Saturday, February 28, 2015

Some things I didn't know about Gustav Mahler

First off, I wish I could share with you that Gustav Mahler had visited Kansas City, just as Strauss, Prokofiev, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Bartok, and Respighi had. But alas, I cannot. But I did look into this possibility and discovered that even though Mahler did not come to KC, he did in fact tour the United States 3 times with the New York Philharmonic. I have been reading excerpts from a great book called Gustav Mahler and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Tour America, by Mary H. Wagner. She gives a detailed account of Mahler's time as the Director of that fine orchestra from 1909 until his death in 1911.They embarked on three tours during the years 1910 and 1911 that took them to New Haven, Providence, Springfield, MA, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Utica, NY, Syracuse, and Washington D.C. Here is the headline from the Buffalo Evening News, December 8, 1910:

The reviews of the performances were generally very good, according to Ms. Wagner's research. have been there to see one of those concerts would have been incredible.

Last summer I had a great conversation with Tom Sudholt, Program Director of the Radio Arts Foundation in St. Louis. (you can see the full interview with Tom in my blog posted 10/19/14). I remarked that I loved that the classical repertoire is so vast, and there was so much to discover. Tom agreed. Well, very recently, a HUGE example of that came to light. Mahler is of course known for his symphonies, and his songs. But I remember thinking how cool it would have been if he had written chamber music, concertos, solo instrumental works, or string quartets.....right? Well, he DID write one quartet...the Piano Quartet in A minor. I Googled this question one evening, and Wiki brought forth a citation for it. It says it was written during Mahler's first year at the Vienna Conservatory when he was 15 or 16 years old. I am sure many of you may already know this....but I am not ashamed to admit that I HAD NO IDEA about it. Please do yourself a favor and listen to it....I think it is marvelous.

I learned later that Martin Scorsese used this piece in his 2010 movie, Shutter Island. Here is the has some graphic images......

Lastly, I learned that on this death bed in 1911, his has word was "Mozart".

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