It has long been assumed that the first performance of Mahler’s music in the US was Walter Damrosch’s concert of the fourth symphony in 1904. Damrosch went on to become Mahler’s second biggest enemy in America after Toscanini, as described in Why Mahler, so his preccedence tends to rile loyal Mahlerians.
I can now inform you that Damrosch’s was not the first performance. The diligent researches of Michael Bosworth, who lives in Hanoi, Vietnam, have revealed a performance six years earlier. Hats off to Mr Bosworth!
The concert was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and it contained the Urlicht movement of Mahler’s Second Symphony. The singer was the contralto Josephine Jacoby and the conductor Louis Koemmenich. So Brooklyn beat New York to Mahler by six whole years. Details below:
U.S. première of “Urlicht”, 4th movement of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony