…needs no introduction. Dates maybe, just to make the comparative chronology clear? 1860-1911. And realize that it’s about as contemporary with Debussy as it can get: 1862-1918…

One of my ambitions is to do critical/comparative discographies of all his symphonies, in chronological order of recording. I’ve already started (on with symphonies Nos. 5 and 9, and to a lesser extent (and most of it not published on Amazon) No. 7. With Mahler as with all the other “warhorses” (Beethoven, Brahms….), I find it fascinating and illuminating to see how interpretive traditions set in, that end up having less to do with the score than with listening to one’s recorded predecessors… There is, somewhere in the first movement of the 7th, a certain unwritten rallentendo that was first introduced by Bernstein and then was picked up by almost everybody. Not that it’s unmusical, mind you… with Bernstein, what could be unmusical? But it’s not written in the score, and with Mahler being the conductor that he was, you can easily presume that he wanted everything that was in the score, and nothing that wasn’t… It’s also fascinating, of course, to observe, in Mahler as in Beethoven, Brahms and all, how over time, from the first recordings in the 1920s to the 1960s, tempi dragged on, how weight set in over momentum. It’s nowhere more typical than with Walter: just compare his fabled 1938 live 9th Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic, to his remake as an old man 23 years later on Columbia: first movement 24:40 vs 29:14, Finale 18:04 vs 21:02. I’m not saying this to disparage one against the other. There are some who find him impossibly fast and unfelt in 1938: I like both. To me the Finale “works” as much with the harrowing passion that Walter 1938 infuses it with, as with the “time of a standstill” atmosphere of Levine’s extreme 29:47 in 1979. But just observing the interpretive and emotional evolution is fascinating.

The indispensable resource for the Mahler afficionado and collector is Peter Fülöp’s magisterial Mahler Discography. The first edition from 1995 was already impressive. The second edition from 2010 is humongous. The venture wasn’t commercially successful alas and there probably won’t be a third edition.

My comparative listening (and Amazon reviewing) of the 5th stalled somewhere with the recordings from the 1970s… and that of the 9th, I know: it included Giulini’s (and also Bernstein’s extraordinary live performance with the Berlin Philharmonic on DG) but fell just short of Levine’s. I need to resume, really.

I am progressively listing all the recordings that I have in my collection, heard or not heard, reviewed or not reviewed, sometimes not even yet out of their shipping parcels. When reviewed (on this website or, if not yet imported over here, on, I provide the link to the review. When on, full discographic information (CD and, occasionally, DVD) is provided – a major advantage over Amazon (or, for that matter, any website that I am aware of).

For direct access:

Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 7
Symphony No. 9

Kindertotenlieder :

Norman Foster, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Jascha Horenstein, 13 September 1954, Vox (with Symphony No. 9)

Symphony No. 5 :

Bruno Walter, New York Philharmonic, 10 February 1947, Columbia / Sony

Rudolf Kempe, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, liv 3 November 1948,  Archipel review pending

Hans Rosbaud, Kölner Rundfunk Sinfonie-Orchester, live 22 October 1951, ICA Classics ICAC 5091, also in 8-CD set SWR Classic SWR19099CD, review pending

Hermann Scherchen, Vienna  State Opera Orchestra, 1952, Westminster

Jascha Horenstein, London Symphony Orchestra, live 30 October 1958, Pristine 567 review pending

Rudolf Schwarz, London Symphony Orchestra, 10-11 November 1958, Everest

Paul Paray, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, live 12 November 1959, Tahra Tah 721-722 review pending

Dimitri Mitropoulos, New York Philharmonic, live 2 January 1960, in 6-CD set Music & Arts CD 1021 review pending

Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic, 7 January 1963, Columbia / Sony

Erich Leinsdorf, Boston Symphony Orchestra, 17, 23, & 26 November 1963, RCA

Hermann Scherchen, Philadelphia Orchestra, live 30 October 1964, Tahra Tah 422

Vaclav Neumann, Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig, 8-11 June 1965, Berlin Classics, Brilliant Classics

Pierre Boulez, BBC Symphony Orchestra, live 28 August 1968, Nuova Era 2326

John Barbirolli, New Philharmonia Orchestra, 16-18 July 1969, EMI

Karel Ancerl, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, live 4 November 1969, Tahra 242, review pending

Pierre Boulez, BBC Symphony Orchestra, live 4 August 1970, Hunt CD 718, review pending

Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 26, 27, 31 March 1970, Decca/London

Bernard Haitink, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philips, 1-6 December 1970, review on pending transfer

Rafael Kubelik, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 5 November 1951, Deutsche Grammophon, review on pending transfer

