Author Topic: Mahler Mania, Rebooted  (Read 516578 times)

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Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4460 on: November 17, 2019, 03:53:42 AM »
What year were you born?  1870?
1995, actually.  ;D

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4461 on: November 17, 2019, 07:38:55 AM »
1995, actually.  ;D

I guess I didn't follow your comment about "what other symphony starts that way [as Mahler 9]" which seemed like you were comparing symphonies to Brahms era and ignoring all that came after that.  Anyway, my point was stupid or could have been better worded.  Why wouldn't you consider Shosti 11 opening similar to Mahler 9 for example?  Gliere 3?  Haug 1 and 2?  I didn't really follow your reasoning for saying what other work starts like M9 unless you meant contemporaneously to M9.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4462 on: November 17, 2019, 09:34:56 AM »
I guess I didn't follow your comment about "what other symphony starts that way [as Mahler 9]" which seemed like you were comparing symphonies to Brahms era and ignoring all that came after that.  Anyway, my point was stupid or could have been better worded.  Why wouldn't you consider Shosti 11 opening similar to Mahler 9 for example?  Gliere 3?  Haug 1 and 2?  I didn't really follow your reasoning for saying what other work starts like M9 unless you meant contemporaneously to M9.
Yes, I meant contemporaneously to Mahler's 9th. Not contemporaneous to Brahms. And certainly not in terms of later music. Even in light of the music that came after, in what way is the opening to Mahler's 9th conventional? Just because that Shostakovich symphony might start out in a similar way (keeping in mind that Shostakovich was heavily influenced by Mahler, after all), that doesn't mean that Mahler's 9th is suddenly conventional.

Offline Herman

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4463 on: November 17, 2019, 10:32:41 AM »
We also made the mistake of playing the entirety of Wagner’s Ring Cycle over another weekend. I was a mess at the end of that little exercise as were a few others. I can’t understand how live audiences will inflict the same discipline on themselves at Beirut.

Maybe you overdosed. The place is Bayreuth.  ;)

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4464 on: November 17, 2019, 12:29:38 PM »
Funnily enough at the first Ring performance some of the stage props (made in England) never arrived because they were mistakenly sent to Beirut instead. So Seigfried fought Fafner the dragon who had no neck section and it seemed like the Germanic hero was simply being cruel to a disabled reptile! True story.

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4465 on: November 17, 2019, 04:19:13 PM »
Funnily enough at the first Ring performance some of the stage props (made in England) never arrived because they were mistakenly sent to Beirut instead. So Seigfried fought Fafner the dragon who had no neck section and it seemed like the Germanic hero was simply being cruel to a disabled reptile! True story.


 :laugh: :laugh:

That's one of the funniest things I've ever read here. I sincerely hope that the missing dragon parts are still in a Lebanese museum somewhere...

... I wonder if they ever have mini Wagner festivals in Beirut. That would actually be a great idea.

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4466 on: November 17, 2019, 04:56:11 PM »
Yes, I meant contemporaneously to Mahler's 9th. Not contemporaneous to Brahms. And certainly not in terms of later music. Even in light of the music that came after, in what way is the opening to Mahler's 9th conventional? Just because that Shostakovich symphony might start out in a similar way (keeping in mind that Shostakovich was heavily influenced by Mahler, after all), that doesn't mean that Mahler's 9th is suddenly conventional.

Thanks for that extra context.  Now I understand what I meant. 

Offline Jo498

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4467 on: November 18, 2019, 12:22:29 AM »
This is probably beside the point but I don't think that the beginning of DSCH 11 is like Mahler 9 at all. It's somewhat similar to Mahler 1. And supposedly both depict dawn/daybreak, so that's even less surprising.
As it is impossible to listen to pieces that are 100 or 200 or more years old "fresh" like a contemporary would have heard them, one should not stress this point (strange, shocking, unconventional etc. for a contemporary) too much. But I don't think it is irrelevant and often helpful to get a better perspective on a piece.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4468 on: February 12, 2020, 11:53:47 AM »
A good deal of Mahler on ClassicsToday. This one from me:



https://www.classicstoday.com/review/gattis-fine-concertgebouw-video-mahler/

As with cocaine from a dodgy dealer, you never know what you get with Daniele Gatti:
An enormous high or a bum experience. Whereas my information on the former is based
on hearsay, the latter is based on repeat exposure, with an array of both...

This is Victor Carr Jr. on YNS's M8


https://www.classicstoday.com/review/nezet-seguins-dehydrated-mahler-8th/


...and Hurwitz on Vanska's M4. (Which I reviewed for the Klassik-Heute (formerly the German sister-site of ClassicsToday),
wondering how David H. would feel about it, because he's slammed Vanska's Mahler so far and I found this one reall
rather good.


https://www.classicstoday.com/review/vanskas-much-improved-mahler-4th/




Online Mandryka

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4469 on: March 12, 2020, 05:13:08 AM »
I believe the first performance of the 8th had over 800 musicians.

