Rehearsal memo to the musicians of the New Philharmonia Orchestra of Newton, MA, on 4/1/09.
[The orchestra performed Mahler’s Symphony #1 on April 4th and 5th of this year. The author of the April Fool’s joke is David Pesetsky, principal second violinist in the orchestra. NK.]
Several weeks ago, we sent you a list of translations of the German
markings in the Mahler. We now realize that this list contained many
serious errors. These sheets contain the correct versions. So we
don’t waste valuable rehearsal time on this, copy these corrections
into your part immediately.
GERMAN – ENGLISH
Langsam – Slowly
Schleppend – Slowly
Dampfer auf – Slowly
Mit Dampfer – Slowly
Allmahlich in das Hauptzeitmass ubergehen – Do not look at the conductor
Im Anfang sehr gemaechlich – In intense inner torment
Alle Betonungen sehr zart – With more intense inner torment
Getheilt (geth.) – Out of tune
Von hier an in sehr allmaehlicher aber stetiger Steigerung bis zum
Zeichen – From this point on, the spit valves should be emptied with
Hier ist ein frisches belebtes Zeitmass eingetreten – Slowly
Haupttempo – Slowly
Noch ein wenig beschleunigend – Slowing down but with a sense of
Immer noch zurueckhaltend – With steadily decreasing competence
Sehr gemaechlich – With indescribably horrific inner torment
Etwas bewegter, aber immer noch sehr ruhig – Somewhat louder, though still inaudible as before
Alle Betonungen sehr zart – With smallish quantities of fairly mild
Gemaechlich – Intermission
Ganz unmerklich etwas zurueckhaltend – Slowly
Etwas gemaechlicher als zuvor – Slowly
Von hier ab unmerklich breiter werden – As if wild animals were
gnawing on your liver
Ohne cresc. – Without toothpaste
Immer noch etwas zurueckhaltend – Slowly
Vorwaerts draengend – Slowly
Hauptzeitmass – Slowly
Allmaehlich etwas lebhafter – Screaming in agony
Ohne Nachschl(age) – Without milk (sugar)
Kraeftig bewegt – Slowly
Mit dem Holze zu streichen – Like a hole in the head
Mit Parodie – Viola solo
Sehr einfach und schlicht, wie eine Volksweise – Slowly
Daempfer ab – Eyes closed
Ploetzlich viel schneller – Even more ploddingly
Den ersten Ton scharf herausgehoben – Do not play until the buzzer
Am Griffbrett – As if in tune
Aeusserst zart, aber ausdrucksvoll – Radiantly joyful, despite the
Wieder zurueckhaltend – Increasingly decreasing
Noch breiter als vorher – Better late than never
Nicht eilen – No eels
Allmaehlich (unmerklich) etwas zurueckhaltend – Much faster (slower)
Lang gestrichen – Heads up
Lang gezogen – Heads back down
Die werden allmaehlich staerker und staerker bis zum (fp) – In the
event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a
Thank you thank you thank you, I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. Good medicine indeed doc 🙂
[…] Mahler’s Markings […]
[…] second violin of the New Philharmonia Orchestra of Newton, Mass. The list was posted on the blog of Neil A. Kurtzman, […]
I now need a doctor, because I’ve hurt myself laughing!
This blog post is fabulous. Not only because it makes us “professionals” laugh while deciphering Mahler’s markings, but I learned from your orchestra website how well-trained players from a multitude of fields can come together to form a spirited community in classical music. Cheers!
I’m in the middle of a run of SIEGFRIED right now in Washington, DC. This posting is too funny (and certainly applies to more than Mahler). At least I try to think funny when everything in Wagner goes “slowly”. Especially Act 3.
Glorious. We had similar fun in the Halle Choir with Mahler 2- especially “Slowing down but with a sense of
speeding up” and “Somewhat louder, though still inaudible as before”…
Although you missed out “Auferstehen”- you should have stood up ten bars ago…!
[…] The Human Creative Spirit… Published June 2, 2009 opera 0 Comments Mahler’s Markings « Medicine and Opera. […]
Da frage ich mich beim groben Uberfliegen schon, ob man doof ist. Herzlichen Dank fur Ihre Erklarungen
[…] Originally Posted by wingracer I have no problem with just writing it out in english but there are certain advantages to using the correct italian markings. Mainly, the fact that any professional musician in the world will know exactly what you intend no matter what language they speak. It's not just tradition, it is also practical. Mahler's pervasive markings in German often require lists of translations to be handed out to musicians for them to write into their parts. This practice has spawned some pretty funny deliberate mistranslations: https://medicine-opera.com/2009/04/mahlers-markings/ […]
I read these over and over, and could not stop laughing. Thanks for lightening my day.
I guess to get this I should not actually know any German at all. That aside, I can see the humor.
Hilarious, thank you. Only one correction needed: a “Dampfer” is a steamer, while a “Dämpfer” or “Daempfer” is a muffler, e.g. on a violin.
This reminds me of an anecdote about the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra which is to be conducted by a new, young and ambitious conductor. He gives them an endless list of detailed instructions on how to play. When he has finally ended, one violinist says to his neighbor: “Vier Kaffee” (four coffees). What does that mean?
Four Philharmonics musicians sit in a Viennese coffee house and let the waiter know which kind of coffee they wish to have: one freshly roasted mocca, one mild Arabica, one decaffeinated and one Viennese melange. The waiter notes each order meticulously and walks away to the counter saying: four coffees.
It is also known that during less important performances Philharmonics musicians hire a student from a music school to take their place in the orchestra. They can have a wine in the Prater, and the student is flattered to be able to play in e.g. the Staatsoper where the Philharmonics are the resident orchestra. During a Hoffmann opera (76th performance of a probably pre-War production http://www.myway.de/hoffmann/07-wien.html ) which I attended there in 2007 there must have been many students in the pit since this was one of the worst orchestra perfomances I have ever heard in any opera. Only the Cologne opera´s Gürzenich Orchester succeeded in playing worse during a dernière a year later.
[…] A fun little post about Mahler’s markings. […]
What are the most interesting original music manuscripts?
Apparently Mahler’s are hilarious / unique because of his copious and verbose markings. For instance, he says stuff like “sehr langsam nicht schleppen” (“very slow but not sleepy”) in the Resurrection symphony – right in with the dynamics markings…
Great! my laugh for the day!