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Songs of the Earth: A Gustav Mahler Thread
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:03 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Mark A. Moore wrote:
This is great stuff . . .

M.


I'm glad you like the thread Mark...thanks for the feedback!!

Cool Cool Cool
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Jeff Mason



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 2:46 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Mark A. Moore wrote:
This is great stuff . . .

M.


There's really nothing more to say. We are all stunned to silence at Leo's knowledge and eloquence.
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Jeff Van Oockel



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 4:20 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Jeff Mason wrote:
Mark A. Moore wrote:
This is great stuff . . .

M.


There's really nothing more to say. We are all stunned to silence at Leo's knowledge and eloquence.


Yup. I'll print it out and use it as a guide for listening to Mahler. No expensive book needed.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 1:05 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Symphony No.1 in D Major

I. Langsam. Schleppand. Wie ein Naturlat.
II. Kraftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell.
III. Feierlich und gemesson, ohne zu schleppen.
IV. Sturmisch bewegt.

Orchestration

The final version is scored for a large orchestra typically consisting of about 100 instruments.

Woodwinds
4 Flutes (2 doubling Piccolos)
4 Oboes (1 doubling English Horn)
4 Clarinets in B-flat, D, E-flat, A (1 doubling Bass Clarinet, "doubled at least" in last movement)
3 Bassoons (1 doubling Contrabassoon)

Brass
7 Horns (with "reinforcement" in last movement)
4 Trumpets (with added Trumpet in last movement)
3 Trombones
Tuba

Percussion
4 Timpani (2 players)
Cymbals
Triangle
Tam-tam
Bass drum

Strings
Harp
1st & 2nd Violins (typically about 16 each)
Violas (typically about 14)
Violoncellos (typically about 12)
Double basses (typically about eight)




In his original program notes for his Symphony, Mahler wrote of the introduction, “spring without end.” However, I don’t think of spring when I hear this introduction. I imagine it is high summer, perhaps in August. I tend to have this poem on my mind when I hear those strings sing that endless seven octave A:


Further in Summer than the birds-
Pathetic from the Grass-
A minor Nation celebrates
It’s unobtrusive Mass.

No Ordinance be seen-
So Gradual the Grace
A gentle Custom it becomes-
Enlarging loneliness-

Antiquest felt at Noon-
When August burning low
Arise this spectral Canticle
Repose to typify-

Remit as yet no Grace-
No furrow on the Glow,
But a Druidic Difference
Enhances Nature now-




Now listen to the introduction to this Symphony. Mahler wanted the 1st movement to be ‘like a sound of nature.’ In the music, I have the impression of hearing the insects first…and then with the appearance of the woodwinds…the birds arrive. The crickets are most likely near death, completing their life cycle.

In my fanciful interpetation, the introduction to the 1st Symphony is actually a foreshadowing of the Hero’s death and the eternal bliss that lies beyond conditional existence (as heard in the strings alone). Perhaps not a literal death, but a death in the psyche—or the death of the hero’s childhood, brought on from a doomed love affair as heard in the funeral march of the third movement. We hear signs of the Hero through the developing fanfares throughout this introduction, first played by a trio of clarinets.

I hear a kind of loneliness in the introduction to this Symphony, but not a sad loneliness. It is a kind of eternal pulse, larger than the separate conditional “self” or individual. The individual may feel alone amidst the universal everything, yet the pulse of the ‘druids’ (as in Ives’s Unanswered Question) drones on…prior to birth and death.

Emily Dickinson has a similar passage in another poem that reminds me of the stunning seven octave A in the strings...like the poem quoted above, insects sing a kind of sacred song, which she likens to music used in a sacred ritual, such as a mass:

Here seemed to rise a Tune
From Miniature Creatures
Accompanying the Sun-

Far Psalteries of Summer-
Enamoring the Ear
They never yet did satisfy-
Remotest-when most fair.



Like Dickinson, Mahler also uses animals to 'parody' a religious tradition in the famous march of the 3rd movement. While Dickinson has crickets perform a Catholic mass in the long grass, Mahler has a bunch of forest animals perform a funeral service for the fallen “hero” of the Symphony.

