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Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Mahler (July 7, 1860 - May 18, 1911).  Orchestras and festivals all over the world are commemorating Mahler with performances of his symphonies and works (such as this festival, with a gala today.  This diary won't/can't even try to cover comprehensively Mahler, as other sources have a long head start on that, such as:

(a) The International Gustav Mahler Society, Vienna
(b) Universal Edition page on Mahler (the epigram translates as "My time will come", BTW)

Instead, this is a sort of free-form rhapsody on one Mahler symphony, the Fourth, first performed in November 1901, and focusing mainly on its last movement.  You can also get a good primer on Mahler 4 from Boston Symphony Orchestra program notes by the late Michael Steinberg.  The reason for the choice of #4, as well as the last movement, follows below the flip....

As noted in Steinberg's commentary, the last movement of Mahler 4, a setting of a poem from the German folk collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn), was actually the first to be written, as it was originally intended as the 7th (!) movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 3.  However, GM decided somehow that 6 movements were enough for that work.  (For people who aren't classical music geeks, most symphonies content themselves with 4 movements, and in Haydn and Mozart's day, lasted not more than half an hour.  Mahler 3 goes for 100 minutes in its 6 movements.)  

But not wanting to let a perfectly good piece of writing go to waste, GM decided to write a new work that would culminate in this pre-existing movement.  So in a flip way, Mahler composed this symphony "backwards".  In fact, one critic after the January 1902 Vienna premiere, Max Graf, commented in his review:

"This symphony has to be read from back to front like a Hebrew Bible."

Lest anyone consider that comment to be an anti-Semitic jibe at Mahler (and Mahler received plenty of anti-Semitic invective in his life, to be sure), Max Graf was himself Jewish.  Donald Mitchell commented on Graf's quip as follows:

"Given the tragi-comic history of the Fourth's reception, it seems entirely appropriate that one of the few genuine insights about the symphony should have been expressed (and intended) as an adverse comment.  Graf himself was Jewish, so it may have been that Mahler was not offended by what may have been intended or at least understood as a good Jewish joke."

Citation: Donald Mitchell, 'Mahler's Fourth Symphony', from The Mahler Companion (ed. Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson).  Oxford University Press (1999), p. 200.

Towards the end of his life, Mahler noted in a letter to the conductor Georg Gohler:

"Each of the first three movements is thematically most closely and most significantly related to the last."

Mahler to Georg Gohler, Feb. 8, 1911 (citation, Ibid., p. 188)

The text of the last movement, which is often given the title "Das himmlische Leben" ("The Heavenly Life"), reads as follows (translation my reworking of the Google Translator feed):

Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden,
D'rum tun wir das Irdische meiden.
Kein weltlich' Getümmel
Hört man nicht im Himmel!
Lebt alles in sanftester Ruh'.

Wir führen ein englisches Leben,
Sind dennoch ganz lustig daneben;
Wir tanzen und springen,
Wir hüpfen und singen,
Sankt Peter im Himmel sieht zu.

Johannes das Lämmlein auslasset,
Der Metzger Herodes d'rauf passet.
Wir führen ein geduldig's,
Unschuldig's, geduldig's,
Ein liebliches Lämmlein zu Tod.

Sankt Lucas den Ochsen tät schlachten
Ohn' einig's Bedenken und Achten.
Der Wein kost' kein Heller
Im himmlischen Keller;
Die Englein, die backen das Brot.

Gut' Kräuter von allerhand Arten,
Die wachsen im himmlischen Garten,
Gut' Spargel, Fisolen
Und was wir nur wollen.
Ganze Schüsseln voll sind uns bereit!

Gut' Äpfel, gut' Birn' und gut' Trauben;
Die Gärtner, die alles erlauben.
Willst Rehbock, willst Hasen,
Auf offener Straßen
Sie laufen herbei!

Sollt' ein Fasttag etwa kommen,
Alle Fische gleich mit Freuden angeschwommen!
Dort läuft schon Sanct Peter
Mit Netz und mit Köder
Zum himmlischen Weiher hinein.
Sanct Martha die Köchin muß sein.

