement is sustained throughout the symphony, while the
fourth movement provides a beautiful, relaxing break. In 1976, this recording was chosen
as “the best Mahler recording [of 1975] released anywhere in the world” by the Gustav
Mahler Society USA. Other recordings in the pool included those by Herbert von Karajan
with the Vienna Philharmonic, James Levine with the Chicago Symphony, Leonard
Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic, and Leopold Stokowski with the London
Symphony Orchestra.124 The Society, also called the Gustav Mahler Society of California,
was founded in 1963–64 by Avik Gilboa and dissolved in 1982.125 Seiji Ozawa won the
award in 1981 for his recording of the Eighth Symphony with the Boston Symphony.126
121
Fred Pleibel, “LPs: Alla Breve,” Los Angeles Times, 14 September 1975.
122
Hall, “Gustav Mahler, Symphonist, in Utah.”
123
Chipman, “Mahler: Symphonies: No. 1 in D; No. 5, in C sharp minor; No. 6, in A minor; No. 10, in F
sharp (Adagio only).”
124
“Mahler symphony highlight of 1976 Festival series,” Santa Barbara News-Press, 10 July 1976,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
125
Edward R. Reilly, “Mahler in America,” in The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald Mitchell and
Andrew Nicholson (Oxford University Press, 2002), 434.
126
Program Book, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Season 1981–82, Week 19, p. 7,
http://worldcat.org/digitalarchive/content/server15982.contentdm.oclc.org/BSYMO/PROG/TRUSVolume9
/Pub411_1981-1982_BSO_Subscription_Wk19.pdf, accessed 22 December 2015.
171
Not much else detail could be found about this award, especially because the society
dissolved more than 30 years ago.
Abravanel’s reading of the Sixth was “conscientious” but could not compete with
Bernstein’s 1967 rendition with the New York Philharmonic.127 The drive in the
recording is evident, which accentuates the hysterical nature of the symphony, but the
mishaps of the orchestra in the Sixth are more distracting than in the Fifth and therefore
the recording as a whole is not as satisfying. Santa Barbara music critic Bert Willard
complimented this “awesome and magnificent” recording and considered it as “equal to
that of the Chicago Symphony and Georg Solti.”128 The skipping of the repeat was again
criticized by Chipman,129 who, although applauded the “good over-all shape and
momentum” of the first movement, the balance of the cowbells, and the “usually
excellent woodwinds” in the Scherzo, was unsatisfied with the finale that did not sustain
enough momentum.130 Pencil markings in Abravanel’s score might explain why the
conductor did not take the repeat between rehearsals 1 and 14 (mm. 6–127). As in his
other scores, Abravanel meticulously recorded the timings of several recordings as well
as Mahler’s own. As shown in Figure 5.2, Abravanel wrote down the composer’s
suggested timings for the four movements: “Mahler: 22 (con), 11, 14, 30 = 77 (73 senza
repeat 1. Satz).”131 Although these four numbers were given in the first version of the
127
Hall, “Gustav Mahler, Symphonist, in Utah.”
128
Bert Willard, “Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 is just as good as the 5th,” Santa Barbara News-Press, 2
August 1975, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
129
Most other versions, including Haitink’s, Bernstein’s, Kubelik’s, and Solti’s did take the repeat.
130
Chipman, “Mahler: Symphonies: No. 1 in D; No. 5, in C sharp minor; No. 6, in A minor; No. 10, in F
sharp (Adagio only).”
131
In Abravanel’s conducting scores, he often recorded timings of individual movements. On the page after
the title page, Abravanel recorded the timings of all four movements of Mahler, Abravanel himself, George
172
first edition, the duration “73 minutes without repeat in the first movement” was likely
calculated by the maestro himself, considering that the versions skipping the repeat were
about three to four minutes shorter than those taking the repeat. On page 24 of the score,
Abravanel crossed out the first ending (mm. 123–127) and wrote “No Boston, G.S.” on
the top of the page,132 indicating that two other recordings, Erich Leinsdorf’s 1965
recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and George Szell’s 1967 recording with
the Cleveland Orchestra, did not take the repeat (see Figure 5.3).133
Szell, Rafael Kubelík, and Erich Leinsdorf. Gustav Mahler, 1860–1911, “Symphony No. 6, III: Andante,”
McKay Music Library: Our Collections and Exhibits, http://mckaymusiclibrary.omeka.net/items/show/3,
accessed January 1, 2016.
Footnote 7 of David Matthews’s “The Sixth Symphony,” in The Mahler Companion, edited by
Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson (Oxford University Press, 1999), 371–372 confirms the timings
were indeed in the first edition.
132
The markings of “No Boston, G.S.” is on p. 24 of Abravanel’s score. Gustav Mahler, 1860–1911,
“Symphony No. 6, III: Andante,” McKay Music Library: Our Collections and Exhibits, accessed January 1,
2016, http://mckaymusiclibrary.omeka.net/items/show/3.
133
On page 24 of Mitropoulos’s score, he also crossed out the first ending. Gustav Mahler, “Symphony No.
6,” score marked by Dimitri Mitropoulos, New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives,
http://archives.nyphil.org/index.php/artifact/da7e19b9-5d7f-4e7f-b5a2-b8e732bdfc1d, accessed 31
December 2015.
173
Figure 5.2: Abravanel’s score of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, table of contents (Courtesy
of the Maurice Abravanel Studio, McKay Library, School of Music, University of Utah)
174
Figure 5.3: Abravanel’s score of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, first movement, mm. 121–
127, p. 24 (Courtesy of the Maurice Abravanel Studio, McKay Library, School of Music,
University of Utah)
The maestro’s markings suggest that he carefully considered the options and
chose to skip the repeat. Although it is impossible to know Abravanel’s reasons for not
taking the repeats in the First and Sixth Symphonies, his habit of notating timings of
various recordings reveals his sense of time and awareness of his place in relation to
other conductors. As described by Ardean Watts, the maestro paid close attention to how
much time a certain movement took: “He (Abravanel) came back after the fourth
movement—after the conclusion of the symphony—and he said ‘Forty minutes. Fortytwo minutes, sixty or something seconds.’” Watts suspected that, since Abravanel
considered himself an autodidact, the numbers of minutes and seconds provided a way to
evaluate his own conducting.134
Abravanel’s recording of the Adagio movement of the Tenth Symphony was
“cool, clear, and beautifully recorded” but the “cumulative effect of the whole” was
134
“Mahler Memories: Ardean Watts,” The Musician’s Lounge: Official Blog of the Utah Symphony,
http://www.utahsymphony.org/blog/2015/10/mahler-memories-ardean-watts/, accessed 19 January 2016.
175
lacking, especially in “those climactic episodes of eerie dissonance that point the way
toward Alban Berg beyond.”135 Indeed, Abravanel’s typically straightforward
interpretation offers a clear presentation of the structure. The tempi in the climax starting
at rehearsal 26 (m. 194) and a high point after it (mm. 293–298) are too slow to fuel the
passages with energy, and therefore the sense of urgency is missing. The weak climax
thus fails to provide enough contrast to make the ending sound serene. Chipman
nevertheless praised the recording for “differentiating the main tempo from the brief
andante of the opening (and repeated) viola melody,” well-managed dynamics, and
“telling” woodwind detail.136
In sum, despite the superior sound, the last four recordings offered conservative
readings. The goal of these recordings seemed more to complete the cycle than to break
new interpretive ground. Sound quality alone, unfortunately, could not compensate for
the unexciting readings, especially because four-track sound soon faced its decline in the
late 1970s and the market did not lack Mahler recordings. The finished cycle nonetheless
demonstrates that, although Abravanel and the Utah Symphony started recording
Mahler’s music without the intention of completing a cycle, the enthusiasm and support
for the project ultimately resulted in the first Mahler cycle recorded by one single
American orchestra.
135
Hall, “Gustav Mahler, Symphonist, in Utah.”
136
Chipman, “Mahler: Symphonies: No. 1 in D; No. 5, in C sharp minor; No. 6, in A minor; No. 10, in F
sharp (Adagio only).”