Hans Swarowsky, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, February 1971, Berlin Classics

Antonio de Almeida, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, 23 November 1971, Guilde Internationale du Disque/Concert Hall, CD reissue Editions Atlas-Les Génies du Classique CLA-CD 165, review pending

Leonard Bernstein, Vienna Philharmonic, live April 1972, DVD Deutsche Grammophon, review pending

Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic, 13-16 February 1973, Deutsche Grammophon

Bruno Maderna, Italian Radio Orchestra (RAI) of Milano, live 23 February 1973 in 4-CD set Arkadia Maderna Editionn CDMAD 028.4, review pending

Wyn Morris, Symphonica of London November 1973, Collins Classics EC 1037-2, IMP PCD 1033, review pending

Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Grand Symphony Orchestra of State Radio and Television, live 23 December 1973, Russian Revelation RV 10049, Yedang Classics YCC 0039, review pending

Maurice Abravanel, Utah Symphony Orchestra, May 1974, Vanguard, review on pending transfer

Kirill Kondrashin, USSR State Symphony Orchestra, July 1974, Melodiya MEL CD 10 00810, also in 6-CD set Dante Lys 521-526, review pending

Zubin Mehta, Los Angeles Philharmonic, 26 & 27 April 1976, Decca/London, review pending 

James Levine, Philadelphia Orchestra, 17 & 18 January 1977, RCA, review pending

Klaus Tennstedt, London Philharmonic 10-12 May & 5 October 1978, EMI, review pending

Claudio Abbado, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 16-18 February 1980, Deutsche Grammophon, review pending

Klaus Tennstedt, New York Philharmonic, live 18 June 1980, in 12-CD set New York Philharmonic The Mahler Broadcasts 1948-1982

Rafael Kubelik, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, live 12 June 1981, Audite, review on pending transfer

Lorin Maazel, Vienna Philharmonic Orcestra 30 September & 4 October 1982, CBS/Sony, review on pending transfer

Giuseppe Sinopoli, Philharmonia Orchestra, 25-27 January 1985, Deutsche Grammophon, review pending

Eliahu Inbal, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, 24-25 January 1986, Denon, review pending

Bernard Haitink, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, live 25 December 1986 in 9-CD set Kerstmatinees/Eurovision Christmas Matinee Concerts, Philips (also DVD), review pending

Leonard Bernstein, Vienna Philharmonic, 6-8 September 1987, Deutsche Grammophon, review pending

Bernard Haitink, Berlin Philharmonic 15-17 May 1988, Philips, review pending

Emil Tabakov, Sofia Philharmonic, October 1988, Capriccio, review pending

Klaus Tennstedt, London Philharmonic, live 13 December 1988, EMI, review pending

Jean-Claude Casadesus, Lille National Orchestra July 1989, Forlane UCD 16609, review pending

Neeme Järvi, Scottish National Orchestra 23 & 24 October 1989, Chandos, review pending

Charles Mackerras, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, January 1990, EMI Eminence, review pending

Anton Nanut, Slovenia Symphony Orchestra 1990?, Digital Concerto CCT 656, Brilliant Classics, review pending

Gary Bertini, Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, 29 January & 3 February 1990, EMI, review pending

Michiyoshi Inoue, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 9 May 1990, Pickwick CDRPO 7011, review pending

Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra 13-16 October 1990, Philips, review pending

Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, live 10 November 1990, Decca

Klaus Tennstedt, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, live 9 December 1990, in 14-CD set Anthology of the Concertgebouw Amsterdam 1990-2000, RCO 11004, review pending

Alain Lombard, National Orchestra of Bordeaux-Aquitaine, June 1991, Forlane FF059, review pending

Claudio Abbado, Berlin Philharmonic, May 1993, Deutsche Grammophon, review pending

James Conlon, Gürzenich Cologne Orchestra 31 August – 2 September 1994, EMI

Pierre Boulez, Vienna Philharmonic, 25-26 March 1996, Deutsche Grammophon

Frank Shipway, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 1996, Tring TRP 096, review pending

Georg Solti, Zürich Tohnalle Orchetra 12-13 July 1997, Decca, review pending

Rudolf Barshai, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, live 9 September 1997, Laurel Records LR 905, Brilliant Classics 92206, review pending

Riccardo Chailly, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra 6-10 October 1997, Decca, review pending

Daniele Gatti, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 15-17 November 1997, Conifer 75605 51318, review pending

Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic 7-10 September 2002, EMI, review pending

Jonathan Nott, Bamber Symphony Orchestra, 15-19 September 2003, Tudor (SACD), review pending

Michael Gielen, Soutthwest German Radio Orchestra, 9-10 December 2003, Hänssler Classics CD 93 101, review pending