Is there an extreme large scale recording?
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Biffo

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4470 on: March 12, 2020, 05:30:04 AM »
I believe the first performance of the 8th had over 800 musicians.

Is there an extreme large scale recording?

According to the booklet for the Chailly/Concertgebouw recording Mahler had a chorus of 850 (this included 350 boys) and an orchestra of 170. There is no indication of how many took part in Chailly's recording.

Judging by the photo of Solti's recording session in Vienna (with the Chicago SO) he had considerably fewer. I am sure someone will no the answer to your question.

Offline relm1

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4471 on: March 12, 2020, 06:17:03 AM »
I believe the first performance of the 8th had over 800 musicians.

Is there an extreme large scale recording?

The Dudamel recording had over 1,000 performers. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrH9Kh2vOpo

I was in the front row for the performance about five feet from the vocalist.  She and her singing were so beautiful, I immediately fell in love with her and we are now facebook friends.  :)
« Last Edit: March 12, 2020, 06:19:18 AM by relm1 »

Online Mandryka

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4472 on: March 12, 2020, 06:25:36 AM »
Thanks for these responses. I’ve been listening to Boulez’s 1975 London prom performance, which set me thinking.

When it was written, was there any precedent for anything on such a scale?

Unfortunately I don’t have La Grange’s books to see what he says about it.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline Biffo

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4473 on: March 12, 2020, 08:52:06 AM »
Thanks for these responses. I’ve been listening to Boulez’s 1975 London prom performance, which set me thinking.

When it was written, was there any precedent for anything on such a scale?

Unfortunately I don’t have La Grange’s books to see what he says about it.

Berlioz employed very large forces for his Requiem, Te Deum and Funeral and Triumphal Symphony - the size varied depending on the venue and what was available. He performed other works with large forces in very large venues - would need to look them up. Apparently there was a tradition dating from the Revolutionary period for performing works with massive forces.

He was also inspired by hearing a concert in St Paul's Cathedral with a huge choir of children. In the 19th century Messiah was sometimes performed with a huge chorus.

I don't know if it was common in the Austro-German lands that Mahler knew.

Online Mandryka

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4474 on: March 12, 2020, 10:29:52 AM »
Berlioz employed very large forces for his Requiem, Te Deum and Funeral and Triumphal Symphony - the size varied depending on the venue and what was available. He performed other works with large forces in very large venues - would need to look them up. Apparently there was a tradition dating from the Revolutionary period for performing works with massive forces.

He was also inspired by hearing a concert in St Paul's Cathedral with a huge choir of children. In the 19th century Messiah was sometimes performed with a huge chorus.

I don't know if it was common in the Austro-German lands that Mahler knew.

Interesting. I'm going to try to listen to Dudamel. Having extremely large forces must make quite a difference to the feel of the music.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline André

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4475 on: March 21, 2020, 06:45:04 AM »

A friend sent me this (very detailed) description of the 1920 Mahler Festival. It is really worth a reading. It was a huge event. Attendees included Schönberg, Webern, Alma Mahler, Nadia Boulanger, Carl Nielsen, Johan Alvorsen, Alfredo Casella, Egon Wellesz, Adolf Busch, Artur Schnabel, Florent Schmitt, Cyril Scott, Adrian Boult, Klemperer, Hermann Abendroth and many renowned Dutch composers (Dopper, Zweers, Diepenbrock, Wagenaar, Röntgen, etc.)

There is a long description by composer Egon Wellesz that gives fascinating insights into the event. Another interesting article is the one at the end, which traces the lineage between Nadia Boulanger (close friend of Mengelberg), who brought back Mahler scores to Paris, and Aaron Copland, who studied her Mahler scores when studying under Boulanger, then to Bernstein, who discovered Mahler through the advocacy of Copland.

Quote

May 1920 : Mahler Festival in Amsterdam.

First conductor, all the concerts : Willem Mengelberg ; second conductor, rehearsals : Cornelis Dopper.
Soloists
Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius (soprano) . Adolf Busch (violin) .
Alexander Schmuller (violin) .
Alfredo Casella (piano) .
Carl Flesch (violin) .
Cornelis Dopper (harmonium) .
Cyril Scott (piano) .
Dirk Speets (first trumpet, « Concertgebouw » Orchestra) .
Elise Menage Challa (soprano) .
Gertrude Förstel (soprano) .
Gerard von Brucken Fock (piano) .
Haagmans (trombone, tenor horn, « Concertgebouw » Orchestra) . Hans Duhan (baritone) .
Ilona Durigo (alto) .
Jacques Urlus (tenor) .
                     
