Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Gustave Mahler!

Rodin's bust of Gustave Mahler

He's 150 today.

The last great Romantic composer and the first great Modern.

Here is the late Leonard Bernstein conducting one of Mahler's darkest and most demanding works.

People either love Mahler or hate him, even more than Wagner. I count myself as a fan. I love all that lush orchestration and tragic irony, but then, I love the whole sunset-in-the-cemetery German Romantic aesthetic. I have all 10 of his symphonies, and all of his song cycles.
His music remains very popular in New York, where he worked as conductor of the New York Philharmonic for a couple of years. It's still SRO at Avery Fisher when Mahler's work is performed there.

I remember reading an interview with Carl Schorske, the great historian of modern Vienna, and he was asked who he thought was the greatest of all modern Viennese artists. Out of all the artists, writers, playwrights, and composers, (a list that included Kokoschka and Arthur Schnitzler), Schorske answered without hesitation, Mahler.

Thanks for everything, Maestro.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Those of us who tend toward melancholia (Love that old term - so much better than depression.) can appreciate the depth of his joy and the that of his sorrow.

He was complex and very deep as a man and a composer. I love most all of his music.