The dedicatee of these
songs - named simply ‘Josephine' on the title page - was
first identified in 1921 in an article by Dr Rudolf Stephan
Hoffmann (RSHUJM). As he makes clear, he was
given access to the manuscript of the collection by its owner,
Frau Justine Rosé, Mahler's sister, and it appears that in thanks
for this he sent her a
proof copy of the article (CDN-Lu Mahler-Rose Collection
OS-MD-698). It was presumably Justine who provided the
little information he was able to divulge about 'Josephine':
[Die drei Lieder] verdankt ihr
Enstehen einer Jugendleidenschaft für die, der die
Widmung galt. Es war ein Fräulein Josephine Poisl,
von der ich nichts weiter weiß, als daß sie die
Tochter des Beamten, der damals in Iglau dem Postamt
vorstand, daß sie später geheiratet hat, und „schon
lang in der Ferne weilt”, aus der es keine
The three songs
owe their existence to a youthful passion for the
recipient of the dedication. This was a Miss
Josephine Poisl, of who I know nothing beyond the
fact that she was the daughter of an official who at
that time worked at the Post Office in Iglau, that
she later married, and 'for some time has wandered
in the distance place', from which there is no
For Mahler, at least, the love affair was
serious and he kept a collection of letters and other documents
connected with it for the rest of his life. He had taught the
sisters Josefa and Anna Poisl piano in the summer of 1879, and
from this his infatuation grew.
However, Frl. Poisl's father did
not consider Mahler a suitable suitor for his daughter, and in
June wrote to Mahler forbidding him to write to her. Shortly
afterwards she married Julius Wallner (born c. 1851),¹
a teacher at the Staatsgymnasium in Iglau, who went on to have a successful professional career. By the late 1880s he had moved
to Laibach where he was professor at the Obergymnasium until the
announcement on 13 July 1894 that he would return to Iglau
to take over as Director of
the Staatsgymnasium; five years later a further
when, in September 1899 he was
appointed Director of the German-language Gymnasium in Brünn.
Wallner retired in 1906 and was
awarded the title of Regierungsrat.
Alongside his professional work Wallner
was also an amateur historian who undertook research in a number
of areas, including the early history of
education in Iglau and 17th and 18th-century painters and
sculptors in Laibach.²
1887/8 he was for many years a corresponding member of the
Centralkommission für Kunst- und
historische Denkmale and prepared at least two reports
monastic buildings in Croatia published by the Commission.
After his retirement Wallner moved to Graz and died there, in
his 63rd year, on
18 March 1914. Unfortunately recent research has not shed
any further light on Josephine herself, or established the date
of her death. However there is some evidence that might offer
clues about her later life. In August 1896 Julius and his
(unnamed) wife registered at guests at the
Gasthof zum Wilden Mann at Bad Ischl, an indication that
they had achieved at least modest middle-class affluence; at the
time Mahler was 22 kilometres away, at Steinbach am Attersee
where he had completed the draft of the Third Symphony earlier
in the summer. Six years later, in August 1902, Wallner again
stayed in Ischl, this time at the
Hôtel dem schwarzen Adler, but not with his wife, only his
son. There could be have been many reasons for Josephine's
absence, but, particularly in light of Hoffmann's reference, it
seems possible that she had died in the intervening period.
Franz Willnauer's suggestion that the
Frühlingsboten (Spring greetings) that Mahler told
Josephine he was sending her in a letter dated 18 March 1880,
were in fact the three completed songs of the collection, is not
wholly implausible. However, if the sole surviving manuscript
was that gift, how did it end up in Justine's possession?
If it was not, then there must have been another autograph
Jeremy Barham has conjectured that the two other poems Mahler appears to have written in
early 1880 – Vergessene Liebe and „Kam ein Sonnenstrahl‟
824–26 and the transcriptions included with the
texts of the first three songs) were intended for the projected fourth and fifth songs that were never
composed because of the abrupt ending of his relationship with
Taken together the songs
demand a tenor with a wide compass: (at sounding pitch) from A
('Maitanz im Grünen') to b'
('Winterlied') or c'' if the ossia is taken in 'Im Lenz'.
‘Im Lenz’ shares an extended passage
Das klagende Lied: bb.
14–27 of the song make their first appearance (a fifth lower in
pitch) in bb. 302–14 (1880)/bb. 294–307 (1902) of Der Spielmann,
and is heard again in bb. 202–207 (1880)/bb. 200–205 (1902) of
Im Lenz, bb.
Das klagende Lied: Der Spielmann
1902), bb. 294–307
short score of this movement (Das klagende Lied, SS2) is dated 21 March 1880, so it seems
likely that the passage was first conceived in the context of
The last completed song, 'Maitanz im Grünen',
was subsequently transposed upwards and revised to
become 'Hans und Grete', the third song
in volume I of the
Lieder und Gesänge, published in 1892.
Because the original song had an usually wide vocal range – A-a'
(sounding pitch) – Mahler had to modify the higher passages when
transposing the song.
SWXIII/5: Gustav Mahler, Verscheidene
Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Klavier, Sämtliche Werke,
Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Band XIII Teilband 5, ed. Zoltan Roman ([S.l.]: