Guest Profile – Frans Bouwman

Frans Bouwman

When the young Frans Bouwman heard the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in his father’s 78 rpm recording by the Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, it led to a lifelong passion for the music of Mahler.

At the age of 14, Bouwman started piano lessons and five years later he entered the class of Gerard Hengeveld at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. While working at the municipal library, Bouwman discovered a facsimile edition of Mahler’s 10th Symphony, published in 1924 by Paul Zsolnay.  At that time, British musicologist Deryck Cooke was already on his way to complete what would become the first performing version of the symphony. The Cooke version, which to this day remains the standard performing version of the symphony, would be published in 1976, but the young Bouwman was already corresponded with Cooke by the end of the 1960s.

During his studies at the conservatory, Frans Bouwman completed an arrangement of Mahler’s 10th for two pianos. The premiere was performed by Bouwman and his wife, the pianist Katy Satur. He completed his piano studies in 1975, the same year in which Deryck Cooke’s performing version received its Dutch premiere by the The Hague Residentie Orchestra under the baton of Jean Martinon. After completing his piano studies, Bouwman went on to study at the University of Utrecht, where he studied with Marius Flothuis. He received his Bachelor degree in musicology.

In 1986, a Mahler X Symposium was held in Utrecht, Netherlands. During this symposium, the performing versions of Mahler’s 10th Symphony by Deryck Cooke and Clinton Carpenter were programmed as well as the premiere of a new version by Remo Mazzetti.  Bouwman was engaged to proof read both the full score and the individual orchestra parts of the Mazzetti version using his copy of Mahler’s manuscript to find and rectify many errors.

In 1997, Bouwman received an invitation to collaborate on the Joseph Wheeler performing version at the Colorado MahlerFest in Boulder Colorado. After this collaboration, the conductor Rudolf Barshai invited Bouwman to work with him on his performing version. It would mark the beginning of a long collaboration that ultimately resulted in the Barshai version of Mahler’s 10th Symphony. More recently it was the young Israeli conductor Yoel Gamzou who also drew on the extensive and intimate knowledge that Bouwman possesses of Mahler’s unfinished symphony, leading to the publication of the Gamzou version in 2010.  Currently, Frans is corresponding with Colin Matthews and Peter Wadl about a new edition of the Cooke realization which they hope to have published by Faber.

Bouwman collaborated on the book “Perspectives on Mahler” and has been published in The Musical Times and in the International Gustav Mahler Society’s publication “Mahler News”. The focus of Frans Bouwman’s scholarly work has been the creation of a complete and annotated transcription of all the surviving sketches of the unfinished manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s 10th Symphony. In this critical edition, all the surviving manuscript pages in their various compositional stages will be presented for the first time in their entirety and in one comprehensive edition. The British composer Colin Matthews, who collaborated with Deryck Cooke on his performing version back in the 1960s, supports Bouwman in his efforts. The publication of the critical edition is planned for 2017.

For his MahlerFest XXX presentation, Frans will focus on the following areas:

  1. His years of involvement with Mahler’s 10th Symphony.
  2. A survey of his cooperation with Cooke et al, Mazzetti, Wheeler, Barshai and Gamzou and his work on their performing versions.
  3. An explanation of his original three part transcription project: diplomatic, emended and critical.
  4. A list of discrepancies between Mahler’s early and late sketches and different editions (the core of his lecture).
  5. A survey of piano versions old and new (Block, Shostakovich, La Grange, Scarpini and White as well as Bouwman’s three versions).