15 Nov 2013

Mahler – Blumine

by Jeff Counts

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, trumpet, timpani, harp, strings.

Duration: 8 minutes.

GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911) – Mahler’s 1st Symphony began life as a “symphonic poem” with suitably descriptive movement titles based on a novel by the German romantic icon Jean Paul (Johann Paul Friedrich Richter). One of those original movements was called Blumine which, as a word, is a literary construction that translates loosely to “flora.” By the time the Titan became the true symphony we know today, the Blumine music had been removed by Mahler. The rediscovery of the score in the middle of the 20th century led to debate over whether or not the “lost” movement should be reinserted into the symphony proper. Such a restoration still occurs as a novelty on occasion but most now agree with Mahler that the symphony is best as it stands. This does not mean that the lovely Blumine hasn’t earned its own place in the sun. The original source for the music dates back to 1884 when Mahler was composing incidental interludes for the Scheffel play The Trumpeter of Säkkingen. The particular scene depicted in Blumine is of the trumpeter in heartfelt serenade to his beloved across the Rhine.