Kein' Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden,
Die unsrer verglichen kann werden.
Elftausend Jungfrauen
Zu tanzen sich trauen.
Sankt Ursula selbst dazu lacht.

Cäcilia mit ihren Verwandten
Sind treffliche Hofmusikanten!
Die englischen Stimmen
Ermuntern die Sinnen,
Daß alles für Freuden erwacht.

We enjoy heavenly delights
And so avoid earthly cares.
No worldly conflict
Is heard in heaven!
Everything lives in peace and calm!

We lead an angelic life
Yet are still very merry!
We dance about and spring,
We jump around and sing!
St. Peter in heaven looks on!

St. John releases a lambkin,
The butcher Herod waits for it.
We lead forth a patient,
Innocent, patient,
A lovable lambkin to its death!

St. Luke slaughters the oxen
Without thought or attention,
The wine costs not a penny
In the celestial cellar,
The angels bake the bread.

Good herbs of all sorts
Grow in the heavenly garden!
Good asparagus, green beans
And what we wish!
Whole baskets are ready for us!

Good apples, good pears and good grapes!
The gardeners let us have it all!
If you want buck or hare,
On the open road
They come running.

Should there come a feast day
All fish swim up with joy!
St. Peter is already running
With net and bait
Into the heavenly brook.
St. Martha must be the cook!

No music on earth,
can compare to ours.
Eleven thousand virgins
Dare to dance
St. Ursula herself laughs at this!

Cecilia with her relatives
Are excellent court musicians!
The angelic voices
Rouse the senses!
So all awakes for joy.

Mahler's 4th is often considered the "sunniest" of the symphonies, for admittedly understandable reasons, such as the jingling sleigh bells at the very beginning of the work.  Yet when you read the "Heavenly Life" poem, at least intellectually, you have to wonder about the work's "sunniness".  Note in the poem the casual images related to death, with particular regard to what happens to the lamb and to the ox.  You'll also note that the fish just swim merrily, almost waiting to be eaten.  Mitchell wrote in his liner notes to the Claudio Abbado recording on Deutsche Grammophon (CD B0005759-02 – Renee Fleming is the soprano soloist, if you’re wondering):

"Death, it seems, is obligatory if life is to be sustained, even in heaven, an irony that no doubt stirred the composer's imagination."

Plus, it's a kid, after all, singing about how s/he has everything s/he could possibly want in heaven.  The kid doesn't think about the ramifications of how the food gets to the table, after all.  

Of course, one can regard this all as a child dreaming of heaven.  The harsher alternative would be to regard this more "literally" as a child truly seeing heaven, which would imply that if the child is in heaven, then the child is dead.  Sort of takes the shine off the sun, if one stops to think.  Yet that tension remains, between the generally "light" spirit of the music and the not-always-so-light subtext of the poem.  One other interpretation of the finale comes from the scholar Adolf Nowak, as quoted by Henry-Louis de la Grange:

"[Nowak] considers it to be a reflection of Nietzsche's philosophy.  He is convinced that the irony which is symbolized in the Finale of the Fourth by the sleigh-bells refrain gives 'Das himmilische Leben' the character of a Wunschtraum, one in which the hungry child of 'Das irdische Leben' (*) is at last saved from his hopeless 'earthly predicament.  Thus the child projects into the other world every pleasure and enjoyment that has been denied him in this one."

Citation: Henry-Louis de la Grange, Gustav Mahler - Vienna: The Years of Challenge.  Oxford University Press (1995), pp. 772-773.

(*) 'Das irdische Leben', or "Earthly life", is another poem from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, which tells the story of a starving child waiting for his mother to feed him.  She keeps telling him the bread will be ready once the corn is reaped and threshed.  It doesn't end well.  Mahler's setting in his song cycle is an abridged version of the poem in the link.

One other, perhaps unwitting, innovation of this symphony is that it is quite possibly the first orchestral symphony to use a solo singer in its final movement.  Mahler 4 certainly wasn't the first symphony to use singers in the finale, where that honor obviously goes to Beethoven's 9th, which used 4 solo singers and a chorus.  Very few symphonies have done this since, where the only one that comes readily to mind is Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Pastoral Symphony.  Other symphonies have used a solo singer more extensively, such as Michael Tippett's Symphony No. 3 and Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3.  

