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Markings at Mahler Scores: Composer requirements or Conductor guidelines?

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The conductor’s preparation to lead an orchestra is extensive with all composers, but the markings in the scores are an outstanding challenge in the preparation to conduct the music of Gustav Mahler. Written in German and placed anywhere, these markings challenge not only the music art-aesthetic expertise of conductors, but also the way that conductors build the orchestra sound and performance. The markings are very specific not only in terms of the performance conception of the piece, but also in some technical aspects with the orchestra. Mahler’s career started as Conductor and was just after when he conducted some of the most important orchestras in the world, he started to compose his works. Therefore an important question about those markings emerged, are those markings composer requirements or conductor guidelines to rehearse the orchestras? To clarify this question the paper analyzes each marking at the beginning of 1st movement of Mahler’s 5th symphony. In addition, research brings a list of recordings of other conductors leading the same orchestras that Mahler conducted, allowing a better understanding of the markings’ implications in the subsequent performances.


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