176
1975–1979: After the Mahler Cycle
Abravanel continued to program Mahler’s music in concerts (see Table 5.4) after
he had completed the cycle of recordings. The reviews of these concerts showed the local
community’s increased familiarity with the composer and confidence in Abravanel and
the Utah Symphony. Even though the more recent record reviews were not as fervent as
those in the mid-1960s, partly because the number of Mahler increased dramatically since
1960, the finished cycle was meaningful to the Utahn audience and the composer.137 On
the one hand, Abravanel’s deepening relationship with the community opened a door for
Mahler’s music; after all, the much-loved maestro admired this composer and had been
so relentlessly championed his music. On the other hand, the completed cycle and the
accompanying awards and recognitions motivated the local audience to appreciate
Mahler’s music. All in all, these last performances after the recordings sealed the Mahler
tradition in Utah.
Table 5.4: Performances of Mahler’s Music in Utah, 1975–1979
Date
March 29, 1975
(concert)
October 17, 19, 21,
1975
(guest conducting)
April 16, 1976
(concert)
Mahler works
Second Symphony
(Vocalists: JoAnn Ottley, soprano;
Christina Krooskos, contralto; Utah
Chorale, directed by J. Marlowe
Nielson and Virgil Camp)
First Symphony
Other works
Bach’s Concerto for Two
Violins
Seventh Symphony
Mozart’s Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik
137
(Abravanel conducted the
Honolulu Symphony)
Smoley’s Mahler discography listed 60 recordings of Mahler’s First to Ninth Symphonies in the 1970s
and 58 in the 1960s, as opposed to 27 in the 1950s and 5 in the 1930s and 1940s. Lewis M. Smoley, The
Symphonies of Gustav Mahler: A Critical Discography (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).
177
Table 5.4. Continued
February 19, 1977
(concert)
February 24, 1977
(West Coast tour)
September 19, 22
and October 8, 10,
14, 1977
(International tour)
September 21,
1977
(International tour)
December 8, 9,
1977
April 15, 1978
(concert)
First Symphony
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: JoAnn Ottley, soprano)
First Symphony
Fourth Symphony
(Soloist: JoAnn Ottley, soprano)
First Symphony
Kindertotenlieder
(Soloists: Maureen Forrester,
contralto)
Second Symphony
(Vocalists: JoAnn Ottley, soprano;
Christina Krooskos, contralto; Utah
Chorale, directed by Newell B.
Weight)
Adagietto of the Fifth Symphony
Eighth Symphony
(Vocalists: JoAnn Ottley, soprano;
Jean Hieronymi, soprano; Mariana
Paunova, contralto; Nina Hinson,
contralto and mezzo-soprano; Louis
Welcher, tenor; Hervey Hicks,
baritone; John Trout, bass; the
University Chamber Chorus,
directed by Bernell Hales;
University A Capella Choir,
directed by Newell B. Weight;
University Masterworks Chorus,
directed by Luis Welcher; Utah
Boys Choir and South High Girls
Choir, directed by Richard
Torgerson)
178
Beethoven’s Piano Concert
No. 3
(Encore: Adagietto of
Mahler’s Fifth Symphony
for September 20)
(Encore: Adagietto of
Mahler’s Fifth Symphony
and Handel’s Water Music)
Table 5.4. Continued
January 13, 1979
Third Symphony
(Vocalists: Mariana Paunova,
contralto; Ladies Ensemble from
Utah Chorale; Utah Boys Choir)
(Due to illness, the Boys’
Choir was replaced by
Women of the Utah
Masterworks Chorus. The
women choirs were
directed by Newell B.
Weight, Bonnie Winterton,
and Edgar Thompson.)
The 1975 performance of Mahler’s Second was warmly received.138 The Deseret
News critic Harold Lundstrom described Abravanel’s interpretation as “keenly and
intelligently felt, planned as a whole” and stated that the Utah Symphony “contributed
some fine tone.”139 The contralto Christina Krooskos “sang her role . . . with a beautiful
cool tone that was well controlled,”140 and the soprano JoAnn Ottley was “fine, as
usual.”141 The Utah Chorale was “a winner all the way.”142 Furthermore, the personal
connection between Mahler’s music and local musicians had been formed and recognized.
While Lundstrom described Abravanel’s interpretation as “obviously the outcome of a
shatteringly personal and positive conception of the work,”143 Beck stated that Abravanel
138
In the 1974–1975 season, Abravanel emphasized works that were less familiar, such as Liszt’s
Rhapsodie Espagnole and works by Schoenberg and Ives. When asked about the programming of the
season, Abravanel replied, “This year, we have the Bruckner Ninth, so we have no Mahler.” When the
interviewer mentioned the concert scheduled on March 29, which included Mahler’s Second, he said, “Oh,
that doesn’t count. That’s repertoire.” Abravanel’s words quoted in David L. Beck, “Symphony readies
28th season under Abravanel,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 October 1974.
139
Harold Lundstrom, “How should Mahler be handled?” Deseret News, 31 March 1975, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 78.
140
Ibid.
141
David L. Beck, “Symphony Concert Fine Easter Gift,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 March 1975,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
142
Lundstrom, “How should Mahler be handled?”
143
Ibid.
179
“simply cares more deeply for this music, and is able to communicate that commitment to
his musicians”144 and that the Utah Symphony played especially well when it played
Mahler. In October 1975, Abravanel brought an all-Mahler program, including the First
Symphony and the Adagio of the Tenth Symphony, to Honolulu, Hawaii; this time he
conducted the local orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony.145
On April 16, 1976, Mahler’s Seventh Symphony was performed for the second
and last time during Abravanel’s directorship. In his program notes, Lowell Durham
mentioned the completed “deluxe 14-record set” Mahler cycle, the 1975 “Best Mahler
Recording” award for the recording of the Fifth, Abravanel’s participation in the
“ascendance of Mahler’s works,” and the maestro’s plan to perform all of Mahler’s
symphonies. The performance of Mahler’s Seventh was welcomed but not a resounding
success like some other concerts. According to the Deseret News critic Lundstrom,
Abravanel’s reading was “sensible,” and the orchestra “played intently and well.”146 The
nature of the Seventh Symphony, however, remained hard to comprehend for the listeners;
Lundstrom wondered if the work was “an embarrassment to even the most devout
Mahlerite,” resulting in the infrequent performances of the work. The Salt Lake Tribune
critic David Beck similarly commended the concert but wrote that the performance was
144
Beck, “Symphony Concert Fine Easter Gift.”
145
Abravanel’s newly-completed Mahler cycle was mentioned in the press prior to the concert and
Abravanel was called “one of the foremost American Mahler specialists.” (Janos Gereben, “Abravanel
Here to …,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 15 October 1975, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.) Overall the
orchestra displayed great control, which, according to one critic, seemed to be due to Abravanel’s
conducting “one-handed technique”—“both tempo and cues are signaled by the baton, with the left hand
called into play only in those rare instances when ‘everything has to get going.’” Howard Driver,
“Symphony at its best: Mahler under control,” Honolulu Advertiser, 20 October 1975, Abravanel Papers,
Ms 517, Box 78.
146
Harold Lundstrom, “The problem of Mahler’s ‘Symphony No. 7,’” Deseret News, 17 April 1976,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
180
“disjointed.” Although Beck suggested that the traits of the work—“nightmare,” “ugly,”
“not pretty,” and “not even satisfying”—were what Mahler intended, the concert was not
as successful as he had hoped, hinted by Beck’s lukewarm praise—“it was rarely boring
and frequently disturbing, and perhaps that is not a bad way to end a season.”147
This concert opened the planned Mahler concert cycle, which would extend in the
following two years and with five works chosen for the 1976–1977 season.148
Unfortunately, Abravanel’s health and triple bypass heart surgery in November 1976
changed the plan. Several Mahler concerts had to be canceled and rescheduled. Ardean
Watts filled in for Abravanel but did not conduct Mahler’s works. Despite his illness,
between March 1975 and his retirement in April 1979, Abravanel managed to perform
most of Mahler’s symphonies, including the First, Second, Third, Fourth, the Adagietto
of the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, and Adagio of the Tenth Symphony (See Table 5.4).
Three months after his heart surgery, Abravanel returned to the podium with yet
another all-Mahler program, featuring the First and Fourth Symphonies on February 19,
147
David L. Beck, “Utah Symphony Ends Season With Night Music,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 April
1976.