If you want to read a survey (through 2006 or so) of recordings of Mahler 4, Tony Duggan has it here.  Lots of star (and not quite so famous) names have sung the last movement, a good number of which Duggan's article notes.  This takes us to the reason (finally) why 3CM chose to babble here about Mahler's Symphony No. 4.  It has to do with these videos of the 2nd and 4th movements:

II: http://www.youtube.com/...

IV: http://www.youtube.com/...

The reason I chose these particular videos, besides the inherent quality of the performance, is that the concert from which these videos derive marked a very special occasion.  The artists featured here are:

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
Bernard Haitink, conductor
Christine Schafer, soprano
Concert date:  November 7, 2006

This is a symbolic date because Haitink first conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra, as its title was for its 1st 100 years (the "Royal" [Konijklijk] title didn't come until 1988), on November 7, 1956, as substitute for an indisposed Carlo Maria Giulini.  So the math is obvious:  this concert marked Haitink's 50th anniversary of conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra, on the exact day.  Following the sudden death of the orchestra's 3rd chief conductor, Eduard van Beinum, in 1959, Haitink and Eugen Jochum shared the chief conductorship of the orchestra for 2 years, 1961-1963.  Haitink then took the sole reins as chief conductor for 25 years, from 1963 to 1988.  He now has the title of conductor laureate with the orchestra.

The other reason for choosing these videos can be glimpsed, sort of, at 3:27 of the second movement video, for example.  In the Great Hall of the Concertgebouw (the name means "Concert Hall" in Dutch), the names of a number of composers, Dutch and otherwise, are inscribed along the balcony.  The usual suspects (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart etc.) are there, along with some Dutch names you won't know (Alphons Diepenbrock, Cornelius Dopper, Jacob Obrecht, etc.).  You'll see that a spotlight lights up one of the names all through the performance, where everywhere else in the hall, the audience light is dimmed, a name in the center of the back balcony section.  That name is Mahler.

The Concertgebouw Orchestra has a long relationship with the music of Mahler, because of the tremendous advocacy by the orchestra's second chief conductor, Willem Mengelberg (tenure from 1895 to 1945), and also including performances led by the man himself.  Mahler guest-conducted the Concertgebouw Orchestra 4 times over a period of 6 years, from 1903 to 1909.  In fact, in one 1904 concert, Mahler conducted the Fourth Symphony twice, as recounted by the Dutch author Balthazar Verhagen:

"On the memorable Saturday night of the 23rd October Mahler conducted his Fourth Symphony twice to a small but appreciative audience."

Citation:  Eveline Nikkels, 'Mahler and Holland', from The Mahler Companion, p. 329.

So, it's fitting to sample Mahler 4 today from the world's greatest Mahler orchestra, with the world's leading Mahler conductor at the helm.  Your thoughts on Mahler, favorite works or concerts, or maybe you've actually performed his music, are most welcome below.

Originally posted to chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:08 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for reading. (30+ / 0-)

    Of course, today also marks the 70th birthday of Richard Starkey, OBE, so.... :)

    "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

    by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:08:08 PM PDT

  •  A most enjoyable diary. (8+ / 0-)

    I am a great Mahler fan. If I had the horrible choice of having to pick one thing I think it would be the adagetto from the 5th. It is sheer beauty.

  •  Mahler! First, who wrote the verse? (6+ / 0-)

    At my dad's service we had Das Lied von der Erde. He absolutely loved Mahler.  He had a bust of Mahler and Puccini.

    My favorite still is The Titan, No. 1.  And to think he was a kid when he wrote it.

    Thank you so much, now I will go back and study what you have written.  I will try to get some listening in of the whole work.

    We have the Mahler series from the Teaching Company by Robert Greenberg.

    Thank you again.

    "Never, desist till we ... extinguish this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, will scarce believe that it suffered a disgrace and dishonor to this country.

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:15:48 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. Many thanks. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PeterHug, sberel, chingchongchinaman

    I'm also a great fan of Haitink and the Concertgebouw.

    And then there's that great line from Sondheim's
    "Ladies who Lunch"/Company: "And one for Mahler"!