 Joseph Groenen (baritone) .
Judith Bokor (cello) .
Leonid Kreutzer (piano) .
Louis Robert (organ) .
Louis Zimmermann (violinist, « Concertgebouw » Orchestra) . Marix Loevensohn (cellist, « Concertgebouw » Orchestra) . Meta Reidel (alto) .
Moritz Loevensohn (cello) .
Oscar Back (violin) .
Sarah Charles Cahier (alto) . Sang at the creation of « Das Lied von der Erde » in 1911. Sigrid Hoffmann-Onegin (alto) .
Thomas Denijs (bass) .
Willem Andriessen (piano) .
Ensembles
: Karel Hoffmann (1st violin) , Josef Suk (2nd violin) , Jeří Herold (viola) , Ladislav Zelenka
: Herman Leydensdorff (1st violin) , Bram Mendes (2nd violin) , Corf Kint (viola) , Thomas Canivez
« Apollo » Choir. Director : Frederic Roeske. « Toonkunst » Choir.
« Kunst na Arbeid » Male Choir.
               Bohemian String Quartet
 (cello) .
  Dutch String Quartet
 (cello) .
   
  « Volkszang » Boys Choir. Director : Herman Johannes den Hertog. « Madrigaal Vereniging » .

...

During the 15 days of the « Mahler Feest » in May 1920, orchestra and conductor perform the 9 completed
 Symphonies, « Das klagende Lied » , « Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen » , « Kindertotenlieder » , « Das Lied von der
 Erde » and the 5 « Rückert-Lieder » .

 Present are Alma Mahler (who is staying on the « Museumplein » with a noble lady) and Arnold Schœnberg, another
 of Mengelberg’s « protégés » .

Alma noted :

 « Arrival in Amsterdam ... port ... ships’ masts ... rigging ... hustle and bustle ... chilly, overcast ... in a nutshell, Holland. Evening, Mahler’s Second in an unsurpassed performance. »

........

«  Just as Bayreuth has become the model and the standard for all performances of Wagner’s works, Amsterdam has
 been made the spiritual centre of Mahler’s art. »
 These are the words of its organiser, Doctor Rudolf Mengelberg, a distant cousin of the conductor’s. Amsterdam would
 become the foremost Mahler city.
         
 The festival ended with the Symphony No. 8. The Ninth was not performed. At the time, Symphony No. 9 was still seen
 as Mahler's swan-song (sketches for the incomplete Symphony No. 10 were not published until 1923) , and was played
 on the anniversary of Mahler's death on May 15 with the earnest request that the audience withhold their applause
 at the end of the concert in memory of the composer.
 Afterwards, the Festival was characterized as the « Peace Conference of Amsterdam » because the participants who
 came from so many different countries found each other in a sharing a universal feeling.
 
..

 In May 1920, the 1st ever Mahler Festival was held in Amsterdam under the conductor Willem Mengelberg. The Viennese composer Egon Wellesz wrote a detailed report on the events in two separate articles for the Neue Freie Presse :

17 May 1920 : « Neue Freie Presse » , Doctor Egon Wellesz: ...
 
It’s a degree of recognition that no other composer could possibly expect. In the coming days, here in Amsterdam, we
 shall hear the complete works of Gustav Mahler. A sequence of events and coincidences has meant that the combination of a culture-mad citizenry, along with conductor Willem Mengelberg have established Amsterdam as a citadel where his Symphonies are cultivated as nowhere else. Thus, a circle is completed that started with genius, inflamed a conductor to be the prophet of new, never-heard-before beauty, a new greatness and now having inspired a large community, they in devoted gratitude, return to their provider in order to honour him.
 
Willem Mengelberg has been conductor of the « Concertgebouw » Orchestra in Amsterdam for 25 years - he has
 brought it to a standard that could never have been imagined. One has no feeling of any separation between
 musicians and conductor ; rather together, they form a higher-unity that grows closer in the course of performance.
 This is an understanding that can only develop over a period of decades of mutual hard work and discipline. The best
 is merely just good enough. This singleness of purpose between conductor and Orchestra is even carried over to the
 public who, over the years, have come to understand the works of Mahler as nowhere else - not even in Vienna itself.
 It was here, in Amsterdam, that Mahler enjoyed his 1st, unqualified success ; and it was from here that he returned
 home with new inspiration and a desire to carry-out new work. It was here that, in 1903, he conducted his 1st and
 3rd, in 1904 ; his 2nd and 4th, in 1906 ; his 5th and 7th, in 1909. And if one takes in the number of performances
 conducted by Mengelberg which were taking place around the same time as those conducted by the controversial
 Mahler, then once can come to appreciate how it is that the Chorus and the Orchestra have become the composer’s
 own instruments of choice : Amsterdam is to the cultivation and preservation of Mahler’s music what Bayreuth, in its
 more glorious years, was to Wagner.

