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       My major primary sources for Jascha Horenstein‟s Mahler performances are (1)
Horenstein‟s library, which I inherited and (2) documentary material compiled through
the indefatigable research of Yacov Horenstein, the conductor‟s second cousin, collected
over more than twenty year as source material for a biography.

       Secondary sources of great value have been Péter Fülöp‟s 1995 Mahler
Discography, an indispensable source of detailed information pertaining to commercial
and non-commercial recordings, and Deryk Barker‟s 1995, The Horenstein Legacy, a

        Horenstein‟s programmed the the First Symphony, still controversial eleven years
after the composer‟s death, at his professional debut with the Vienna Symphony
Orchestra on Friday, 11 November 1922; His first concert with the Berlin Philharmonic,
on Wednesday, 28 December 1927, included the Fifth, and his debut with the Leningrad
Philharmonic, on Friday, 22 April 1932, the Ninth. This may well have the last
performance of the Ninth in the Soviet Union until after Stalin‟s death in 1953, as
suggested to me in the summer of 2001 by Professor Dorothea Redpenning following her
lecture here in Toblach/Dobbiaco.

       Yacov Horenstein‟s research and my scrutiny of his library suggests that these
three symphonies, and the Fourth, for which we cannot provide any specific early
performance dates, constituted Jascha Horenstein‟s primary repertoire of Mahler until
after World War II.

       One of his scores of the Fourth, dated 1 January 1918 is extremely heavily
marked suggesting performances at an early stage of his career. There were a number of
postwar Fourths, among these one in Palestine [as it then was] with the Philharmonic, on
8 March 1948, shortly before the formation of the State of Israel, and the first
performance in Venezuela, possibly the South American premiere as well, on 15
February 1957, in Caracas. Horenstein recorded the Fourth with the London
Philharmonic in 1970, following one of his relatively few concert engagements with that

        He recorded the Kindertotenlieder, of course, in Berlin in 1928, there are also in
his library an early edition of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with virtually no
markings, and copies of three Wunderhorn songs, lightly marked.

       There may have been a Second during the interwar period. Again, a full score
contains annotations in Horenstein‟s youthful handwriting. During the course of
rehearsals for performances of the Second in Trieste at Easter 1972, I asked him if he had
conducted it before other than in Johannesburg in 1956; he alluded vaguely to one in
Germany in his youth.

        As far as we can tell it was not until the Mahler anniversary years that Jascha
Horenstein began to conduct the remaining Mahler symphonies (3, 6, 7 and 10); just
before that there was the unique, legendary London Eighth of 20 March 1959, which did
so much to inspire the British Mahler renaissance, and was the obvious first choice for
the BBC‟s series of CD reissues of his broadcast performances.

        Although a beautifully bound score of the Third boasts a calligraphic dedication
to him on his twenty-fifth birthday, May 6, 1923, from the „Gemischten Chor Groß-
Berlin‟, this symphony, too, appears to have entered his repertoire in 1960. We can only
trace three performances, one in London and one in Turin in 1960, and the London
performance in May 1970 subsequently recorded by Unicorn.

        There were a number of Fifths in the early and mid 1960s, both in London and
elsewhere; among these a performance with the Philharmonia Orchestra as part of the
BBC‟s [incomplete] anniversary cycle at the Royal Festival Hall, as well as performances
at the Edinburgh Festival with the Berlin Philharmonic, where Horenstein substituted for
an indisposed Rafael Kubelik, and with the Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra. Archival
tapes in London preserve several other London performances from the this period.

       As far as we can tell, Horenstein conducted the Sixth with only three orchestras,
the Stockholm Philharmonic, in April 1966, the Finnish Radio Orchestra, Helsinki, in
1968, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1969. A composite of the Stockholm
performances which I produced serves as the basis for the Unicorn release; the BBC have
suggested that the Bournemouth performance may be in line for release in their series.

        Yacov Horenstein documents five occasions on which he conducted the Seventh,
first in March, 1964 with the London Philharmonic, with the London Symphony
Orchestra in May 1967, the recorded performance with the New Philharmonia from
August 1969, one in Bern in December 1969, and a series of three at La Scala, Milan, in
October 1971, at which I assisted him. These were probably his only performances of the

       There are few documented performances of Das Lied von der Erde before
Horenstein‟s valedictory Manchester studio performance in April 1972; among these one
in London, in 1966 with Ronald Dowd and Norma Proctor and the Royal Philharmonic
and one with Birgit Finilla, James King and the Stockholm Philharmonic two years later.
As with the Second Symphony, in conversation with me Horenstein alluded vaguely to
prewar performances he had conducted, but offered no specifics.

       There were several postwar Ninths; three in London (one in 1958 with the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra and two in 1966 with the London Symphony Orchestra), in
addition to his 1951 recording, Horenstein returned to conduct it with the Vienna
Symphony Orchestra at the 1960 Vienna Festival. In his fascinating chapter, “Mahler and
France” in The Mahler Companion, Henry-Louis de la Grange cites Horenstein‟s June
1967 performance with the Orchestra Nationale as the last of three performances of the
Ninth [along with those during the two preceding months by Rafael Kubelik and
Klemperer] which seemed to mark the much-belated acceptance of Mahler‟s music in
France. His last New York concerts, in December 1969, with Stokowski‟s American
Symphony Orchestra, were built around the Ninth.