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:23:36 PM PDT

    •  you're welcome/Sondheim & Mahler are featured.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, sberel, ExStr8

      ....at The Proms in London this year:

      (a) Prom 19, all-Sondheim, for his 80th this year.  I understand that the plan is for the man himself to be there (fingers crossed).
      (b) Mahler is featured at 8 Proms this summer, including the 4th, and Mahler 8 on The First Night.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:29:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And of course, the old saw.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sberel, chingchongchinaman

    "you've heard one Mahler Symphony, you've heard them all".  WFMT in Chicago had a Mahlerpalooza, airing all of the symphonies in one day.  

    And of course, as superstitious Mahler was, few realize that Das Lied von der Erde was really his 9th Symphony, he just didn't call it a symphony to avoid the "Beethoven curse".  Which means his 9th would really be his 10th.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:29:24 PM PDT

    •  Mahler on BBC Radio 3 / old saws (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deben, ExStr8

      I actually apply that old saw to Anton Bruckner's symphonies, where they all really do sound like each other.  To me, that doesn't apply at all to Mahler, even if parts of the 7th do sound like reworkings of earlier stuff.

      Radio 3 is featuring Mahler as their Composer of the Week.  Must get cracking on those.....

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:33:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think that is correct. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chingchongchinaman

      He completed a 9th symphony and had started a 10th when he died.

      http://www.mfiles.co.uk/...

      •  GM did finish the 10th in a full..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug

        ....short score version, and had orchestrated the first movement in full, but unfortunately didn't get around to the rest of it, and no doubt he would have revised the 10th into something different.  But we have what we have, thanks to Deryck Cooke, Berthold Goldschmidt, among others.

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:35:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes he did, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        deben, chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

        but critics have speculated that he deliberately did not call Das Lied a symphony to avoid the curse.  Therefore, when he wrote his 9th, it was really his 10th, and he could start on his named 10th Symphony.  

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

        by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:36:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like nonsense to me. n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chingchongchinaman, sailmaker
          •  Yet widely acknowledged (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            deben, chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

            For example, in this article from the Kennedy Center

            While Mahler regarded these three works as constituting a valedictory cycle, he tried to pretend otherwise—or to assure his surviving long enough to complete them all—by omitting Das Lied von der Erde from the list of symphonies to which he assigned numbers. His wife wrote, "Because Beethoven died after his Ninth Symphony and Bruckner before finishing his Ninth . . . it was a superstition of Mahler's that no great writer of symphonies got beyond his ninth." For this reason, once he completed his Eighth Symphony, giving a number to its successor was something "he wished to dodge," as Alma Mahler put it, in dread of a Ninth Symphony. . . . When later he was writing his next symphony, which he called the Ninth, he said to me, "Actually, of course, it's the Tenth, because Das Lied von der Erde  was really the Ninth." Finally, when he was composing the Tenth he said, "Now the danger is past."

            How much verisimilitude we can take from Frau Mahler's writings is debatable, but there it is.

            "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

            by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:41:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  interesting that a bunch of other composers.... (0+ / 0-)

              ....managed to "screw the curse" and get well past 9 later on, like DSCH, Vagn Holmboe, Robert Simpson, Allan Petterson, and William Schuman.

              Admittedly, Ralph Vaughan Williams stopped at 9, but he was 85 when he finished the 9th.  So he had an excuse :) .  Although, kind of sadly, he died the night before the first recording session of the 1st commercial recording of his 9th, so....

              "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

              by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 09:00:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  superstition, but with some...... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sailmaker

            ...."irrationally rational" (or rationally irrational) basis.  Bruckner didn't get past 9, as zenbassoon noted, and Dvorak chose not to write past 9 (he might have had difficulty topping "From the New World", to be sure).  Of course, if Beethoven's 9th hadn't been so monumental, who knows about the historical ramifications for future composers.

            "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

            by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:44:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  yup, heard the same legend (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sailmaker, Richard Lyon

          Obviously it didn't quite work out.

          "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

          by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:43:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  love Mahler's 4th (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

    "Jingling sleigh bells" immediately told me which of his symphonies we were talking about.

