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Blumine: An Orphan of the Symphonic World

Gustav-Mahler-Kohut

“I completed this opus (Blumine) in two days, and I must tell you that I am very pleased with it.”

—Gustav Mahler in an 1884 letter to Fritz Löhr

Friday morning on WFMT, Carl Grapentine plays the one Mahler movement that lost its spot in the 9+ symphonies of the composer/conductor. Mahler was a reviser. He returned to his compositions again and again, feeling more confident in his abilities, or at least less confident in his past abilities. As late as 1910, he was corresponding with his publisher about changes to his first four symphonies. In the case of his 1884 movement entitled Blumine, it began life as a symphonic poem, evidently inspired by a woman. When he set about writing his Symphony No.1 in 1887, he included Blumine as a second movement, but after three performances, removed it.

It wasn’t until 1966 when biographer Donald Mitchell discovered an early version of the First Symphony, a manuscript from Mahler’s time in Hamburg, that Blumine was known at all (it had been left out of the Symphony’s first publication). It was Benjamin Britten who stepped upon the podium in 1967 to conduct Blumine after an eighty-year absence from the Mahler catalog.

On Friday morning in the eight o’clock hour, Carl Grapentine will play a recording of Blumine with the Atlanta Symphony. The recording features a soloist now a fixture in Chicago, trumpeter Chris Martin.

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