 Isn’t it odd that, as a Viennese, one has to travel to Amsterdam to celebrate Mahler’s 60th birthday ? Vienna, which is
 so besotted with both the arts and artists, simply ignored this event. And it is here in dour but appreciative
 Amsterdam, that the spirit of Mahler thrives. Everyone here appears to have known him, to have adored and valued
 him. His eccentricities were met with the healthy respect one brings to such personalities - personalities in which such
 things are both anticipated and appreciated. The spirit that dwells in his Symphonies, the mystic and the religious are
 deeply felt. The reception here has been open for the broadest arc of his creativity ; the significance of the most
 minute detail followed him here. One maintained in this city, without betraying oneself or one’s artistic opinions, a
 respectful distance to the artist.

 Mengelberg was meant to have received a particular recognition from his friends in Amsterdam ; instead of personal
 recognition, he requested that Amsterdam be the city where a Mahler Festival could be held to which people from all
 over the world would come in order the hear all of Mahler’s work in Mengelberg’s definitive interpretation. The still
 unclear (political) relationships which continue to plague our world today did not seem to represent the slightest
 hindrance to this goal. The Festival committee took-up the challenge with unprecedented generosity. It was decided to
 make those participants from beyond the Dutch borders Holland’s special guests (they covered the arrangements for
 travel, accommodation and all expenses) only because of this act of generosity was it possible for us Viennese to
attend.

The journey started in a happy mood for our small group of fellow-travellers in the comfortable, not too crowded carriages of the « Holland Express » .We crossed all borders without difficulties and arrived without any delays in Amsterdam.We were met by members of the Festival committee who took charge of our luggage and brought us all
 to our respective quarters : some in hotels and some in private accommodation. The tickets to all of the events were
 already waiting for us in our quarters, along with the programme. Everything worked perfectly : nothing was forgotten
 - every need, no matter how trivial was met. The Viennese were met with particular generosity and courtesy. The locals
 are well-aware of the deprivations and difficulties we still suffer in our homeland and have tried their best to make us
 as comfortable as possible, if only to make their sympathy and understanding clear to us, that even abroad, we are
 united by a shared, and valued culture. It was in this context that the Viennese were accorded the principal addresses
 in the opening events.

 « Hofrat » (Imperial Court Council ; a uniquely Austrian title) Guido Adler opened the events with a warmly
 appreciative speech in Mahler’s memory that touched on the artist and the man. He spoke of their common home and
 their youthful years together along with their very 1st departure into the wide world. He spoke about the roots of
 Mahler’s creativity and its relationship with the nature of the folk-song, march rhythms and (militaristic) signal calls
 that characterize his works. He recalled both the military and the country-folk poetry that would develop into his «
 Wunderhornlieder » .

 Paul Stefan gave a lively speech without notes about Mahler, the Theatre director. He sketched-out in short sections
 what Mahler had contributed to the stage-craft of Opera and how he managed to force the visual presentation to ever
 more fantastic and enchanting images - he outlined everything that he achieved in order to reach never imagined
 experiences. Both speeches were received with the greatest of sympathy. The 3rd speech was delivered by the Italian
 Alfredo Casella who has also spent a good deal of time in France. His speech was a profound declaration for a new,
 international life of the artistic and intellectual spirit. He accentuated how for the 1st time since the end of the War,
 people from all countries had come together where the concepts of friend, foe and neutral no longer existed - such
 was the spirit of Mahler that had been able to create this unity. He concluded with something we all felt :
 « Art has always existed apart from worldly matters. It will no longer be debased or exalted as a means of
 propaganda that supports or defiles different peoples. Humanity now unites those who previously had called each other
 enemies. To the ruthlessness of war-fare that had previously broken all spiritual bonds and after the flood of hate and distrust had now appeared the dove of peace. »

 One arrives in the auditorium of the « Concertgebouw » for the very 1st Festival event. The podium is covered with
 wreaths of red azaleas and laurel trees have been placed behind the seating for the Chorus that surrounds the
 Orchestra. At the very front is a bust of Mahler. Mengelberg walks-out to applause that last many minutes, followed by
 a vacuum-like silence. He makes a gesture and the Chorus rises without a sound. A sharp wrap of the baton and we
 hear the opening of « Das Klagende Lied » .

 A rehearsal with Mengelberg : the hall is divided from the stage by a large curtain - where, normally, the Chorus are
 sat, we find musicians and conductors from everywhere in the world, whom Mengelberg has specially invited to observe
 him at work. It is only here since Mahler’s own lifetime that it is possible to experience what a rehearsal of one of
 his works should be. External perfection is demanded and any passage that even slightly sounds shoddy is repeated.
 After the general rehearsal, Mengelberg meets the strings the following day to rehearse a particular figure in the 1st
 achieves the intensity of desired expression. There was never a loud or discourteous word. The Orchestra knows that
 everything he demands is fully-justified and yields without question to his will.