    Even better for me though, is Mahler's absolute masterpiece, "Das Lied von der Erde".  There are very composers who produced music at that level.

    •  must admit that it's taken me a while to.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deben, ExStr8

      ....get into Das Lied von der Erde, because of the half-hour last movement, "Der Abschied".  On record or CD, I tend to feel somewhat disengaged.  When I finally heard it live, I figured out why, because of the spareness of the scoring at times, besides the general slow tread.  I've read that some consider the "galloping" passage in the 4th movement the best "horse running music" ever written.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:37:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And for those with REAL fortitude, (4+ / 0-)

    I present the ENTIRE 2nd Symphony:

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:46:51 PM PDT

  •  lovely (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, ExStr8, chingchongchinaman

    diary this..just lovely

    Not much to report here

    by on the cusp on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 07:54:58 PM PDT

    •  thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, Richard Lyon, on the cusp

      It would be easy to do a diary per symphony, or something like that.  The 100th anniversary of Mahler 8, for example, is this coming September 12.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 08:05:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mahler is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

        more than the average person can take at one sitting anymore.
        Good on you for writing about the sounds that lift us all up to something better than here.

        Not much to report here

        by on the cusp on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 08:37:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  in classical programs, of course.... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PeterHug, sailmaker, on the cusp

          ....Mahler's stock is as high as it's ever been.  The army of brass does make an impact in the hall.

          "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

          by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 08:39:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He was sort of a "thing" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

            back in the late 60's when we war protesters were lurking..that is how I became familiar with him.
            I live near Houston, and that Houston Orchestra often played his "9th".  Did I get that right, or was it the 8th ?
            Anyways..we got cheap tickets and it was life changing for some of us.
            I admit to being strictly Bach at the piano, and because that is anal and so forth, my listening / playing pleasure is the "R"s.  Rachmaninoff, Resphighi, Ravel, Rimski-Korsikov.
            But there are so many others and so forth and so on and Mahler is great.  GREAT.

            Not much to report here

            by on the cusp on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 08:50:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it would have to be the 9th, since.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              on the cusp

              ....Mahler 8, a.k.a. the "Symphony of a Thousand", would severely strain most orchestra's finances even in a good year.  It's much more financially feasible to do the 9th.  I wonder who conducted the work at those concerts you saw then.  Sir John Barbirolli was music director in Houston for a few years, and JB was famous for his early 1960's recording of Mahler 9 with the Berlin Philharmonic.  So I can imagine that he would have done that at least once in Houston.

              BTW, did you know that Leonard Bernstein had a bumper sticker with the text "Mahler Grooves"?  Very 1960's, of course, but that was his decade at the NY Phil and he recorded a cycle with them (except the 8th, done in London).

              "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

              by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 09:04:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I thought of doing that myself (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chingchongchinaman, on the cusp

        but have no time right now dealing with a very sick parent.
        And you haven't even gone into the great songs, Kindertotenlieder and such.

        The Song of the Earth is interesting because of Mahler writing 'Oriental' music. He uses the whole tone scale to great effect.

  •  Good diary, ccc! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

    I am not a music scholar, but I enjoy reading about the musicians.  Very interesting comments, too.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 08:54:21 PM PDT

    •  thanks for stopping by (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, sailmaker

      I sort of meant to try to post it near Bookflurries, at 7:07 PM (get it?), but other plans got in the way. Also missed posting it at 7:07 Pacific time by a few seconds, not that anyone would have cared besides me ;) .

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 09:05:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sorry! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

        That would have been very satisfying.  

        Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

        by cfk on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 09:12:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  of course, no one would have paid attention... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cfk, sailmaker

          ....to the joke, but then that's why I do the regular series that I do :) .  Except this weekend, of course.

          If you have time to watch the videos, be interesting to hear what you think.  What I didn't mention was that for a short spell, that entire performance of Mahler 4 was available on YouTube in unbelievably high quality uploads.  Unfortunately (for me), someone at YT must have gotten on the guy's case to remove them, since they were obviously too good.  I fortunately got to watch them a while back.  So we just have to rest content with the two movements here.

