program: mahler

He always raved about Mahler. When I asked him which of his symphonies he rated highest, he hesitated and answered: ‘The First, to be sure, also the Second… and the Third… and also the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh… and the Eighth is marvellous… and the Ninth! And also the Tenth! But if someone told me that I had only one more hour to live, I would want to listen to the last movement of Das Lied von der Erde.

Krzysztof Meyer on Dmitri Shostakovich

Hey, I feel the same way, Shosty. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

Symphony No.5, I. Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng Wie Ein Kondukt
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eliahu Inbal
Symphony No.5, I. Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng Wie Ein Kondukt

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).

As a composer, Mahler acted as a bridge between the 19th-century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era.

The Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler was composed in 1901 and 1902, mostly during the summer months at Mahler’s cottage at Maiernigg. Among its most distinctive features are the trumpet solo that opens the work; The musical canvas and emotional scope of the work, which lasts over an hour, are huge.

After 1945 Mahler’s music was rediscovered and championed by a new generation of listeners; He then became a frequently performed and recorded composer, a position he has sustained into the 21st century.

…our hearts are gripped by a voice of awe-inspiring solemnity, which we seldom or never hear above the deafening traffic of mundane affairs. “What next?” it says. What is life–and what is death?

Have we any continuing existence?

Is it all an empty dream, or has this life of ours, and our death, a meaning?
If we are to go on living, we must answer this question.

—  Program notes for Mahler Symphony No. 2 written by Mahler for a 1901 Dresden performance