 Mengelberg’s significance in this city is felt in the manner by which all of Amsterdam is caught-up in the spirit of the
 Festival. The music shops all offer scores of Mahler Symphonies in their displays, and the book-stores all offer copies of
 a publication in honour of Mengelberg, meant as a permanent manifestation of what he has achieved. The original
 consists in its entirety of 7 volumes of testimonies (including a volume of drawings) by musicians and important
 personalities of his time. It was presented to him in special chest designed by (Jan) Toorop, which now holds pride of
 place in his home, itself a tiny museum filled with paintings, wood-cuttings and stained glass. One notes that the
 influence of this man extends well beyond his own discipline as conductor. His mere presence has had a galvanizing
 and determining effect on all the local arts. He is an educator in the highest-meaning of the word ; both servant to
 the work and its creative interpreter. He has taken on a responsibility, the successful execution of which was doubted
 by many. Nevertheless, he seems to have managed it and without fatigue. As proof, on every 2nd day from the 6th to
 the 21st of May, he will perform a work of Mahler. It is this work of love and indeed piety with which he will build
 his most lasting monument.


31 May 1920 : « Neue Freie Presse » , Doctor Egon Wellesz:

This is the very 1st time that one has the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the complete works of Mahler. It
 is the most difficult of all cycles to pull-off. Only a very few will last the course. All weakness will be doubly felt, all
 the limits of talent will be unforgivably apparent. So much of devoted relevance has been written already throughout
 this journey that I feel that I can save myself the words needed to express thoughts on each individual work, by
 relating instead the totality of the experience.

One thing that must be 1st stated is that Mahler’s works come into sharper relief through their cyclic performance. One work simply prepares us for the next without one overshadowing the other. One experiences an upward journey from the 1st piece to his 9th Symphony and there is not one work that one would feel did not belong in its rightful place.What both Mengelberg and his Orchestra have accomplished in these last days borders on the incomprehensible.

 One of Germany’s leading conductors said to me after a performance, that he would rather give-up altogether after
 experiencing such accomplishment. But the musicians are also aware of their unique central role, amongst the Viennese
 Arnold Schœnberg, who attended each and every rehearsal. And there were other representatives from America, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Italy. The precision of the bowing under the Concert-Master Zimmerman and the warmth of sound were astonishing. The moment Mengelberg hears the slightest discrepancy, he responds with « Systematic ! »
 which means « not good » . At this point, he starts to rehearse without mercy each and every individual tone and
 every point within the phrasing. « System » is the word that encapsulates his method with the Orchestra over the last
 25 years. In reality, « System » is simply a means of achieving exactness in execution, not losing one’s head and to
 maintain a consistent pulse and tempo. For our ears, we find the oboes sound very strange. They have a strong nasal
 sound and are weaker in dynamic than our Viennese instruments. The flutes, on the other hand, are dignified and full-
 sounding ; trumpets and trombones are excellent. Another extraordinary brass player is the bass-tuba, who wears gloves in order that his fingers not have direct contact with the keys of his instrument.

 Mengelberg’s conducting gestures are precise. He beats sharply and energetically with the right-hand. His left, often
 balled in a fist, is used for conveying expression and indicating entrances. He reaches climaxes by swinging his entire,
 rather small body about before this hot-head rises above proceedings. He has an agreeable manner of dealing with his
 Orchestra which comes from many years working in mutual trust and understanding with the same people.
 Occasionally, the atmosphere in rehearsals seems to balance on a knife-edge ; at this point, he tells a joke and rescues
 the situation. He rehearses long stretches and, only afterwards, does he tell the Orchestra what he wishes to change.
 He not only explains the technical, he tells the Orchestra what the individual intentions of the composer were. When
 he speaks with his sonorous, resonant voice, nobody else makes a sound.

One senses an inner-contact, and it is in this manner that he can achieve the best results from his players - just as a virtuoso gets the best out of his instrument. They tune precisely and co-operate through each rehearsal of a transitional passage. Nobody thinks of marking during rehearsal - Mengelberg demands full sound at all times and the highest-degree of tension and concentration. One of the typical rehearsal programmes went along the following lines :
 From 9h00 until 13h00, he rehearses the 4th and 5th Symphonies. In the evening, there are rehearsals of the 9th and
 5th from 20h00 to 22h00. At 22h00, he rehearses the Chorus for the 8th Symphony while the 2nd Concert-Master
 rehearsed the « Adagietto » from the 5th. He makes sure that the musicians are rested during their breaks. They’re
 given milky coffee and an endless supply of cheese sandwiches. After rehearsals, Mengelberg returns home and studies
 the scores for the next day’s rehearsals until deep in the night.

 Yet, there is nothing that is taken for granted on his part. He gets-up in the morning, refreshed and must re-establish
 his authority from zero - he betrays no sense of entitlement by replacing his attempts to achieve expression by mere
 routine. For us who have come to observe, it’s a revelation the way he can create tension without snapping and elicit
 emotion without losing control. These Festival performances are unique. They have never been matched in the devotion
 shown by those giving the performances or those attending them. Any attempt at repeating such a venture will be
 doomed to failure - if there is a repetition of such an undertaking, it would demand an entirely different approach.

