Mahler’s Bach scores come to rest in Leipzig

Mahler’s Bach scores come to rest in Leipzig


norman lebrecht

February 23, 2021

The 59 volumes of the complete Bach edition owned by Gustav Mahler have been bought by the Leipzig Bach Archive. The edition is incomplete; two final volumes appeared after Mahler’s death.

The set was owned successively by his widow Alma and daughter Anna. After Anna’s death in 1988, it was sold to a London collector, who died in the past couple of years. Mahler made an orchestral piece of his own out of two Bach suites.



  • AnnaT says:

    Very cool acquisition–do we know which edition Mahler owned? Assuming it’s the Bach-Gesellschaft, but maybe there were others in circulation. Would love to see his notations, if any.

    • Herb says:

      There was only one complete edition at the time. It took 50 years to make and was completed in the year 1900. Many of the important musicians of the era subscribed to it including Brahms and Liszt.

  • Rich C. says:

    He played and conducted that Bach Suite (from a piano adjusted to sound like a harpsichord) often in his final years in New York with the NYP.

    • Herbie G says:

      Rich, could Mahler have therefore invented the prepared piano?

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      I doubted your “often” part of the statement, so I looked it up in Knud Martner’s “Mahler’s Concerts” book. Indeed, Mahler programmed it quite frequently in his N.Y. period! Like Beecham would do, he used it as padding in a number of concerts of mixed works. All the more remarkable when consider he didn’t debut it until November of 1909. Mahler even took on his American tour with the Philharmonic Society of N.Y. (N.Y. Phil.), including Orchestra Hall in Boston!

  • James Benson says:

    I do happen to know that Gustav and Alma Mahler owned a copy of Das Wohltemperirte Klavier in the Carl Czerny edition and published by Peters in Liepzig around 1900.
    This particular edition is touchingly signed by both, and accompanied by the words “Wien, Weihnachten 1902” in Gustav’s hand. This volume has not gone to Leipzig.

  • Sheila Novitz says:

    This is exciting! Thank you for telling us. Bach, where he belongs.