          "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

          by chingchongchinaman on Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 09:16:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which version of the 4th would you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chingchongchinaman

            recommend?  I ask because I'm becoming a classical DJ at the local college radio station (sailmaking is killing my knees).  I'm going to do Mahler, some Górecki, Michael Tippett. . . maybe some Alkin,   If I run out of music, maybe some Megadeath Symphony solo and for more variation: Final Fantasy VII. (the FCC mandates diversity as part of our license).

            Hamdan v. Rumsfeld = the Constitution travels with the flag

            by sailmaker on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 12:12:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  you mean Alkan (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

              'run out of music'? Now that's funny.
              Don't forget Bach and Beethoven and other minor composers like that.

              •  Yep. Alkan (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                chingchongchinaman

                The station has 200,000 volumes, half vinyl, so I really would not 'run out'.   I try to do a program, in this case, vocal soloists with symphony orchestra.  I've done boleros (starting with Chopin), operas (everything but Grand), traveling music,  and a bunch of others. The current idea falls down in that there are not 3 hours of soloists with orchestra, and the station has the FCC diversity requisite so I'd need to find some long playing heavy metal with orchestra and soloist for balance.

                Question for you GustaveMahler: some people have said that "modern" music started with one or another of your symphonies: if you agree with that idea, which of your symphonies would best describe the 'beginning of modern music'?  Thanks in advance.

                Hamdan v. Rumsfeld = the Constitution travels with the flag

                by sailmaker on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 01:56:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  the "diversity" requirement sounds kind of.... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sailmaker

                  ....weird, in a PC-sort of way.  But as long as you get to play what you want, it's all good, I suppose.  Actually, if you feel so inclined, drop me a private e-mail about your radio show (i.e. don't post the college info here).

                  "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

                  by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 07:14:58 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I guess it's also a question of whether.... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sailmaker

                ....sailmaker wants to branch out beyond classical "top 40" to more obscure names and such.

                "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

                by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 07:15:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Exactly right. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  chingchongchinaman

                  The station gets around 100 unsolicited CDs per week, of which maybe 1 percent is 'classical' which includes film music, new age orchestral lite and the top 40 of classical.  I would like to go beyond that a bit.  

                  I have crates of orchestral music from the Nordic countries, most of which have liner notes in languages I do not read. My talent is figuring out how to buy them online.  I always need to research the artists and their pieces, so that I can build a bridge between what Americans know and these newer pieces.

                  Hamdan v. Rumsfeld = the Constitution travels with the flag

                  by sailmaker on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 09:05:23 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  so possibly including composers like.... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sailmaker

                    ...Harald Saeverud, Ketil Hvoslef (HS' son), Berwald, Stenhammar, Per Norgard, Sven David Sandstrom, and going over to Finland, Leevi Madetoja, Uuno Klami, perhaps Eduard Tubin from Estonia, among others.

                    "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

                    by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 09:52:41 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  recommended GM 4: good question (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sailmaker

              I haven't heard them all, even though I have 8 (!) recordings in my collection, much to my recent shock when I was putting together this diary.  Which recordings are in the college collection there?  Szell/Cleveland is very highly regarded, among past generation recordings.  The Haitink/Concertgebouw/Schafer performance is out on CD, the orchestra's own label, RCO Live.

              More recently, I've heard very good reviews of a new recording with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, although I've not got hold of it yet.  Plus, the soprano in that recording is Miah Persson, who's Swedish, blond, and ridiculously hot as only a Swedish blond can be, but also married with a kid.  Oh well.

              Good choices to start your radio show, Gorecki, Tippett and Alkan.

              "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

              by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 07:12:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  My own preference... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              chingchongchinaman

              (Assuming you find this reply, it is so late...)  Would be the old Nonesuch recording of Loren Maazel with the Berlin Radio Orchestra, or something like that.  Heather Harper soprano singing.  I recommend this one in particular for the fantastic performance of the third movement, which, I think, is the real heart of the symphony, despite all the history involved in the creation of the finale.  

              If you took out the third movement, I would choose any number of other performances.  You can hardly ever go wrong choosing Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony for any Mahler performances.  He staked out Mahler as his own personal turf more effectively than Bernstein.

