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“When I want to produce a soft and restrained note, I don’t give it to an instrument that plays this note easily, but to one that so with great effort, even strain, yes, often with overexertion and exceeding its natural limits. For me the basses and bassoon often have to squeak (!) on the highest notes, while the flute blows way down in the low register…

Gustav Mahler

In September 2022 the Gustav Mahler Academy performed Gustav Mahler’s Ninth Symphony on original instruments for the first time since its world premiere in 1912.

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Mahler revisited

The Originalklang-Project of the Mahler Academy Orchestra under the direction of Philipp von Steinaecker breathes new life into the music of turn-of-the-century Vienna on historical instruments. For this unique project, the 45 students of the Gustav Mahler Academy, highly talented young musicians from all over Europe who were selected from more than 800 applicants, meet with outstanding musicians from Europe’s top ensembles in Bozen and Toblach. Together they will learn historical playing techniques of the fin de siècle on original Viennese instruments from 1900 and approach the repertoire of this era in a series of chamber music concerts. On September 8, 9 and 10, 2022, Gustav Mahler’s Ninth Symphony will be performed on original instruments for the first time since its world premiere in 1912.

The Busoni-Mahler Foundation in close cooperation with the Foundation Euregio Kulturzentrum Toblach is responsible for the production of the Originalklang-Project.


The Gustav Mahler Academy works to ensure that the latest findings on historical performance practice in Vienna between 1890 and 1910 will be available for the work of the musicians. They collaborate closely with Prof. Dr. Clive Brown, who, as a leading specialist in the field of performance practice of romantic music, will accompany the research and rehearsal process of the orchestra and instruct the musicians in workshops and sectionals.

“Our concepts of beautiful and communicative performance are always evolving. Sometimes, along the way, we lose sight of sounds that are subtler and more apt for a realisation of the composer’s vision than those which have replaced them; sometimes, too, we lose contact with expressive practices that were only to be read between the lines, even in such detailed scores as Mahler’s. Rediscovering these sounds and practices, and using them creatively, can reinvest the music with a freshness and impact that has been lost through technological developments and anachronistic responses to Mahler’s notation.”

Prof. Dr. Clive Brown


As part of its partnership with the Gustav Mahler Academy, the Foundation Euregio Kulturzentrum Toblach has begun building an instrument collection for the Originalklang-Project, for which the instruments of the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra around 1910 are being meticulously reconstructed. The Foundation has purchased wind- and percussion-instruments and restored them or, in a few cases, had exact copies made. The string players use gut strings on their instruments and adapt their techniques to the conventions of the time.

Originalklang today

Toblach, a historic holiday resort steeped in tradition at the foot of the Dolomites, is a deeply symbolic place: Gustav Mahler wrote his last three symphonies here, marking as it were the end of the Romantic era just a few years before some of the most devastating battles of the First World War were fought in the surrounding mountains.

“Toblach witnessed some of the fiercest fighting during World War One and thus became one of the tectonic fault-lines of 20th century history. It is here that this pan-European multi-generational orchestra comes together. These musicians are looking far back into history to learn from it for the present and to get closer to mysteries of Gustav Mahler’s music.”

Philipp von Steinaecker

Gustav Mahler’s music is part of our Western identity today. But do we really know it? Do we know how it sounded when it was first performed, or even how it might have sounded in Mahler’s head when he first conceived it in Toblach? Challenging our expectations in this regard also means reconsidering our understanding of history, tradition and identity.


Chiara Tonelli
principal flute Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Sebastian Sima
principal oboe Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera

Robert Oberaigner
principal clarinet Staatskapelle Dresden

Giorgio Mandolesi
principal bassoon Orchestre de Paris

Peter Dorfmayr
principal horn Wiener Symphoniker

David Guerrier
principal trumpet Orchestre National de France

Walther Voglmayer
principal trombone Wiener Symphoniker

Afanasy Chupin
concertmaster MusicAeterna

Alexandra Preucil
assistant concertmaster Cleveland Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Daniel Bard
concertmaster Basler Kammerorchester

Massimo Spadano
concertmaster Orquesta de Galicia

Stefan Arzberger
Leipziger Streichquartett, Gewandhaus Orchester

Johannes Lörstad
leader Seconds Royal Stockholm Philharmonic

Valérie Girard
violin Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks

Volker Jacobsen
viola Artemis-Quartett

Joel Hunter
principal viola Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Martina Forni
viola Concertgebouw Orkest

Jörg Winkler
principal viola Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Gabriele Geminiani
principal cello Accademia Santa Cecilia

Johan van Iersel
assistant principal cello Concertgebouw Orkest

Andreas Wylezol
principal bass Staatskapelle Dresden

Diego Zacharies
principal bass Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble

Naomi Shaham
principal bass West-Easter Divan Orchestra

Marinus Komst
timpanist Concertgebouw Orkest

Roland Dénes
timpanist Budapest Festival Orchestra


The Originalklang-Project is based on an idea by the conductor and curator of the Gustav Mahler Academy Philipp von Steinaecker, who is also conducts the project. As a founding member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and a sought-after conductor, Mahler’s music has been a constant presence in his life and career. A passionate advocate of historical performance practice, Philipp brings his many years of experience, undogmatic approach and creative energy to this new take on Mahler’s work.

Philipp was first guest conductor of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and has conducted orchestras such as the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, Residentiee Orkest Den Haag, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Croatian Radio Orchestra and Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, to name a few.

I have been wondering for years what the Vienna Philharmonic of 1900 might have sounded like. It is important and long overdue to bring the academic rigour of performance practice and the beauty and character of the original instruments to the music of Mahler! This is an extremely exciting project and a group of wonderful musicians!”

Daniel Harding