148
Lowell Durham, Program Notes, 16 April 1976, 494, 496. Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 37.
The five works were scheduled to perform in three concerts: the Fifth Symphony and the Adagio
of the Tenth Symphony on January 10, 1977; the First and Fourth Symphonies on January 21, 1977; and
the Sixth Symphony on February 19, 1977. (“Local favorites, new artists highlight Symphony 1976–77,”
The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 April 1976.) The only program that was performed was the one originally
scheduled for January 21, and the First and Fourth Symphonies were moved to February 19. Mahler’s Sixth
Symphony, due to this change, was never performed during Abravanel’s directorship.
For other concerts, associate conductor Ardean Watts filled in but Mahler’s works were always
replaced by other works. For example, on January 21, 1977, Watts conducted a concert with a program of
“everybody’s favorites,” including Benjamin Britten’s Variation and Fugue on a Theme by Purcell,
Respighi’s The Fountains of Rome, Grieg’s Symphonic Dances Nos. 1 and 4, and Shostakovich’s
Symphony No. 1. “This week, symphony to play ‘everybody’s favorites,’” The Salt Lake Tribune, 16
January 1977.
181
1977. Abravanel returned “heroically and triumphantly.”149 He received two standing
ovations—once when he walked on the stage and once after the performance.150 The
orchestra’s performance was “superb” in the First Symphony, and the only minor
weakness of the Fourth Symphony was Ottley’s singing, which was, according to
Lundstrom, too “mature” to “rise and fall with child-like effortless ease in the child’s
description of heaven.”151 In his concert review, David Beck reported his regret for the
loss of Mahler performances that were originally planned and recounted the past
performances of Mahler, revealing his liking for and familiarity with Mahler’s works.
Similar to Lundstrom’s view, Beck thought that Ottley’s singing in the Fourth was “with
perhaps more restraint than would have liked.”152 Following this concert, the Utah
Symphony went on tour to southern California and Las Vegas.153 Mahler’s First and
Fourth Symphonies were performed at the Ambassador College auditorium in Pasadena,
California. The Utah Symphony succeeded in portraying “the intricate subtleties of mood
and mechanics of the Fourth.”154 Ottley’s singing had “a fine Mahlerian quality for the
149
Harold Lundstrom, “Maurice Abravanel returns ‘heroically,’” Deseret News, 21 February 1977,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
150
David L. Beck, “Abravanel Returns for a Night of Mahler,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 21 February 1977,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
151
Lundstrom, “Maurice Abravanel returns ‘heroically.’”
152
Beck, “Abravanel Returns for a Night of Mahler.”
153
Originally Abravanel was scheduled to conduct a “three-concert Mahler Festival” on this tour, but his
previous surgery and health again disrupted the plan for performing Mahler’s works. (Richard Stiles, “Utah
Symphony maestro going strong,” Pasadena Star-News, 27 February 1977.) Abravanel ended up
conducting three concerts and Watts conducted six in this ten-day tour. “Symphony tours Mahler,” The Salt
Lake Tribune, 20 February 1977.
154
Fred Pleibel, “Utah Symphony at Ambassador,” Los Angeles Times, 26 February 1977, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 76.
182
haunting, joyful ‘Himmlische Leben.’”155 The orchestra’s performance in the First
Symphony had some “ragged entrances, muffed cutoffs, some fluffs by the winds and
even more just plain noise than Mahler wrote into his youthful collection of agonies and
blisses,”156 but overall it “came through more splendidly.”157 After his first and only
leave of absence in his thirty years in Utah, the well-respected, well-loved conductor
resumed his central role in the musical life of Salt Lake City with his favorite composer
and was passionately welcomed.
Despite his recent health problems, Abravanel led the Utah Symphony on the
fourth international tour after the end of the 1976–1977 season. On this one-month tour
from September 16 to October 15, the Utah Symphony traveled to Greece, Austria,
Germany, and Spain.158 Mahler’s First Symphony was performed in Greece and Spain,
and Kindertotenlieder performed in Athens. When Mahler’s First Symphony was played
on September 19 in Athens, the orchestra received “lavish applause.”159 On September 21,
the acclaimed Mahler singer, Maureen Forrester, sang Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with
the Utah Symphony. Forrester was particularly praised: “mothers wept, spectators burst
into applause and even the orchestra members themselves were moved to cheer.”160 In
155
Richard Stiles, “Utah Symphony maestro going strong,” Pasadena Star-News, 27 February 1977.
156
Pleibel, “Utah Symphony at Ambassador.”
157
Stiles, “Utah Symphony maestro going strong.”
158
Besides the performance on September 19, described below, Mahler’s First Symphony was also
performed in Salonika, Greece, Abravanel’s birthplace, on September 22; in Madrid, Spain on October 8;
in Valencia, Spain on October 10; and in Barcelona, Spain on October 14. Booklet, 4th International Tour,
Europe, 1977, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 26.
159
Some orchestra members thought the applause was for the pianist, Vasso Devetzi, performing
Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 3 in the same concert. David L. Beck, “Concerts Over, More to Come,”
The Salt Lake Tribune, 23 September 1977.
160
David L. Beck, “With Utah Symphony: A Big Night for Canadian,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 23
September 1977.
183
response to the enthusiastic audience’s request, Abravanel chose the Adagietto of
Mahler’s Fifth Symphony as encore on both nights.161
When the new season opened in Utah, two concerts featured Mahler’s works,
starting with an all-Mahler program in December, 1977. Prior to the concerts, the press
recounted numerous achievements of the orchestra, including the completed Mahler cycle,
recent Europe tour, and the prosperous recording career, portraying a blooming orchestra
established in multiple media worldwide.162 The concert in Salt Lake City was
enthusiastically received, with only one complaint about the placement of an intermission
between the second and third movements of the Second Symphony. The Deseret News
critic William Goodfellow reminisced about the Utah Symphony’s 1960 performance of
Mahler’s Second Symphony and Bernard Jacobson’s review of Abravanel’s recording of
the same work in High Fidelity, reaffirming that Mahler had been one of the local
favorites and the Utah Symphony had been accepted by outside critics. According to
Goodfellow, the concert, with the “better integrated” tempo and the better “instrumental
textures,” was even better than the highly praised recording. Abravanel was hailed as the
“real hero,” who “somehow managed to maintain concentration and intensity throughout
the grueling 90-minute length of this symphony.”163 The Salt Lake Tribune critic Ernest
Ford similarly embraced the performance, except for the difficulty to hear the soloists in
161
One encore was played on September 19, and two encores, together with Handel’s Water Music, were
played on September 21.
162
The Ogden concert was “warmly received.” The success was attributed to the “compassion and splendid
voice” of Krooskos, the “clear, fluent voice” of Ottley, the “crisp” direction of Abravanel, and the orchestra
and chorale that deserved to be “heard more often in this area.” The “glowing triumphant” ending, “a
majestic conclusion,” should have “made several more converts to the growing group which is coming to
recognize that Mahler is one of the great masters.” Ray Wight, “Mahler Program Warmly Received,”
Ogden Standard Examiner, 9 December 1977.
163
William S. Goodfellow, “A glorious ‘Resurrection,’” Deseret News, 10 December 1977, Abravanel
Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
184
the Second Symphony, the “missed entrances and poor phrasing” in the Adagietto
movement of the Fifth Symphony, and again the timing of the intermission. The orchestra
performed well in Mahler’s Second, in particular the trombone, trumpet, and French horn
principals. Ford complimented the overall performance of the evening as well as
recognized Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s establishment in interpreting Mahler’s
music: “The Utah Symphony, thanks to the perceptive leadership by Maestro Abravanel,
interprets the German’s works as well as any group in the world.”164
Mahler’s Eighth Symphony closed the 1977–1978 season. As was the case for the
Seventh Symphony, this was the second and last performance of the work. The total
number of performers employed was only close to 500, with 375 in the choruses and 100
in the orchestra, plus the eight soloists and one conductor. Even though the number of
performers was much smaller than the 1963 performance (500 versus 900), the concert
was again a community event; a critic reported that “[a]bout 47% [of the local] musicians
will join forces” with the Utah Symphony.165 Different from the symphony’s 1963
performance, in which only one soloist (Blanche Christensen) was from Utah, this time
four soloists were affiliated with the community. The Salt Laker Ottley had been a
familiar face for the local audience, Hieronymi was musically trained in Salt Lake City
and sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a soloist, and Welcher and Hicks were
teaching at the University of Utah.