In a program note for this movement (and later discarded), Mahler writes:

Funeral March “in the manner of Callot.” The following may serve as an explanation: The external stimulus for this piece of music came to the composer from the parodistic picture, known to all children in Austria, “The Hunter’s Funeral Procession,” from an old book of children’s fairy tales: the beasts of the forest accompany the dead woodsman’s coffin to the grave, with hares carrying a small banner, with a band of Bohemian musicians, in front, and the procession escorted by music-making cats, toads, crows, etc., with stags, roes, foxes, and other four-legged and feathered creatures of the forest in comic postures. At this point the piece is conceived as the expression of a mood now ironically merry, now weirdly brooding. (Mitchell 157–158)

to be continued…
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Last edited by Leo K on Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:43 am; edited 2 times in total
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 1:10 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Continued from above



Moritz von Schwind, “The Hunter’s Funeral Procession”


In their essay, Mahler and the Crisis of Jewish Identity, Francesca Draughon and Raymond Knapp write:

The movement in question begins with one of the most notorious examples of Mahler’s penchant for grotesquerie: a funereal, minor-mode presentation of a familiar children’s tune whose words and sentiments seem wholly inappropriate, thus implicitly asking, “steh’ schon auf?”—“Are you sleeping?” in the well-known English version—at a funeral. Early audiences were puzzled, even shocked by this movement, with its juxtaposition of a school-yard song with the topic of death, a situation exacerbated by Mahler’s refusal to provide extensive programmatic material for several early performances: Ferdinand Pfohl reported the music to be “strange, grotesque, and bizarre;” August Beer, after the Budapest premiere, characterized the funeral march as having “a note of parody that…produces a thoroughly strange impression;” and the audiences of the Weimar and Berlin premieres, having received almost no prior programmatic explanation, found the grotesque death march entirely absurd (Floros 39).

Mahler’s close friend and confident Natalie Bauer-Lechner remembered Mahler disclose how:

Even as a child he had never thought of “Bruder Martin” [Frere Jacques] as gay—the way it is always song—but rather, as profoundly tragic. Even then he could hear in it that he developed from it later. Actually, when he was composing, it was the second part of this movement that occurred to him first. Only later, when he was looking for a beginning, was he continuely haunted by the canon “Bruder Martin” over the petal point that he needed—until finally, with bold resolution, he adopted it.

In contrast to Emily Dickinson’s mention of ‘canticle’ (which is a sacred song sung at solemn vespers in honor of the mystery of the Incarnation) in her poem above, Mahler’s gypsy sounding tune in the second part is very similar to klezmer music in the Jewish tradition.

Draughon and Knapp write:

Perhaps the most obvious way to make a plausible case for the Jewishness of Mahler’s music would be to focus on a passage that actually sounds Jewish to many who hear it—not German with a Jewish accent, but frankly and openly Jewish. In the funeral march (third movement) of the First Symphony, after the canonic, minor-mode version of “Bruder Martin” that opens the movement, we hear music that has struck many listeners as klezmer-like. This passage was, indeed, not only “Exhibit A” in Bernstein’s presentation of Mahler as a “double man,” but also the most likely point of reference for Louis’s [anti-semite critic Rudolph Louis] vitriolic dismissal of Mahler, situated as it is within his “Titan” symphony and indulging what might well be taken, unsympathetically, as “seamstress-like sentimentality.” Both Carl Schorske and Theodor Adorno take note of the passage’s disruptive quality, drawing attention to the ability of this “raucous tune” to strip the funeral march of its earnestness (Schorske, Gustav Mahler 12), and hearing the disruption as an “unmediated contrast to the point of ambivalence between mourning and mockery” (Adorno 52). Indeed, the interpolation not only conflicts with the tone of the preceding canon, but also projects an internal conflict, between an overt sentimentality (already undercut through its own schmaltzy exaggeration) and the dance-band rhythms that twice interrupt it. But even apart from its affective, gestural qualities, the passage disrupts through its colloquial or popular style; it is music spoken with dialect, as Adorno suggests, perhaps as far as one can travel from the “learned” style of the canon that preceded it (Adorno 23).