Itis the 1st time that we have the entirety of Mahler’s work separated from its creator and finally launched into the
 wider world. Mahler no longer belongs just to Vienna, to Austria or to Europe, but has now been handed-over to the
 entire world. For example : this winter, the 8th Symphony will be performed in New York, and Mengelberg will continue
 to present Mahler’s works in various other American cities. This elementary effect of Mahler’s music on the masses of
 music-lovers must come as a surprise to those who had admired him from the very beginning. But that his day of
 musical resurrection would be so soon - well none of us could ever have anticipated it.

 Amsterdam’s Mahler Festival is set chronologically with performances of his Symphonies and orchestral songs and can
 be heard over 9 evenings’ of performances to which may be added 4 public rehearsals and 5 performances of
 international, contemporary chamber-music. The performances start in Amsterdam at 19h30 and carry-on until 22h30
 or even 23h00. In the 1st concert on the 6th of May, we heard « Das Klagende Lied » , « Lieder eines fahrenden
 Gesellen » and the 1st Symphony. One could not have heard a more complete version of « Das Klagende Lied » even
 under Mahler himself. This work of exuberant youthful talent, orchestrated by the experienced composer, was offered to
 devastating effect. Just as surprising in its impression, was the effect of the last movement of the 1st Symphony, which
 many, including myself, regarded until the present performance as one of his weakest works. Mengelberg knew how to
 draw the pieces together in order to create an entirely different picture.

 The next day brought us the lectures about Mahler that we have already reported as well as a general rehearsal of
 the 2nd Symphony. This was followed, the next day, with a performance that will never be forgotten by those who
 were present and able to appreciate the mystery and quietness of the Chorus’ entrance : « Arisen - yes ! Arisen ! »
 after the call in the horns and the trumpets. Nor can we forget the performance of « Urlicht » or the powerful surge
 of the final when Mengelberg extracted the final reserves of both Chorus and Orchestra.

 The performance of the 3rd Symphony, on Monday the 10th of May, resulted in a particular celebration for Mengelberg.
 The Prince Consort Heinrich handed-over both laurel and floral wreaths and was introduced to both visiting and local
 music-lovers, all of whom had made the effort to honour the life and work of Gustav Mahler. The 4th Festival concert,
 on Wednesday the 12th of May, brought us the 4th and 5th Symphonies. The latter, in Holland as in Vienna, one of the
 most seldom performed. Yet, under Mengelberg’s direction, it left an exceptional and lasting impression. The 4th, on the
 other hand, was met as more of a « succès d’estime » . The combination of both Symphonies in a single evening’s
 performance was a challenge to any public while, at the same time, offering a unique opportunity of comparing the 2
 works. It is apparent that, in the 4th symphony, Mahler can be heard departing from the style of his earliest works as
 he begins to become more polyphonic. Within the 5th symphony, this principal has already developed masterly.

 The following day was completely free and brought both performers and listeners a well-needed period of respite. In
 the afternoon, we set-out togehter to view an Indian steamship which offered an opportunity of viewing the local
 harbour in the course of its day-to-day activities as we watched the arrival of freighters, no doubt returning from the
 colonies in order to unload their goods. Everything appeared to be a part of a greater whole and offered the
 impression of a population that semed to have survived the scorched earth of recent years and now, with double
 energy, was bringing different nations together with a broader cultural mission.

 One anticipated the performance of the 6th Symphony with a certain anxiousness. This work is also less well-known in
 Amsterdam than its predecessors and « Das Lied von der Erde » . And, again, we experienced a triumph. If I recall the
 1st performance of this work in Vienna under Mahler, I sense that, here, the percussion and brass are softer - indeed,
 almost muted in comparison. The last movement, which must be one of the greatest and most plastic of any within
 Mahler’s Symphonies, was particularly rewarding under Mengelberg’s direction. He was able to control the steady
 development to the climax by unyielding control and instrumental balance, never arriving too soon, and splendidly
 unravelling the dense knot of musical subjects.

 The 7th Symphony has a very special place for Mengelberg as he owns Mahler’s manuscript and sees it very much as
 « his » Symphony. However, there are many inward connections that give this Symphony its own Amsterdam
 attachment. Mahler’s 1st « Nachtmusik » was inspired by Rembrandt’s « Night-Watchman » . Mengelberg explained to
 the Orchestra that the music is not to be understood by the painting itself, but in the sequence of visions that
 viewing the picture unleashed in Mahler : a nightly round ; moonlight on the rooftops of the city ; lovers whispering ;
 the distant sounds of a herdsman’s bells. Mengelberg explained the meaning of the work - the technical aspects have
 long been settled. 2 weeks before the performance, he handed-over to his trusted deputy Dopper both the strings and
 brass so that could be rehearsed separately and prepared to the point that Mengelberg needed only to file away a
 few rough edges, thus, adding wings to the work’s spirit.