Conducting this challenging and massive work was not easy; during the
intermission, Abravanel was “seating in his dressing room, soaking wet, bare-chested,
164
Ernest Ford, “Utah Symphony at Tabernacle: Fine interpretation of Mahler,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 11
December 1977, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
165
Paul Wetzel, “Mahler 8th,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 April 1978, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 124.
185
drying himself with a towel.” Yet, after the intermission, he was “completely revived as
he ran the obstacle course to the podium” for the second half.166 The concert was met
with a burst of cheering at the end; some in the audience were “in tears” and again Salt
Lake City was turned into a “Mahler center.”167 As the audience and performers called
the conductor back to the podium for more applause, he “held the score high over his
head and faced the audience” to share the honor with the composer. The performance was
by no means perfect; there were a minor disconnected moment between two choruses and
an error in the trumpet part,168 and the pacing of the second movement seemed “stretched”
and “without concomitant tension.”169 Nonetheless, the orchestra made Mahler’s music
“sometimes ethereal, sometimes bizarre, but withal endearing instrumental effects.”170
The children’s choirs were “particularly moving both for the lyrical quality of the music
and the overall tone of the voices”; the adult choruses were well prepared, and the
orchestra was “effective at both ends of the tremendous dynamic range demanded by the
composer”; and the soloists, in particular Ottley, sang well.171 Although Abravanel’s
interpretation was not specifically discussed in these reviews, it was clear that the
audience attended Mahler concerts with familiarity and excitement.
166
Lowell M Durham, Abravanel! (Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1989), 179.
167
John Schow, “Abravanel’s Mahler Miracle,” Utah Holiday (June 1978): 71, Abravanel Papers, Ms 517,
Box 78.
168
Paul Wetzel, “Massive Mahler Eighth Concert Succeeds,” The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 April 1978,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
169
William S. Goodfellow, “Mahler 8th ends Symphony season with joy,” Deseret News, 17 April 1978,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 78.
170
Ibid.
171
Wetzel, “Massive Mahler Eighth Concert Succeeds.”
186
On January 13, 1979, Abravanel conducted Mahler’s Third Symphony; although
the symphony was recorded and released in 1969, this was the local premiere of the work.
The contralto, Mariana Paunova, sang at the 1978 performance of Mahler’s Eighth
Symphony and would return to sing in the maestro’s final concert. Although some minor
mistakes were heard in the orchestra—“muddled attacks, discrepancies in the unity of the
ensemble, missed notes”—they did not affect the “sometimes brilliant execution
elsewhere” and the conductor’s “uncommon affinity for and understanding” of Mahler’s
music.172 Paunova’s singing created “a rich, well-sustained vocal line punctuated by
clean German diction” in the fourth movement that characterized “[a] feeling of austerity
and isolation.”173 Replacing the boys’ choir with a women’s ensemble was the best option
but not ideal, because the contrast between the voices of women and boys was lost.174
Both critics from the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune agreed that the Adagio in
the finale, which “emerged here as the musical embodiment of the divine peace the
composer privately sought,” was the most successful and moving part of the
performance.175 This concert would become the last of Abravanel’s Mahler performances.
Because of experiencing fatigue more and more often, Abravanel decided that it was time
to retire. On April 4, Abravanel told the assistant conductor Ardean Watts his decision of
stepping down; two days later he made the formal resignation announcement at a press
172
Paul Wetzel, “Despite Flaws, Mahler 3rd Makes a Distinguished Utah Debut,” The Salt Lake Tribune,
n.d., Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 79.
173
Ibid.
174
Ibid.
175
William S. Goodfellow, “Sublimity caps overdue Mahler 3rd,” Deseret News, 15 January 1979,
Abravanel Papers, Ms 517, Box 79.
187
conference.176 Watts’s resignation soon followed.177 Abravanel ended his conducting
career on April 21, 1979, with yet another choral-symphonic work: Verdi’s Requiem.
Had Abravanel known that he would retire after the season, he might have programmed
another work by Mahler to close the season and his conducting career.
Conclusion
After the exciting reception of Abravanel’s first two Mahler recordings, he
continued recording Mahler’s symphonies between 1967 and 1974. Each of these
recordings told different aspects of the Utah story and its context. The recordings of the
Second and Fourth showed the orchestra’s connection with vocalists and the rising status
of the composer. Those of the Third and Ninth highlighted the technical superiority in
this series of recordings. The use of a new technology, quadraphonic sound, again
demonstrated Vanguard’s willingness to take a risk, as it had done with blacklisted folk
musicians and underperformed works.
After the completion of the cycle, Abravanel continued programming Mahler in
Utah and on tour. These last performances again showed the maestro’s passion for and
commitment to Mahler’s music. The local audience and critics became familiar with the
composer. They compared current performances to past ones or recordings; they now had
a Mahler history which they could recount. Even though the Utah Symphony’s concerts
were not always perfect, the reviews showed that the community was proud of the
176
Durham, Abravanel!, 177.
177
Watts’s relationship with Abravanel went beyond professional; he drove Abravanel to and from
rehearsals for twenty-one years. He resigned from the Utah Symphony one month after Abravanel’s
resignation and returned to teaching full time at the University of Utah. See more details in Lowell M.
Durham, “Right Arm,” in Abravanel!, 153–162.
188
orchestra’s achievement, embraced the maestro’s accomplishments, and recognized
Mahler as a local favorite.
Abravanel and the Utah Symphony’s Mahler journey also revealed the reception
of Mahler in America. When they set out to record Mahler’s symphonies in the 1960s,
the recordings were embraced by the Mahler community and part of the first waves that
invited more conductors and orchestras to enter Mahler’s musical world. As time passed,
the ardent reception of the first two recordings was replaced with the sometimes
welcoming and sometimes tepid reception of the later recordings, indirectly
demonstrating Mahler’s firmly established status and thus the quickly increasing number
of Mahler recordings. When Abravanel’s Mahler recording project was completed, it
served as an alternative to the “mainstream” recordings from, for example, Bernstein,
with competitive price and sound. Although the Utah Symphony’s Mahler adventure lost
its initial importance to the Mahler circle, it gained significance to the Utah community
and documented the orchestra’s growth. Furthermore, the journey turned the composer
into a local favorite in Utah, to which concert announcements, program notes, and
reviews attested.
189
CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSION
“I think of Maurice as a kind of high priest. And Mahler’s the Bible. You know
he knew how Mahler’s genius was the genius of transforming the angst, the misery of
national, international and personal into a kind of redemptive sound. The sounds can
growl and suggest horror and cataclysm and everything, which is all there, but when it
comes out, it doesn’t come out that way. It comes out. You want to be there. You want to
experience it because there is some redemption in it, and maybe that’s what the musical
experience is about.”
— Ardean Watts, Abravanel’s associate conductor and close friend1
The invocation of “high priest” here is telling. In the Mormon Church, a high priest is
“appointed to lead the church” and “to teach the commandments of God.”2 By using this
term, Watts portrayed Abravanel’s interpretation of Mahler’s music as something sacred.
In a different interview, Watts also stated that hearing Abravanel’s Mahler made him feel
that he had been to church.3
Watts was not the only one who experienced an almost religious experience
playing Mahler’s music under Abravanel. Lynette Stewart, violin player for 46 years at
the Utah Symphony, described a soulful, all-consuming experience:
In Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, there are moments where Abravanel would
just go into the spheres. It was hardly conducting; he’d close his eyes, and his face
would go to the ceiling. It was so descriptive.
He brought all the love he had for that music, and all the tradition, and
great soulfulness. You don’t always hear that in other recordings and
performances. He was so passionate that he would get wrapped up in what
everyone was doing. He wasn’t technically telling you what to do, but he just got
everyone wrapped up in this Mahler experience. It was remarkable. It was
exhausting for me at first, because I didn’t understand everything he was trying to
1
“Mahler Memories: Ardean Watts,” The Musician’s Lounge: Official Blog of the Utah Symphony,
http://www.utahsymphony.org/blog/2015/10/mahler-memories-ardean-watts/, accessed 19 January 2016.