Jeppe Moulijn, UvA-Orkest J.Pzn Sweelinck,  17 June 2004 (+Diepenbrock) 1 DVH 140059, review pending

Bernard Haitink, Orchestre National de France live 30 June & 1 July 2003, Naïve V 5026, review pending

Claudio Abbado, Lucerne Festival ORchestra 18-19 August 2004, DVD Euro Arts, review pending

James DePreist, London Symphony Orchestra, 20-30 April 2005, Naxos 8.557990, review pending

Michael Tilson Thomas, San Franciso Symphony Orchestra, 28 September-2 October 2005, San Francisco Symphony CD, review pending

Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, February 2006, Deutsche Grammophon, review pending

David Zinman, Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra 17-19 March 2007, SACD RCA, review pending

Mariss Jansons, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, 18 & 21 October 2007, 16-17 January 2008, SACD RCO Live 08007, review pending

Daniele Gatti, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, live 25 June 2010, in 11-DVD set “Mahler”, RCO Live 12101, review pending

Valery Gergiev, London Symphony Orchestraa, live September 2010, SACD LSO Live LSO0664, review on pending transfer

Ivan Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra, September 2012,  SACD Channel Classics CCS SA 34213, review pending


Symphony No. 7 :

Hermann Scherchen, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, live 22 June 1950. Orfeo C 279 921 B (1992)

Hans Rosbaud, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1952. Vox VoxBox CDX2 5520 (1995) (with Bruckner: Symphony No. 4, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Otto Klemperer)

Hermann Scherchen, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, July 1953. MCA Classics MCD 80082, Westminster (Deutsche Grammophon) 471 263-2

Hans Rosbaud,  SWR-Sinfonieorchester, 18-20 February 1957. Wergo WER 6406-2 (1997), 8-CD set SWR19099CD (2020) (with Rosbaud’s radio recordings of Symphonies Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, 9 and Das Lied von der Erde)

Eduard Van Beinum, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra live 16 June 1958. GSMN-001 (2011)

John Barbirolli, BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra and Hallé Orchestra, 20 October 1960 (with Bruckner: Symphony No. 9, Hallé Orchestra). 2 CDs BBC Legends BBCL 4034-2 (2000)

Maurice Abravanel, Utah Symphony Orchestra, December 1964. Vanguard

Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, 14 & 15 December 1965, Columbia/CBS/Sony

Bruno Maderna, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, live 27 May 1967. Hunt Productions HUNTCD 547 (1988), Arkadia CDHP 547.1 (1993)

Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia Orchestra, 18-28 September 1968. EMI

Vaclav Neumann, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, 20-24 May 1969. Berlin Classics 0090462BC (1995)

Jascha Horenstein, New Philharmonia Orchestra, 29 August 1969. Descant 02 (1989), Music & Arts MACD 727 (1992), BBC Legends BBCL 4051  (2000)

Bernard Haitink, Amsterdam Concertgebouw  Orchestra, live 16 November 1969, in 14-CD set Anthology of the Royal Concertgebouw Live The Radio Recordings vol. 3 1960-1970, RCO Live RCO 05001 (2005)

Rafael Kubelik, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 27-29 November 1970. Deutsche Grammophon

Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 12-14 April 1971, Decca/London

to be continued (and reviewed)


Symphony No. 9 :

Bruno Walter with the Vienna Philharmonic, 15-16 January 1938 on EMI

Hermann Scherchen live with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, 19 June 1950 on Orfeo

Jascha Horenstein with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, June 1952, Vox

Leopold Ludwig with the London Symphony Orchestra, 17-20 November 1959, on Everest, first version in stereo

Bruno Walter with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, January-February 1961, CBS-Sony

John Barbirolli with the Berlin Philharmonic, 10-18 January 1964, EMI

Kirill Kondrashin, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, May 1964, Melodiya

Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic, 16 December 1965, CBS-Sony

Karel Ancerl, Czech Philharmonic, 7-15 April 1966, Supraphon

Otto Klemperer, New Philharmonia Orchestra, 15 February 1967, EMI

Rafael Kubelik, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, February-March 1967, DG

Georg Solti, London Symphony Orchestra, April-May 1967, Decca

Václav Neumann, Gewandhaus Leipzig Orchestra, November 1967, Eterna (CD Reissues Berlin Classics, Brilliant Classics)

Maurice Abravanel, Utah Symphony Orchestra, April 1969, Vanguard

Carlo Maria Giulini, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 5-6 April 1976, DG


More documentary resources:

Mahler et la France, published by Théâtre du Châtelet in 1988



Comments are welcome