       As far as I can tell, Horenstein conducted only the Adagio of the Tenth, in the
version published by Associated Music, and on only one occasion, during the BBC
anniversary cycle. Despite his deep friendship with and respect for Deryck Cooke, he had
grave reservations about Cooke‟s completion of the Tenth, and was not willing to
consider adding it to his repertoire.

       Similarly, he was uninterested in the “extracanonic” 1893 version of the First
Symphony, with “Blumine”, despite my advocacy for it. Although we never discussed it,
I suspect that he had not seriously considered conducting Das Klagende Lied.

        Over a period of more than thirty years many critics have praised the same
features of Horenstein‟s conducting.

       The veteran Hermann Klein (1856-1934), reviewing the first recording of
Kindertotenlieder for Gramophone in 1932 remarked:

        “The singer is the celebrated Munich baritone, Heinrich Rehkemper, and the
name of the able conductor is Jascha Horenstein, to whom hearty compliments are due
for his delicate rendering of Mahler‟s exquisite symphonic score…On the whole, I can
conceive of no finer interpretation than this. It is strangely atmospheric throughout,
replete with the poetry of a spiritual mind, and governed by masterly art. The recording
happily does justice to these qualities and keeps them distinctly in view.”

       . Reviewing the January, 1966 “...restrained, moving...” Horenstein performance
of Das Lied for the Daily Express, Alan Blyth commented that the orchestra “...has not
played with such beauty and conviction for many a day.”

       Neville Cardus, attending the 1958 London Ninth:

        “An emphatic victory was won for the cause of Mahler, in the Festival Hall on
Wednesday, by great conducting from Jascha Horenstein and by great playing on the part
of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at the concert of the Royal Philharmonic Society. I
have heard many performances of the Ninth Symphony of Mahler, some under the
direction of the renowned Mahler interpreters, Bruno Walter, Klemperer, Barbirolli, and
Mengelberg. This one went deeper into the score than any of my recollection; and the
playing was absolutely right in tone, in attack, in its vehement string tension, its snap of
woodwind, and also its pathos of woodwind; and the brass and horns ranged from
romantic evocation to sounds which seemed to come from the charnel house.

        By what marvels of hypnotism does a conductor conjure from an orchestra a tone
the like of which it has seldom produced before? This was the voice of Mahler; it was
more than that-it was the Mahler ectoplasm. At the end of the performance there was a
scene of enthusiasm and tumult seldom equalled at concerts in this country. Horenstein
was repeatedly called back to the platform. Young people in the audience shouted,
waved hands, and stamped feet…This performance has surely established Horenstein's
position among the very few great humane orchestral interpreters of our time”.

       “Horenstein‟s great authority as a Mahlerian was always in evidence and he drew
some wonderful textures from the New Philharmonia Orchestra. The weird trickling of
night noises, the ominous bellowing of the funeral march, the crackling wind sonorities-
whatever the far-reaching demands of Mahler‟s instrumental genius Horenstein and his
players characterized them superbly.” [„A.E. P.‟, Daily Telegraph, August 30, 1969]

       And finally, with respect to his London performances of the Seventh:

        “Horenstein‟s great merit as a Mahler conductor is the clarity of his vision…most
refreshing of all was his approach to the finale. Here again his tempos were consistently
brisk but not so brisk that the glorious C major echoes of Wagner‟s Meistersinger…were
rushed out of existence. This of all the five movements is by far the most difficult to hold
together…but with Horenstein it became the most compelling. It was the movement, too
in which the New Philharmonia players found their best form.” [Edward Greenfield,
Guardian, August 30, 1969]

        “He prevented any sense of anticlimax and avoided bathos by strict control of the
manifold tempo changes…apart from his steady pulse, Horenstein‟s achievement in the
fist movement was built on the closest attention to internal balance and full realization of
Mahler‟s exploratory ear…Horenstein took infinite care over Mahler‟s literally fantastic
timbres and textures. For instance, in the second Night Music, with its murmuring
clarinets and softly plucked strings, there seemed to be an interplay of exquisite
instruments, exquisitely controlled…played with rapt, nocturnal dreaminess.” [Alan
Blyth, The Times, August 30, 1969]

       “Of Mahler conductors few have so close an understanding of his personality than
Jascha Horenstein who last month conducted the LSO in one of the most eloquent
performances of his Seventh Symphony that I have heard…” [Robert Henderson, Musical
Times, July 1967]

       To me, it is evident that the greatness of Jascha Horenstein‟s performances of
Mahler lay in his ability to accept and characterize to the utmost all the different musics
within a work without losing track of long-range tonal movement, rhythmic and metric
coherence and large-scale formal arch. His gift for precise balance between incident and
form enabled him to project even the largest musical structures as if they were a single
gesture, while maintaining the vivid detail essential to support their thematic and
dramatic progress.

       --Joel Lazar

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