2
“High Priest,” The Joseph Smith Papers, http://josephsmithpapers.org/topic/high-priest, accessed 22 April
2016.
3
Phone interview with author, 18 January 2016.
190
do or how he was trying to do it or what it was all about. But looking back on it I
realize how tremendous that experience was. I have never recovered from that, it
doesn’t go away after all these years. I don’t forget that experience with him.4
Seymour Solomon similarly admired the maestro. Years after working with Abravanel,
Solomon gave Watts and his wife concert tickets, when they visited him in New York, to
the New York Philharmonic but did not go along, because, according to Solomon, the
musicians sounded pale compared to Abravanel.5 Previous chapters have shown the
warm reception from local newspapers. The two Utah music critics, Lowell Durham and
Conrad Harrison, remained champions of the orchestra and each produced a book-length
publication on the maestro and the orchestra in 1989 and 1986, respectively. These
memories and events demonstrate how the shared experience of playing Mahler’s music
touched the musicians and formed a strong network around Abravanel and Mahler.
The story of Abravanel’s complete Mahler recordings did not end with the
maestro’s retirement. They have been reissued onto different formats, which continued to
reflect technological advancement and kept the recordings in circulation. In 1986,
Vanguard Records was sold to the Welk Record Group in California, but Seymour
Solomon bought back the classical department in 1992.6 Solomon then started reissuing
old recordings with his other company, Omega, “using the original analogue tapes as
4
“Mahler Memories: Lynette Stewart,” The Musician’s Lounge: Official Blog of the Utah Symphony,
http://www.utahsymphony.org/blog/2015/10/mahler-memories-lynette-stewart/, accessed 19 January 2016.
5
Phone interview with author, 18 January 2016.
6
Jerome F. Weber, “Vanguard,” Oxford Music Online, www.oxfordmusiconline.com, accessed 22
December 2014. However, the years were different in an obituary of Seymour Solomon: “In 1985 Mr.
Solomon and his brother sold Vanguard to the Welk Record Group. Three years later, Seymour Solomon
opened a new company, Omega Classics, and in 1990 he bought back from Welk Vanguard’s old classical
catalog. He reissued Vanguard's original catalog on compact discs under the Omega and Vanguard Classics
labels.” Ari L. Goldman, “Seymour Solomon, 80, Record Label Founder,” The New York Times, 19 July
2002.
191
masters,” and his plan was to “go back to his first releases, from 1950, and would reissue
recordings carrying such names as Leopold Stokowski, Sir Adrian Boult, Willi
Boskovsky and Maurice Abravanel, whose Mahler with the Utah Symphony will be high
on the list of releases, with the complete cycle scheduled for release in the fall.”7
Abravanel’s complete Mahler cycle was indeed reissued as an 11-CD boxed set in the
1990s.
In 2004 and 2005, Silverline Classics reissued the Utah Symphony’s recordings of
Mahler’s symphonies onto yet another format—DVD-Audio, providing options for
stereophonic and surround sound; the dual-disc version is playable on both sides—one
side is a CD and the other side a DVD. An announcement about these reissues revisited
the glory of Abravanel’s Mahler recordings: “The Vanguard catalogue, carefully nurtured
in the Sixties and Seventies by the label’s founder-directors, the brothers Maynard and
Seymour Solomon, contains the important legacy of discs made with the Utah Symphony
under its chief conductor Maurice Abravanel.”8 The announcement also quoted Jeff Dean,
president of Silverline Records, explaining that Solomon and the engineers “did some
great work recording in four channels, for example, and were always pushing the
boundaries . . . We can deliver the same sound quality on DVD-A that the engineers
heard when these recordings were made.”9
7
Gerald Gold, “For Vanguard: To the Rear, March!: The Label’s Founder Has Bought Back the Classical
Catalogue; Reissues Will Include Mahler,” The New York Times, 27 May 1990.
8
“Silverline Rolls Out DVD-As,” Music Week, 10 July 2004.
Although the announcement suggested that the original plan was to release all symphonies, only
the first six symphonies are currently available.
9
Dean’s words quoted in “Silverline Rolls Out DVD-As.”
192
Reviews of these reissues recognized their significance and pointed out the lack of
attention to the recordings. Gerald Fox’s 1996 review in American Record Guide
affirmed Abravanel’s interpretation and described his style as “restrained,” similar to
reviews from the 1960s:
Abravanel, though lesser-known as a Mahler conductor than Bernstein, Walter,
Horenstein, Solti, Tennstedt, and many others, was no less a Mahler crusader and
deserves a place in the sun. His way with Mahler is more restrained than the
others, and I do prefer the more emotional approach, but Abravanel's musicality,
taste, and sympathy for the symphonies is beyond reproach; and he had honed the
Utah Symphony into a remarkable ensemble.10
The view that Abravanel’s interpretation of Mahler’s works was valuable but lacked
excitement continued into later reviews of the DVD-As. Christopher Abbot, music critic
in the Fanfare magazine, explained that other conductors such as Haitink, Kubelik, Solti,
and Tennstedt, had “joined the fray” by the time Abravanel recorded the First Symphony.
The “relative neglect of Abravanel,” Abbot explained, was “a pity, because his Mahler is
characterized by insight, audio fidelity, and a distinct lack of hysteria (which, it must be
said, can make some of his interpretations somewhat bland by comparison to his more
demonstrative peers).”11 In yet another review, Abbot admitted that he did not prefer
Abravanel’s versions: “In general, though I appreciate Maestro Abravanel’s efforts to
present a Mahler shorn of neuroses, I think he often misses a chance to inject a bit of
dramatic tension into the proceedings.”12 Abbot’s description of Abravanel’s
interpretation of Mahler recalled the maestro’s view that he did not need to make Mahler
10
Gerald Fox, “Guide to Records,” American Record Guide (January 1996), 136–137.
11
Christopher Abbot, “Mahler: Symphony No. 1,” Fanfare 28/1 (September 2004), 154.
12
Christopher Abbot, “Mahler: Symphony No. 2, ‘Resurrection’ &; Symphony No. 4 &,” Fanfare 28/6
(July 2005), 161.
193
more Mahler and the phenomenon that Bernstein’s interpretation exercised strong
influence on the conductors after him.
Technologically the DVD-A versions were received with enthusiasm, especially
because of the multiple options of sound quality. Although these reissued were not by
Seymour Solomon, his choice of using advanced recording technology allowed later
engineers to extract the sound for newer media. The DVD-As, including extra documents
such as “archive photographs, letters and filmed interviews with musicians who worked
with Abravanel,” aimed to attract both audiophiles, researchers like myself, and
“straightforward classical consumers.”13 Furthermore, the new format made Abravanel’s
Mahler accessible to modern listeners across the globe. On the whole, the reception of the
reissues echoed that of the originals. While these recordings were welcomed for their
technological merits and low prices, the maestro’s relative musical restraint disappointed
some critics.
The ongoing two-season Mahler cycle (2014–2016) at the Utah Symphony once
again reflects Abravanel’s lasting impact. Besides the concerts in Salt Lake City, the
Utah Symphony recorded Mahler’s First Symphony under Thierry Fischer, and that of
the Eighth is scheduled to come out in 2017. The recording of the First, released by an
audiophile label (Reference Recordings), received reviews reminiscent of those for
Abravanel—although the recording could not “erase memories of Berlin, Vienna or the
Concertgebouw,” the orchestra “sounds good in all departments, with some soloists
highlighted to outstanding effect.” The sound is again a strong selling point: “[f]ans of
the work can purchase with confidence, especially if you want to hear inner details and a
13
“Silverline Rolls Out DVD-As.”
194
more reflective version than many.”14 The McKay Music Library has been digitizing the
maestro’s Mahler scores and interviewing musicians to document their memories about
performing Mahler’s works under the baton of Abravanel. At the time of this writing, the
Ninth is awaiting performance and more materials are being uploaded onto the music
library’s and the Utah Symphony’s websites. These invaluable primary sources preserve
Utah’s oral history and enrich the understanding of Abravanel and the Utah Symphony.
