Guest Profile – Jerry Bruck

Jerry Bruck

Since arriving in New York in 1961—as performances of Mahler’s music in America began to gain a foothold at last—Jerry Bruck has cemented a reputation as a recording engineer specializing in classical music. Along the way he worked at radio stations in St. Louis and New York as a broadcast engineer, and became Governor, Fellow and life member of the Audio Engineering Society. Jerry is also a founding member of the Gustav Mahler Society of New York and a member of the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft in Vienna. He recorded most of the MahlerFest concerts between 1995 and 2015.

In 1962, Jerry presented the first radio broadcast cycle of Mahler’s music over New York’s WBAI-FM. These 14 two-hour programs featured extensive biographical material, including interviews with musicians and other people who knew Mahler. Research for this project led him to Mahler’s widow, Alma. In April 1963, with Jack Diether and conductor Harold Byrns, he played for Alma the tape of the BBC’s broadcast lecture and performance—now known as Cooke I—that eventually convinced her to lift her ban on completions of her husband’s Tenth Symphony. A few months later, with WBAI music director John Corigliano, Jr., he recorded an interview of Alma and Anna Mahler, nearly a year before Alma’s death.

With that interview Jerry began a lasting friendship with Mahler’s daughter, Anna, who gave him the legal rights to Mahler’s early Piano Quartet. He has a small collection of Mahler memorabilia, some original manuscript pages he received from Anna, a few letters, and a plaster cast he laboriously remolded from Mahler’s death mask (which Dika Newlin had preserved among her artifacts).

Jerry agreed to allow Mahler’s early Piano Quartet to be performed at Lincoln Center, with Peter Serkin and the Galimir Quartet. Later, with Anna’s approval, Jerry was directly responsible for the release of “Waldmärchen,” Mahler’s suppressed first movement of his cantata Das klagende Lied. He also helped bring about American premieres of both the Wheeler and the Cooke realizations of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. He produced and engineered the first commercial recording of Mahler’s five-movement First Symphony (with the “Blumine” movement) for CBS/Odyssey. Decades later, he and Peter McGrath recorded it with James Judd and the Florida Philharmonic.

In 1971, Jerry was awarded the Mahler Medal of the Bruckner Society of America, presented to him by Jack Diether.

In addition to many classical records and CDs, Jerry Bruck has recorded sound for a variety of Mahler-related film and video projects. His recording of Wheeler’s performing version of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony (for which he wrote the liner notes) is available from the Colorado MahlerFest. By now he has recorded all of Mahler’s symphonies, Das klagende Lied, and Das Lied von der Erde in live concerts, including CD releases of the Third and Sixth Symphonies for Titanic Records (which included Jerry’s liner notes).  Jerry recorded the concert performances featured in Jason Starr’s three documentaries on Mahler works: Of Love, Death and Beyond: Exploring Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony; What the Universe Tells Me, on Mahler’s Third Symphony; and Everywhere & Forever: Mahler’s Song of the Earth.

Jerry Bruck’s monograph on the movement order in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony, entitled “Undoing a ‘Tragic’ Mistake,” was published and distributed worldwide by the Kaplan Foundation in The Correct Movement Order in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony (2004). Intended to restore the correct order of the symphony’s inner movements in modern performances and recordings, it was the basis for the reversed inner-movement order in the New Critical Edition of the Sixth, published by C. F. Peters in 2010.

During the MahlerFest XXX Symposium, Jerry will be assisted  by Louise Bloomfield, his wife.