 Following the performance of the 7th, the chronological sequence of works was disrupted in order to accommodate the
 technical requirements demanded of the 8th Symphony. There followed, therefore, the most transfigured of Mahler’s
 works : « Das Lied von der Erde » and the 9th Symphony, the performance of which fell on the day commemorating
 Mahler’s death. It is not possible to express in words the reverence that was demonstrated by this performance, the
 mystical transformation of the musicians. With the sound of the last note resonating in the hall, there followed only
 silence, which was maintained as we departed from the auditorium.
 
The monumental high-point of the Festival was the grandiose performance of the 8th symphony. The 1st violins were
 led by Carl Flesch ; the violas by Adolf Busch. The 1st soprano was as ever Mrs. Gerturd Förstel ; 2nd soprano was Mrs.
 Noordewter-Reddingtus ; the altos were Mrs. Cahier and Mrs. Burigo ; the tenor, Mister Urlis. At the piano sat Leonid
 Kreutzer. Again, there were endless rehearsals that went on until deepest night, and involved both Chorus and
 Orchestra. These were followed by individual rehearsals with the soloists, with the harps and with the piano. All stood
 in the grip of the transcendental, indefatigable power of Mengelberg and everyone marvelled and allowed him to do
 with them as he wished.

 In addition to the fullness of the Symphonic performances were added 5 chamber performances on the free-days in-
 between. These took place under the direction of Professor Alexander Schmullers and in organization with the pianists
 Lamond, Kreutzer, Schnabel, Mrs. Stokowski and Moritz Löwensohn, the marvellous cellist. Together, they presented a
 series of representative contemporary chamber-music recitals consisting of works by, amongst many others, the Italian
 composer Casella, the Frenchman Florent Schmitt, and an important vocal work by Artur Schnabel.
 
An additional 2 lectures were offered to bring the work and person of Gustav Mahler closer to the public. Felix Salten
 gave us a graphic depiction of the atmosphere that Mahler’s work elicited and the role that was played by both his
 person and the city of Vienna ; Richard Specht, the trusted biographer of Mahler, spoke of the artist and the triumphs
 of his vision, which Mengelberg has so visibly transmitted to us all in recent days. It has been agreed that these
 lectures will be kept as a perpetual memorial to this Festival in Amsterdam and are to be published.

 There is something special about the performance of works in the context of a Festival.While we experienced these
 days, we already sensed the memory of earlier performances slipping away, only to remain as something we cannot
 describe. Yet, despite this, something permanent survives that will bind all of us together as we go our separate ways
 throughout the world.

 That this event could take place at all is thanks to the committee led by his Excellence Köell, Mister K. van Rees and
 Mister Dudok van Heel. For the production and presentation of the programme along with the writing of the
 accompanying notes, we thank Mister Rudolf Mengelberg, who also organised the guest-lists and events. For the
 administration of the Festival, we thank Mister Benkers van Ogtrop and Mister Frejer along with Mister de Marez
Oyens.

 For us, Viennese, this was not only an enormous gain artistically, but also a display of great humanity. One was again
 surrounded by friendship and love. The generosity of our hosts was such that we could again believe in the words (of
  Schiller, set by Beethoven in his 9th Symphony): « Alle Menschen werden Brüder, wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. » The
 shared goal of something artistic brought us out of, and beyond ourselves, and created an atmosphere of artistic and
 profound seriousness. That this could happen, we are indebted to the man who is Mengelberg and his circle of
 supporters and friends.

 May the spirit of goodness that came from this place continue to support all that is beautiful so that people are, once
 again, bound together in everlasting friendship.


................

 BEHIND GUSTAV MAHLER’S ANNIVERSARIES

 Orchestras don’t usually need special reasons to highlight the music of the late-Romantic Austrian composer Gustav
 Mahler. His titanic Symphonies and delicate Songs have shaped musical life in the 20th and 21st Centuries, and they
 have a secure place on orchestral programmes around the world. But anniversary celebrations like the one in Amsterdam in 2020, where several orchestras will perform Mahler’s works over the course of 2 weeks, offer special glimpses into Mahler’s musical after-life and into the ideas and attitudes of those who celebrate his legacy.

Next year’s Festival [2020] actually marks the 100th Anniversary of an important starting point in my book, « Aaron Copland and the American Legacy of Gustav Mahler » . In 1920, in Amsterdam, the Dutch conductor Willem Mengelberg presided over the first significant festival of Mahler’s music, and it took place in a climate of international cooperation after the devastation of World War I. Over the course of 2 weeks, Mengelberg, who had been Mahler’s friend and colleague, his own 25 years in charge of the « Concertgebouw » Orchestra by conducting most of Mahler’s works. 40 years later, another momentous Mahler Festival took place, this time in New York City.

