Susan M. Filler’s Gustav and Alma Mahler: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge, 2008)

The second edition of Susan M. Filler’s Gustav and Alma Mahler: A Research and Information Guide (published by Routledge, 2008) intends to provide a representation of the current state of Mahler literature, which ranges from standard musicological publications by accepted scholars to novelty, nonprofessional explorations of Mahler’s symphonies via poetry. With her selection, Filler specifically hopes to interest literature specialists and also to show the wide range of literature available to all Mahler researchers regardless of nationality.

The Guide is composed of 1,356 citations, which consist predominantly of scholarly articles, books, and encyclopedia entries as well as a clutch of highly selected doctoral dissertations, festschriften, and published program notes. Over 18 languages are represented including Yiddish, Slovene, Russian, and Romanian. Included works emphasize eyewitness accounts regarding the lives and performances of Gustav and Alma Mahler, biographies by post-war scholars, medico-psychological studies, musicological studies placing the Mahlers in historical context, individual analyses of works, and literary sources set to music by the Mahlers. Excluded are performance reviews from periodicals, biographies of other composers without substantial eyewitness accounts relating to the Mahlers; obituaries and social notices, unpublished sources, program notes from individual performances, and general histories of music save for those providing valuable insight into Mahler’s music and reception.

The work is organized into 25 sections, the contents of which are as follows: Introduction, Gustav and Alma Mahler: A Brief Chronology, Classified Listing of Mahler’s Works, Surviving Works of Alma Mahler-Werfel, List of Abbreviations, Compendia, Encyclopedia References, Catalogs and Lists, History, Visuals, Biographies, Mahler’s Letters, Conducing Activities, Alma Mahler-Werfel, Literary Influences, Publishers, Mahler’s Place in Musical History, Reception/Historiography, Media and Criticism, Philosophical Views, Mahler’s Works, Facsimiles, Individual Analyses, Other Works, and Miscellaneous. It concludes with an Author Index and a Subject Index. Entries in the works lists provide information on title, movements, date of composition, publication data, premieres, and remarks by the author. Within the bibliographic sections, each entry is annotated in addition to a complete bibliographic citation which often includes the ISBN.

There are many positive aspects to be found in this publication. The subject index is detailed and specific, so one can quickly and exactly find what one needs. Also the author has consciously included works of lesser quality in order to properly document the full progression of Mahler studies. On the whole, annotations are thoughtful and helpful throughout and this is particularly useful with regard to Third Reich literature, which is fairly evaluated for its historical merit.

Conversely, careless readers misunderstanding the author’s approach will inevitably be directed to sources of poor quality; but the more substantial drawback is that many cited resources may not be readily accessible to those looking for a quick research fix.

At present, no reviews for the second edition were found; however, the first edition has been reviewed by:

1. Birchler, David C. Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association 47 (March 1991): 759.

2. Franklin, Peter. Music and Letters 72 (February 1991): 134.

3. Schreffler, Anne C. Journal of Musicological Research 12 (March 1992): 11.

4. Kravitt, Edward F. The Music Review 52 (November 1991): 312.