While the dissertation has focused on Abravanel’s Mahler performances and
recording, the Mahler cycle was only part of Abravanel’s contributions to the Utah
Symphony. He also fought for the musicians’ salaries, opportunities to tour abroad, and
making many other recordings with the musicians. Abravanel expanded the orchestra’s
season from 20 weeks to 52 weeks and took the orchestra onto four international tours.
He helped establish the Utah ballet and opera (which Ardean Watts later took over), so
the orchestra musicians could have more work. In Watts’s words, “Abravanel spent a lot
of time inventing work for them to do.”15 Through the maestro’s efforts, the funding for
the orchestra’s hall was tied in a bond election and passed with 58 percent of support.16
The hall was completed in 1979, after Abravanel retired, and later renamed “Abravanel
Hall” in 1993, although the maestro never conducted there.17
14
Anthony Kershaw, “Thierry Fischer conducts the Utah Symphony in Mahler 1 on Reference Recordings,”
Audiophilia, http://www.audiophilia.com/reviews/2016/2/16/thierry-fischer-conducts-the-utah-symphonyin-mahler-1-on-reference-recordings?rq=mahler, accessed 27 February 2016.
15
Phone interview with author, 18 January 2016.
16
Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel, Oral History of American Music, Yale
University, Interviewer: Deborah Bookspan Margol, and Martin Bookspan 219 ff–oo, pp. 124–125.
17
“About Maurice Abravanel Hall,” Utah Symphony, http://www.utahsymphony.org/the-orchestra/80about-abravanel-hall, accessed 27 January 2016.
195
Mahler nonetheless occupied a unique place in Abravanel’s lifetime achievement.
His obituary in The New York Times, written by Alex Ross in 1993, highlighted several
key aspects addressed of his career: his leadership of the Utah Symphony, his promoting
underrepresented works, and their Mahler cycle. The long excerpt from Ross fittingly
summarized Abravanel’s career in Utah:
In 1947, he took up the appointment at the Utah Symphony and began
building a minor orchestra into a widely respected ensemble. Concert music was
not an active feature of the state's musical life at that time, but Mr. Abravanel
made it so, reaching out to rural communities and eventually making the orchestra
so popular that Utah achieved the highest per-capita attendance at symphony
concerts of any state.
Tellingly, he accomplished this with a repertory liberally stocked with
20th-century works, by Weill, Bloch, Honegger, Varese and his close friend
Milhaud. Once he began his long and active recording career with Vanguard, he
continued this emphasis, making the first recordings of Honegger’s “Judith” and
“King David.” He also conducted ballet and opera, winning a Tony Award for his
work in Marc Blitzstein’s “Regina.”
His Mahler cycle gave him the broadest fame of his career, perhaps owing
to a psychedelic marketing strategy at Vanguard that once used the slogan
“Mahler Is Heavy.” But his interpretations were serious and well disciplined,
somewhat too speedy for many listeners’ tastes but a welcome contrast to the
more flamboyant readings of Leonard Bernstein. This cycle is still the only one
recorded entirely with an American orchestra.18
Even at the time of his death, then, Abravanel’s Mahler endeavors provided a significant
angle from which to view his legacy and the intricate connections between music
reception and local history.
18
Alex Ross, “Maurice Abravanel, 90, Utah Symphony Leader,” The New York Times, 23 September 1993,
http://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/23/obituaries/maurice-abravanel-90-utah-symphony-leader.html,
accessed 17 January 2016.
196
Future Directions
As Mahler continued to gain popularity in America and abroad, more conductors
gravitated towards his music in concert and recordings, including Benjamin Zander, Seiji
Ozawa, Simon Rattle, and Michael Tilson Thomas. However, the public and scholarly
attention is often given to famed conductors as listed above and prestigious orchestras
like those in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. These cities are perhaps more of
exceptions than representations of America. Without the help of the most privileged
musicians, conductors, and recording companies, cities like Salt Lake City have to turn to
any resource possible and consider a combination of factors, including the local
community’s musical resources, the demand or opening of the market, the orchestra’s
desire to demonstrate musical achievement, etc. To emphasize the influence in the
extramusical context is not to diminish the importance of musical content but rather to
explicate the close relationship between music and the society in which music resides.
Through examining cities alike or other regional orchestras, we can broaden the
discussion of the reception history of Mahler in America and better comprehend the
connections among music, social, technological, and cultural history.
This dissertation opens up new possibilities for understanding the strategic
programming and recording by American orchestras. Through recording Mahler, the
Utah Symphony established an international presence. As discussed in Chapter 3, the
Louisville Orchestra’s recording-based new music project also drew national publicity.
At a time when more orchestras are facing financial difficulties, such models of
innovation are increasingly valuable. Through recording Mahler’s symphonies Abravanel
secured more income for his musicians, developing out-of-state audiences for a regional
197
orchestra. Abravanel’s timing proved crucial; Mahlerites and audiophiles welcomed these
recordings. As the recording market is transforming, streaming offers new alternatives
and challenges for orchestras; the Utah Symphony’s 2015 recording of Mahler’s First
Symphony, for example, is available to a wide audience on Naxos and Spotify. Four
decades after the completion of the Utah Symphony’s Mahler cycle, its story is still worth
consideration as other symphony orchestras are looking for creative ways to survive and
thrive.
198
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Primary Sources
Durham, Lowell. “Lowell Durham, Salt Lake City, Utah: An Interview by Winnifred
Margetts.” Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project. Tape Nos. U-441 and U-442.
27 March 1986.
Major Figures in American Music: Maurice Abravanel. Oral History of American Music.
Yale University. Interviewer: Deborah Bookspan Margol. 1985-1986.
Maurice Abravanel Papers, Ms 517. Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah,
J. Willard Marriott Library. Salt Lake City, Utah.
McKay Music Library: Our Collections and Exhibits. School of Music. University of
Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Utah Symphony Archive. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Websites and Online Databases/Archives
American Federation of Musicians. http://www.afm.org/.
American Radio History. http://www.americanradiohistory.com/.
League of American Orchestras. http://www.americanorchestras.org/.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir. http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/.
New York Philharmonic Digital Archives. http://archives.nyphil.org/.
Newspaper Archive. http://newspaperarchive.com/.
ProQuest. http://search.proquest.com/.
The Bruckner Society of America. http://www.abruckner.com/.
Utah Symphony. http://www.utahsymphony.org/.
Scores
Mahler, Gustav. Adagio from Symphony No. 10. Universal Edition, 2010.
________. Symphony No. 1 and 2. New York: Dover Press, 1987.
199
________. Symphony No. 3 and 4. New York: Dover Press, 1989.
________. Symphony No. 5. Melville, NY: Belwin Mills, n.d.
________. Symphony No. 6. Leipzig: C. F. Kahnt, 1906.
________. Symphony No. 7. Ed. Hans Redlich. Leipzig; Vienna: Eulenburg, 1969.
________. Symphony No. 7. Ed. Erwin Ratz. Vienna; London: Universal Edition, n.d.
________. Symphony No. 7. New York: Dover Press, 2012.
________. Symphony No. 8. Gustav Mahler Sämtliche Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe,
Band VIII. Vienna: Universal Edition, 1977.
________. Symphony No. 9. New York: Dover Press, 1993.
Recordings
Mahler, Gustav. Gustav Mahler: The Complete Symphonies. Leonard Bernstein, the New
York Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Sony, SX12K 89499,
2001. CD.
(Original version: Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphony No. 2. Leonard Bernstein, the New
York Philharmonic, Barbara Hendricks, Christa Ludwig, and the Westminster
Choir.)
(Original version: Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphony No. 7. Leonard Bernstein and the
New York Philharmonic. Columbia, M2L-339, M2S-739, 1966. LP.)
(Original version: Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphony No. 8. Leonard Bernstein and the
London Symphony Orchestra. Columbia Masterworks, 1967. LP.)
Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphonies 1–9, Adagio of No. 10. Maurice Abravanel and the
Utah Symphony. Musical Concepts, MC 182, 2011. CD.
Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphony No. 1. Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony
Orchestra. Silverline Classics, 67662-88238-9-7, 2004. DVD.
Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphony No. 5. Maurice Abravanel and the Utah Symphony
Orchestra. Silverline Classics, 284215-2, 2004. Dual Disc CD/DVD.