              •  found it, thanks for stopping by :) (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dumbo

                Actually, to be fair, I missed your Mahler diary last week (sorry), but glad to see that it got rescued.  Obviously mine did OK enough not to need rescue, but not so well as to make it to the rec list (something I've never done, and never will do, at DK, but never mind).

                I haven't heard that Maazel recording with Heather Harper.  I've liked Heather Harper's recordings, where I think I've heard her most in Britten's operas.

                "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

                by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 05:28:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  The section on the Concertgebouw (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chingchongchinaman, sailmaker

    reminded me that the only composer I've heard who's music seems at all like Mahler's is the Dutch composer Alfons Diepenbrock.  He's handy for when you're in the mood for some Mahler, but don't want to commit to a large chunk of time to sit through a whole Mahler symphony.

    It took me until junior high to get into Mahler.  When I was a little kid, I loved going to the symphony, but I got really scared by Mahler's music and would ask my mom to take me home.

    My favorite Mahler is Das Lied von der Erde.

    •  am sure you know that GM and AD.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sailmaker, dirkster42

      ....got to be great friends.  In fact, after they struck up a friendship, Mahler insisted that Diepenbrock be on the 'guest list' to all social events in Amsterdam that GM attended.

      GM was the greater composer, of course, which AD would have been the first to acknowledge. I have a CD of AD's music, some of the 'symphonic songs', very fine stuff.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 07:03:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A far too late comment... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chingchongchinaman

    I know, although I would have been there with sleigh-bells on my toes if I had been more aware of the diary.  (Actually, I think you did mention it now, maybe in my Thursday diary, but it slipped past me at the time.)

    A couple of comments.  One, I won't say that I HATE Mahler's choices of poetry and lyrics, but sometimes they really do suck, so much so that I tend to just look at them as secondary indicators of what his music is about.  For instance, his choice of the awful Ruckert songs for Ruckert Lieder.  The music for "Ich bin der welt Abhanden..."  (I am lost to the world) is fantastic, but the lyrics are pure shit.  It reads like something a teenager cutter goth chick would write for a poetry workshop.  All it needs is a line about how "...my parents suck so bad I wish I wasn't born!"  It's interesting in a way to know that Mahler could sometimes have such terrible taste in lyrics, the same as it would be interesting if we found out that Beethoven wanted unicorns and smiley faces printed on the program notes for the Ninth Symphony -- the music would still forever be awesome, but it would take a little mental compartmentalization to keep it straight in our head.

    For me, all the history of the finale aside, I think the important part of the fourth, the movement that makes it great, is the andante third movement.  I may do a diary just about it.  It follows a format which could be called "double variations on a theme" -- two distinct themes alternating and doubled.  This was a form that Beethoven exploited to great effect in his final quartets, like the Hymn of Thanksgiving in Lydian Mode, or the slow movement from the F major.

    Which brings up the finale of Mahler's 3rd Symphony, which might have, in another universe, been the prelude to the 4th's finale!  I can't listen to the finale of the 3rd and not hear the slow movement of the 4th.  That, too, is a double-variations movement, and the first theme is almost a duplicate of the theme from the F major slow movement.  Kind of funny, isn't it?  The first theme of the 3rd is sort of a rip-off of Brahms's 1st symphony finale.  Which, in turn, was considered a rip-off (okay, homage!) to Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

    Slow movement from Opus 135

    •  oops clarify... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chingchongchinaman

      should have said: I can't hear the slow movement of the Mahler 4th and not hear the finale of the Mahler 3rd.

      should have said: the themes are alternated and varied, not alternated and doubled.  (sheesh)

    •  actually, speaking of Beethoven & Mahler 4.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      .....I've read the comment that the opening of the slow movement of Mahler 4 is pretty much lifted from Beethoven's Fidelio, the section "Mir ist so wunderbar", the beginning as sung by Marzelline, but with a meter change.  One "meta" interpretation is that Marzelline has a crush on Fidelio (Leonore) in the opera, of course, i.e. the disguise is a deception for Fidelio to find her husband.  Likewise, in Mahler 4, perhaps the vision of heaven as seen by the child is also "false", in that same way.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Thu Jul 15, 2010 at 05:31:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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