As part of it, Leonard Bernstein went on national television with the New York Philharmonic to extol Mahler’s music. As Bernstein pointed out, that year, 1960, actually marked 2 anniversaries : one was the Centenary of Mahler’s birth, and the second was the 50th anniversary of Mahler’s first season as music-director of the same orchestra. Bernstein would go on to make Mahler’s music a central part of his own musical and personal identity, and it is fitting that Mahler featured in last year’s celebrations of Bernstein’s own Centenary. At a New York Philharmonic- sponsored event in Lincoln Center dubbed « Bernstein’s Mahler Marathon » in 2018, audiences listened all day to Bernstein’s recordings of Mahler’s Symphonies.

When it comes to assessing the musical after-life of a composer like Mahler, why are anniversary festivals like the ones
 in Amsterdam in 1920, or New York in 1960, so important ? For one, these big public events could well have a lasting
 effect on a composer’s stature, placing that figure into the spotlight and inviting new audiences into the fold. They
 also offer historians an opportunity to take the temperature of critical (and sometimes even public) opinion at a
 particular moment, and they serve as focal points for investigating how a composer’s legacy can reflect the broader
 priorities of musical communities.

 But for the story I tell in « Aaron Copland and the American Legacy of Gustav Mahler » , these festivals do even
 more : they serve as part of a larger story of how ideas about music flow, both in public and private realms, over
 time. And it’s what happens behind the scenes of these events (and how they’re connected) that especially fascinates
me.

 One of the attendees of the 1920 Mahler Festival was Nadia Boulanger. She would become a towering figure in 20th Century music, especially as a performer and educator. And she was at the Festival to celebrate not Mahler, toward whose heavy Austro-German music she was ambivalent, but rather Mengelberg, her friend. And Mahler’s music moved her enough that she wrote a positive review of it in the periodical « Le Monde musical » .

 Boulanger was also intrigued enough to bring copies of Mahler’s scores home with her to Paris - a decision that
 turned out to have a lasting effect on Mahler’s reception. The year after the 1920 Festival, the young composer Aaron
 Copland traveled to France, where he would become Boulanger’s composition student. In her Paris studio, at her
 direction, he studied the very same Mahler scores Boulanger brought back from Amsterdam. It was there that he
 developed a deep connection to Mahler’s music.

 One reason this detail is so significant is that, without Copland, Leonard Bernstein’s involvement with Mahler’s music
 would look quite different. Correspondence reveals that as early as 1940, Copland pointed Bernstein toward Mahler’s
 music. Bernstein was about the same age Copland was when Copland first discovered Mahler. It is no coincidence that
 later, in lectures at the 1960 Mahler Festival, Bernstein borrowed Copland’s own insights about Mahler, using them to
 support the larger vision he presented for 20th Century music.

 The consequences on Mahler’s reception of Boulanger’s presence at Mengelberg’ 1920 Festival, then, were profound.
 Through Copland, she unintentionally set the stage for Bernstein’s own highly-visible Mahler advocacy. So, if you’re lucky enough to attend the 2020 Amsterdam Mahler Festival, you could commemorate the 1920 Festival’s significance by
 doing what Nadia Boulanger did exactly 100 years earlier : pick-up some copies of Mahler’s Symphonies and bring
 them home with you.


It is worth noting that the centenary of this momentous Mahler festival is in 2 months (May 2020).

Concerts and celebrations are scheduled, but will they ever take place ?


https://mahlerfoundation.org/en/mahler/plaatsen/netherlands/amsterdam/mahler-festival-amsterdam-2020

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4476 on: March 21, 2020, 02:59:13 PM »
Thanks for these responses. I’ve been listening to Boulez’s 1975 London prom performance, which set me thinking.

When it was written, was there any precedent for anything on such a scale?

Unfortunately I don’t have La Grange’s books to see what he says about it.

As Biffo mentions, there was some precedent for using massed forces in various contexts, especially with choral-orchestral works. Musically, Mahler was inspired by Bach's motets and the St. Matthew Passion, which use divided antiphonal choirs.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline ritter

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4477 on: March 21, 2020, 03:04:33 PM »
Great to see you back here on GMG, Mahlerian It’s been a while. Hope you are doing fine.

ritter
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„ Kein’ Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden, die unsrer verglichen kann werden“.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4478 on: March 21, 2020, 03:08:13 PM »
Great to see you back here on GMG, Mahlerian It’s been a while. Hope you are doing fine.

Thanks, just really busy finishing up my master's degree, although now I'm doing it while stuck at home.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4479 on: April 08, 2020, 05:46:36 AM »
Thoughts on Bernard Haitink's recordings of Mahler with the Royal Concertgebouw...? Are there highlights of the cycle that are worth seeking out over others? I know the 9th is supposed to be good, but I've not heard it. I really love the few Haitink Mahler recordings I have: the song cycles, including Das Lied von der Erde. The Concertgebouw sounds excellent...!