4 pages, large 8vo (22.5 x 14.3cm), Vienna ("III Rennweg Nro. 3 1.ten Stock..."), 5 March 1879, central and vertical folds, tiny hole to first leaf, slightly affecting text, some splitting along folds
ONLY HALF OF THE TEXT OF THIS LETTER IS CURRENTLY KNOWN, AND THAT ONLY IMPERFECTLY, as transmitted in a copy in the Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel Collection, Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Ms. Coll. 575.
This remarkable letter was written by the eighteen-year-old Maher to his former fellow student Anton Krisper (1858-1914), a significant member of Mahler's youthful circle, and the recipient of a number of letters of a highly personal nature which 'allow us so profound a glimpse of Mahler's adolescent character' (Donald Mitchell). Here Mahler pours his heart out to Krisper about his new living arrangements and his composing plans, notably enclosing with the letter an early version of the text of the cantata Das klagende Lied, his first major work [see lot 48].
In Franz Willnauer's partial edition of the letter, based on the fragmentary copy, the letter is provisionally dated to the autumn of 1878: this can now be corrected to the somewhat later date of 5 March 1879.
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