But is this passage Jewish? Although it has been taken to be overtly and obviously Jewish, it has also been heard as Hungarian or Bohemian, and many hotly deny that it is Jewish, or at least specifically Jewish. And it is eminently possible in performance to downplay its ethnic profile to a large extent, which some have elected to do. The issue is, after all, fraught with historical and emotional baggage. As Louis would have it, its Jewishness is involuntary, the result of Mahler’s attempt to pass himself off as German. And even if we find the Jewish quality deliberately contrived, we are—given the history of Mahler reception and the legacy of the Holocaust—understandably discomfited by its presence here as an intruding element, ostentatiously out of place. Perhaps, indeed, it is that we wish not or dare not to make sense of its Jewish character, for this line of inquiry is disturbingly tainted; we recoil from the pernicious essentialism of critics like Louis to the point that we hesitate to engage at all with the possibility of specifically Jewish elements in Mahler’s music. Nevertheless, a strong—if not definitive—case may be made for this music’s deliberately contrived Jewish profile, based solely on its technical features.



It is helpful to remember that Mahler was born a Jew, and always felt like an outsider. Again I refer to Draughon and Knapp’s article:

Mahler famously articulated his own position in the world as “thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, as a Jew throughout the world—always an intruder, never welcomed” (Alma Mahler, Memories and Letters 109; original; see map). We might suppose this statement to be somewhat exaggerated, since it functions both as a complaint and as a claim of authenticity for someone aspiring to be a Romantic Artist, but when we consider the reality of Mahler’s historical situation, it seems almost mild. Mahler was throughout his adult life indeed regarded as an intruding outsider, and precisely along the lines he indicates. Within Germanic culture, he was but an Austrian, and being an Austrian in Germany was not exactly an honor in the decades following their humiliating defeat by the Prussians in 1866. And if that weren’t bad enough, he was actually not quite even an Austrian, since he was from the Bohemian provinces. And if that weren’t bad enough, he was a Jew, and it would have been hard to top that as a disadvantage in Vienna at the end of the nineteenth century, for this was an historical moment when putting together the words “homeless,” “Jew,” and “never welcomed” could never have seemed more appropriate.

(To read more of this interesting article, go here: http://www.echo.ucla.edu/volume3-issue2/knapp_draughon/knapp_draughon1.html)

to be continued
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 1:26 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Continued from above...


And what about the quiet interlude in the 3rd Movement (the yielding, dreamy music that appears after the second klezmer-like part)?

The music from the interlude derives from the final song in a cycle of early lieder Mahler wrote called Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (or, ‘Songs of a Wayfarer’, written between 1883 and 1885). The song in question is called, "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz" ("The Two Blue Eyes of my Beloved").

Here is the text [translated from the German]:

Those two bluest of eyes of my dear love.
They now have sent me away into the world.
So I must say farewell now, and leave this
dearest place.

O eyes of blue, why did you gaze at me
with love?

Now all I ever know is pain and grieving.
I must leave this place now in still of
night, in stillest night, in the darkness
I go through the heathland.

There is no one to say farewell,
my companion is love and grief.
By the roadside stands a linden tree,
I rested at last within its shadow.

Under the linden tree, it's branches
have showered me with blossoms white.
I then forgot all the pain of life
and all was well once more.

Ah, all was well once more.
All, all gone, love and grief,
the world and dreams.


Mahler was in love with a singer named Joanna Richter at the time he was writing the Wayfarer song cycle, and apparently she was still on his mind when he later worked on the 1st Symphony.