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 7. Hans Rosbaud and Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Archipel Records, ARPCD0243, 2004. CD. (Original version: Urania, 1953. LP.)
200
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 7. Hermann Scherchen and Vienna State Opera Orchestra.
Deutsche Grammophon, 2002. CD. (Original version: Westminster, 2221, 1953.
LP.)
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 8. Hermann Scherchen, Wiener Symphoniker, Wiener
Kammerchor, Wiener Singakademie, and Wiener Sängerknaben. Forgotten
Records, fr 356, 2010. CD. (Original version: Columbia, 1951. LP.)
Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphonies Nos 8 & 10. Eduard Flipse, Rotterdam
Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rotterdam Combined Choirs; Wyn Morris, New
Philharmonic Orchestra. Scribendum, SC 010, 2003. CD. (Original version:
Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 8. Eduard Flipse, Rotterdam Philharmonic
Orchestra, and Rotterdam Combined Choirs. Epic, SC6004, 1954. LP.)
Mahler, Gustav. Mahler: Symphony No. 9. Bruno Walter and Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra. EMI, CD H 7 63029 2, 1989. CD.
https://www.naxosmusiclibrary.com/. Accessed 1 January 2016. (Recorded on 16
January 1938.)
Mahler, Gustav. Bruno Walter Conducts and Talks about Mahler: Symphony No. 9,
Rehearsal & Performance. Bruno Walter and Columbia Symphony Orchestra.
Sony, 1996. CD. (Original version: CBS, BRG 72068-9, 1962. LP. Recorded in
1961.)
Mahler, Gustav. The Music of Gustav Mahler Issued 78s, 1903–1940. Urlicht, UAV-5980,
2013. CD.
Secondary Sources
Adorno, Theodor W. Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy, trans. Edmund Jephcott. Chicago:
University Of Chicago Press, 1996.
Alexander, Thomas G. and James B. Allen. Mormons & Gentiles: A History of Salt Lake
City. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1984.
Ashby, Arved Mark. Absolute Music, Mechanical Reproduction. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2010.
Barham, Jeremy, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Mahler. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2007.
Belfy, Jeanne Marie. “Judith and the Louisville Orchestra: The Rest of the Story.”
College Music Symposium 31 (January 1, 1991): 36–48.
201
________. “The Commissioning Project of the Louisville Orchestra, 1948–1958: A Study
of the History and Music.” Ph.D. diss., University of Kentucky and University of
Louisville, 1986.
Benjamin, Walter, Hannah Arendt, and Harry Zohn. Illuminations. New York: Harcourt,
Brace & World, 1968.
Botstein, Leon. “Gustav Mahler's Vienna.” In The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald
Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 6–38. Oxford; New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999.
________. “Whose Gustav Mahler? Reception, Interpretation, and History.” In Mahler
and His World, edited by Karen Painter, 1–53. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
University Press, 2002.
Boyd, Malcolm. “Alessandro Scarlatti.” In Oxford Music Online.
www.oxfordmusiconline.com. Accessed 4 June 2015.
Brown, Deane Wakley. “Growth and Development of Utah Professional Symphonic
Orchestras prior to 1940.” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1959.
Broyles, Michael. Beethoven in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.
Brunner, Lance W. “The Orchestra and Recorded Sound.” In The Orchestra: Origins and
Transformations, edited by Joan Peyser, 479–532. New York: Scribner’s Sons,
1986.
Chanan, Michael. Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and Its Effects on Music.
London; New York: Verso, 1995.
Cherry, Robert and Jennifer Griffith. “Down to Business: Herman Lubinsky and the
Postwar Music Industry.” Journal of Jazz Studies 10/1 (2014): 1–24.
Cohen, Norm. “The Folk Revival Reissued: The Vanguard Label.” The Journal of
American Folklore 102/404 (1989): 195–198.
Cohen, Ronald D. Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940–
1970. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002.
Coleman, Mark. Playback: From the Victrola to MP3, 100 Years of Music, Machines,
and Money. New York: Da Capo Press, 2003.
Cook, Martha Tingey. “Pioneer Bands and Orchestras of Salt Lake City.” Master’s thesis,
Brigham Young University, 1960.
202
Cook, Nicholas, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music. Cambridge; New
York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Cooke, Deryck. Gustav Mahler: An Introduction to His Music. Cambridge; New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Craven, Robert R., edited. Symphony Orchestras of the United States. New York:
Greenwood Press, 1986.
Davis, Peter G. “Sills, Beverly.” In Oxford Music Online. www.oxfordmusiconline.com.
Accessed 24 July 2015.
Day, Timothy. A Century of Recorded Music: Listening to Musical History. New Haven:
Yale University Press, 2000.
DeVeaux, Scott. “Bebop and the Recording Industry: The 1942 AFM Recording Ban
Reconsidered.” Journal of American Musicological Society 41/1 (1988): 126–165.
Durham, Lowell M. Abravanel! Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1989.
Eyerman, Ron and Scott Barretta. “From the 30s to the 60s: The Folk Music Revival in
the United States.” Theory and Society 25/4 (August 1, 1996): 501–543.
Filzen, Sarah. “The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records.” The Wisconsin Magazine of
History 82/2 (1998): 104–127.
Flanagan, Robert J. The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras: Artistic Triumphs and
Economic Challenges. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.
Fox, Jon Hartley. With foreword by Dave Alvin. King of the Queen City: The Story of
King Records, Music in American Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
Fülöp, Péter. Mahler Discography. New York: Kaplan Foundation, 1995.
Gordon, Steven Allen. “Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, Modernism, and the Crisis of
Austrian Liberalism.” Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1998.
Gronow, Pekka. “The Record Industry: The Growth of a Mass Medium.” Popular Music
3 (January 1, 1983): 53–75.
Gronow, Pekka, and Ilpo Saunio. An International History of the Recording Industry.
London: Cassell, 1998.
Grünewald, Helge. “The Mahler Tradition of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.” In
Collected Work: Gustav Mahler: The World Listens, II: 147–149. Haarlem,
Netherlands: TEMA Uitgevers, 1995.
203
Harrison, Conrad B. Five Thousand Concerts: A Commemorative History of the Utah
Symphony. Salt Lake City: Utah Symphony Society, 1986.
Hart, Philip. Orpheus in the New World: the Symphony Orchestra as an American
Cultural Institution. New York: W. W. Norton, 1973.
Hicks, Michael. Mormonism and Music: A History, Music in American Life. Urbana, IL:
University of Illinois Press, 1989.
________. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography. Urbana, IL: University of
Illinois Press, 2015.
Holub, Robert C. Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction. London; New York:
Methuen, 1984.
Horowitz, Joseph. Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall. New York:
W.W. Norton, 2005.
________. Understanding Toscanini. London; Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987.
Katz, Mark. Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2004.
________. “The Phonograph Effect: The Influence of Recording on Listener, Performer,
Composer, 1900-1940.” Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1999.
Kaye, Peter. Dostoevsky and English Modernism: 1900–1930. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1999.
Kildea, Paul. Selling Britten: Music and the Marketplace. Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2002.
Kinnett, Forest Randolph. “‘Now his time really seems to have come’: Ideas about
Mahler’s music in late Imperial and First Republic Vienna.” Ph.D. diss.,
University of North Texas, 2009.
Klefstad, Terry Wait. “The reception in America of Dmitri Shostakovich, 1928–1946.”
Ph.D. diss., University of Texas at Austin, 2003.
Kubik, Reinhod. “The history of the International Gustav Mahler Society in Vienna and
the Complete Critical Edition.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mahler, edited
by Jeremy Barham, 217–225. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
La Grange, Henry-Louis de. Gustav Mahler, Vol. 3: Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion,
1904-1907. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
204
________. “Mahler and France.” In The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald Mitchell
and Andrew Nicholson, 138–152. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press,
1999.
Mabry, Donald J. “The Rise and Fall of Ace Records: A Case Study in the Independent
Record Business.” The Business History Review 64/3 (October 1, 1990): 411–450.
Mauskapf, Michael. “The American Orchestra as Patron and Presenter, 1945–Present: A
Selective Discography.” Notes 66/2 (2009): 381–393.
