Friday 8 January 2010

This year and next's composer anniversary

Mahler has managed the double by having 1860-1911 as his dates. Fine by me.

The Times has a quick guide to his symphonies.

Mahler’s symphonies: what you need to know

No1 Also known as: The Titan
Four years after Brahms’s Fourth, the symphony goes feral. Includes a funeral march with added klezmer.

No2 The Resurrection
Mahler’s most obvious response to Beethoven’s Ninth, as a ride to the abyss finishes with choral salvation

No3 The one with a poem by Nietzsche
Mahler’s response to, well, everything, including plants, animals, mankind and, ultimately, love itself.

No4 The shortest one
Mahler scales back and adds sleigh bells. Culminates in a “child’s view of heaven”, which apparently includes abundant asparagus.

No5 The one used in Death in Venice
High on the “best of” lists, with the swooingly gorgeous Adagietto.

No6 The Tragic
Mahler’s most tightly constructed symphony, with the rarity of a fatalistic conclusion.

No 7 The unpopular one
The weirdest and shadowiest, with two movements of “night music” Also has a part for a mandolin.

No 8 The Symphony of a Thousand
Intended for a thousand performers, the choral symphony is still a monster and concludes with a huge chunk from Goethe’s Faust.

No 9 The farewell to life (possibly)
Either saturated with death or full of affection for a life well lived, depending on your POV.

No 10 The unfinished
Possibly we shouldn’t even be performing it. Mahler only orchestrated the adagio, the rest was completed (twice) by the musicologist Deryck Cooke.
Neil Fisher

1860 is also the year my Great great grandmother was born in Co Clare. The eldest of 13 children, all of whom survived, she was picked out at 10 and told by the local Priest that she would be a teacher when he built a school in a nearby village. She became a teacher and appears in the 1880 census as such. The dozen younger siblings? They all emigrated to America.


Mark said...

I have also heard No 5 called "Kein Deutsches Himmel". Not sure why.

leutgeb said...

Me neither.

I like No.7, here called, 'the unpopular one,' not by me. Starts moodily in Bminor, has the groovy Nachtmusik movements featuring the Castrol GTX advert music and goes out with a blaze of C major Meistersingermusik.

Seth said...

I think no. 1 remains my all-time favourite (among my favourite of all symphonies in fact - it has the added advantage of a splendid harp part, which is my instrument... so few composers can write properly for the harp); but I remember being absolutely knocked out by a performance of no.9 once in Bristol. Couldn't talk for ages afterwards - tried listening to it since and couldn't get into it at all. Weird how music does that sometimes!

leutgeb said...

I like 1 too - not sure how any apect of it could be described as 'feral.'

As to harps I once heard the LPO doing M9 from the back of the balcony of the RFH and the harp plinks in the last mvt were almost inaudible over some pesky bag rustling behind me! I'd paid £5 for that seat!