MacInnis, John Christian, “Leonard Bernstein’s and Roger Englander’s Educational
Mission: Music Appreciation and the 1961-62 Season of Young People’s
Concerts.” Master’s thesis, Florida State University, 2009.
Matthews, David. “The Sixth Symphony.” In The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald
Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 366–375. Oxford; New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999.
Mercado, Mario R. “A Podium with a View: Recollections by Maurice Abravanel.” Kurt
Weill Newsletter 5/1 (1987): 6–8.
Metzger, Christoph. Mahler-Rezeption: Perspektiven Der Rezeption Gustav Mahlers.
Wilhelmshaven: Noetzel, Heinrichshofen-Bücher, 2000.
________. “Issues in Mahler Reception: Historicism and Misreadings after 1960.”
Translated by Jeremy Barham. In The Cambridge Companion to Mahler, edited
by Jeremy Barham, 203–216. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Miller, Leta. Music and Politics in San Francisco: From the 1906 Quake to the Second
World War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.
Mitchell, Donald. “The Twentieth Century’s Debt to Mahler: Our Debt to Him in the
Twenty-first (2001).” In Discovering Mahler: Writings on Mahler, 1955–2005,
selected by Gastón Fournier-Facio and Richard Alston; edited by Gastón
Fournier-Facio, co-ordinating editor Jill Burrows, 556–596. Woodbridge, Suffolk,
UK ; Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2007.
Mitchell, Donald, and Andrew Nicholson. The Mahler Companion. Oxford; New York:
Oxford University Press, 1999.
Morton, David. Off the Record: The Technology and Culture of Sound Recording in
America. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000.
________. Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology. Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 2004.
205
Mueller, John Henry. The American Symphony Orchestra: A Social History of Musical
Taste. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1951.
Mueller, Kate Hevner. Twenty-seven Major American Symphony Orchestras: A History
and Analysis of Their Repertoires, Seasons 1842–43 through 1969-70.
Bloomington: Indiana University Studies, 1973.
Mugmon, Matthew Steven. “The American Mahler: Musical Modernism and
Transatlantic Networks, 1920–1960.” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2013.
Niekerk, Carl. “Mahler’s Goethe.” The Musical Quarterly 89 (2006): 237–272.
North, James. “Leopold Stokowski and His Symphony Orchestra: Personnel Roster for
the RCA Victor Recordings.” ARSC Journal 44/1 (2013): 15–33.
North, James H. and Tom Tierney. “The Columbia Symphony Orchestra: An Exploration
of the Recording History of a Phantom Orchestra.” ARSC Journal 45/2 (2014):
156–78.
Page, Christopher Jarrett. “Leonard Bernstein and the Resurrection of Gustav Mahler.”
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2000.
Painter, Karen. “The Aesthetics of Mass Culture: Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and Its
Legacy.” In Mahler and His World, edited Karen Painter, 127–156. Princeton and
Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2002.
________. “The Aesthetics of the Listener: New Conception of Music Meaning, Timbre,
and Form in the Early Reception of Mahler’s Symphonies 5–7.” Ph.D. diss.,
Columbia University, 1996.
Painter, Karen, and Bard Music Festival. Mahler and His World. Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton University Press, 2002.
Paul, David Christopher. “Converging Paths to the Canon: Charles Ives, Gustav Mahler,
and American Culture.” Ph.D. diss., University of California at Berkeley, 2006.
Patmore, David N. C. “Sir Georg Solti and the Record Industry.” ARSC Journal 41/2
(2010): 200–232.
Putnam, Howard Hoggan. “George Edward Percy Careless: His Contributions to the
Musical Culture of Utah and the Significance of His Life and Works.” Master’s
thesis, Brigham Young University, 1957.
Reilly, Edward R. “Mahler in America.” In The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald
Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 422–437. Oxford; New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999.
206
Robertson Wilson, Marian. “Leroy Robertson and the Oratorio from the Book of
Mormon: Reminiscence of a Daughter.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/2
(1999): 4–13, 84.
Roman, Zoltan. “A Brief History of the Complete Critical Edition.” In Gustav Mahler:
Werk und Wirken—Neue Mahler-Forschung aus Anlaß des vierzigjährigen
Bestehens der Internationalen Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, 109–116. Vienna:
Vom Pasqualatihaus, 1996.
________. Gustav Mahler’s American Years, 1907–1911: A Documentary History.
Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1989.
Rothe, Larry. Music for a City, Music for the World: 100 Years with the San Francisco
Symphony. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2011.
Samples, Mark C. “Baez, Joan.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music.
www.oxfordmusiconline. Accessed 19 May 2015.
Samson, Jim. “Reception.” In Oxford Music Online. www.oxfordmusiconline.com.
Accessed 18 June 2012.
Samuels, Robert. “Narrative Form and Mahler’s Musical Thinking.” Nineteenth-Century
Music Review 8/2 (December 2011): 237–254.
Schneider, David. The San Francisco Symphony: Music, Maestros, and Musicians.
Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1983.
Schuster-Craig, John. “Stravinsky’s Scènes De Ballet and Billy Rose’s The Seven Lively
Arts: The Abravanel Account.” In Collected Work: Music in the Theater, Church,
and Villa: Essays in Honor of Robert Lamar Weaver and Norma Wright Weaver,
edited by Susan Parisi, 285–289. Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2000.
Silverman, Robert J. “Maurice Abravanel Interviewed.” Piano Quarterly 35/137 (1987):
26–35.
Sims, Barbara Barnes. The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records. Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University press, 2014.
Smith, Alex D. “The Symphony in America: Maurice Abravanel, and the Utah
Symphony Orchestra: The Battle for Classical Music.” Master’s thesis, Brigham
Young University, 2002.
Smith, Lyneer Charles. “Brigham Cecil Gates: Composer, Director, Teacher of Music.”
Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1952.
207
Smoley, Lewis M. “Mahler conducted and recorded: From the concert hall to DVD.” In
The Cambridge Companion to Mahler, edited by Jeremy Barham, 243–261.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
________. Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings Since
1986. Westport: Greenwood, 1996.
Smoley, Lewis M., and Jack Diether. The Symphonies of Gustav Mahler: A Critical
Discography. Westport: Greenwood, 1986.
Solvik, Morten. “Mahler and Germany.” In The Mahler Companion, edited by Donald
Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 126–137. Oxford; New York: Oxford University
Press, 1999.
Sorensen, Merlin Ray. “The Ogden Tabernacle Choir, Its History and Contributions to
the Cultural History of Utah.” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1961.
Vidali, Carole Franklin. Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: A Guide to Research. New
York: Garland, 1993.
Weber, Jerome F. “Vanguard.” In Oxford Music Online. www.oxfordmusiconline.com.
Accessed 13 May 2015.
Weill, Kurt, Caspar Neher, Christopher Hailey, Kim H. Kowalke, and Lys Symonette.
“Mahagonny in Letters, 1927-1946: Weill Writes to Universal Edition, Lenya,
and Maurice Abravanel.” Kurt Weill Newsletter 13/2 (1995): 12–19.
Werner, Sybille. “Appendix 3Ad. A Performance History of Mahler’s Works.” In Gustav
Mahler: A New Life Cut Short (1907–1911), by Henry-Louis de La Grange,
1657–1669. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
________. “The Performance History of Mahler’s Orchestral Works between his Death
in 1911 and the Anniversary Years of 1960/61.” In After Mahler’s Death, edited
by Gerold W Gruber, Morten Solvik Olsen, and Jan Vičar, 117–131. Olomouc,
Czech Republic: Univerzita Palackého, 2013.
Williamson, Rosemary. “Cooke, Deryck (Victor).” In Oxford Music Online.
www.oxfordmusiconline.com. Accessed 14 July 2015.
Zak, Albin. I Don’t Sound Like Nobody: Remaking Music in 1950s America. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan Press, 2010.
Zychowicz, James. “Gustav Mahler’s Second Century: Achievements in Scholarship and
Challenges for Research.” Note 67/3 (2011): 457–482.
________. “Mahler Discography.” ARSC Journal 42/2 (2011): 253–255.
208
________. “Mahler’s Unfinished Legacy: Exploring the Discography of the Tenth
Symphony.” ARSC Journal 43/2 (2012): 197–223.
209