In his article called Gustav Mahler’s Blumine: a love story, Jeffery Gantz tells the story:

It's the stuff of Hollywood romance: a famous composer, a blue-eyed blonde soprano, a love-letter symphony with a mysterious lost movement, and an unhappy ending. It's a detective story, too, since we can trace the aftermath of the relationship in the composer's subsequent symphonies….Gustav Mahler began his First Symphony in 1884. At the time, he was second conductor at the Royal and Imperial Theater in Cassel (in the middle of Germany), and he was in love with one of his singers, Johanna Richter. Newspaper accounts praise her beauty (if not her singing), and it can scarcely have escaped the romantic 24-year-old conductor that his favorite girl had the same name as his favorite writer, the early-19th-century novelist Jean Paul (who was christened Johann Paul Richter). There appears to be no photo of Johanna, but in the break-up quartet of songs that he completed in 1884, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ("Songs of a Wayfarer"), Gustav describes seeing her blue eyes when he looks up to Heaven and her blond hair blowing in the wind when he walks through the yellow fields. He wrote her love poems; he agonized over her, calling her "enigmatic as always." A letter to his friend Fritz Löhr describes a New Year's Eve spent at her house in teary silence as they waited for 1885 to arrive. That year, Mahler left Cassel for Prague. He never saw Johanna again.

That little dreamy interlude near the end of the third movement drifts in like a wish come true. And it is the highpoint for me in the whole work. It brings to mind those moments of human contact that make all the difference, orr maybe a memory of those kinds of moments. A little pocket of oasis that disappears forever…never to be lived again.

Henry-Louis de la Grange describes another ‘hopeless’ love affair during the writing of the 1st Symphony:

In 1884 the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen were the outcome of his infatuation with a soprano [Joanna Richter] at the Kassel Theatre, where he held the post of Kapellmeister. This cycle of songs for voice and orchestra was destined to remain undisturbed among his papers for almost twelve years. Meanwhile another hopeless love affair—the object of his affection this time was married and a mother of four children—again triggered the creative process: 'these emotions had reached such a degree of intensity in me that they suddenly burst out in an impetuous stream'. That was in 1888. Mahler, now 27, was conductor at the Leipzig Theatre. The lady in question was none other than the wife of Weber's grandson, wife of the man who had provided to Mahler the unfinished sketches for a comic opera by his grandfather, the great Karl Maria. By completing Die drei Pintos, Mahler achieved the first notable success in his career as composer, as the task involved as much original composition as rearrangement. His passion for Marion von Weber thus plunged him into the deepest despair, for he could never forget that his relationship with her involved a betrayal of the generous friendship her husband offered him. Early in the new year, 1888, the Leipzig Opera was closed—Germany was in mourning for its emperor Willhelm I—and for a few short days Mahler could devote himself without interruption to composing. Begun in January, his Symphonic Poem, later to be called his First Symphony, was finished in March. It had five movements, for Mahler had inserted a little Andante borrowed from an earlier piece of stage music.

The second song in the Wayfarer cycle appears in the first movement of the Symphony. It appears in the restrained allegro after the evocative introduction. Here is the text of the song:

Walking in the fields today
dew still on the grasses hung,
spoke to me the merry finch:

Hey you there!
Hey, good morning, is it not a
lovely world?

Sing, sing lovely and bright.
Ah, how much I love the world.
And the hairbell in the field,
in her happiness she sings
and her tiny bells will ring, faintly ring.
Hear her morning greetings ring.

Is it not a lovely world?
Ding, ding, lovely thing.

Ah, how much I love the world. Heigh, ho.
Now the sun is shining bright,
fills the world with sparkling light.

All then, all has gained its brightest hue,
in sunshine, birds and flowers
great and small.

Lovely day, is it not a lovely world?
Hey you there, lovely world.
will my joy come back to me?

Oh no, this I know.
No, never, never can it be.


Again, I can’t help thinking of Emily Dickinson here:

I have a Bird in spring
Which for myself doth sing --
The spring decoys.
And as the summer nears --
And as the Rose appears,
Robin is gone.

Yet do I not repine
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown --
Learneth beyond the sea
Melody new for me
And will return.

Fast is a safer hand
Held in a truer Land
Are mine --
And though they now depart,
Tell I my doubting heart
They're thine.

In a serener Bright,
In a more golden light
I see
Each little doubt and fear,
Each little discord here
Removed.

Then will I not repine,
Knowing that Bird of mine
Though flown
Shall in a distant tree
Bright melody for me
Return.


to be continued...
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Last edited by Leo K on Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:32 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Continued from above...

By the way, in the Grantz and la Grange quotes above there is mention of a ‘mysterious’ andante movement that was taken out of the Symphony. Mahler called this movement ‘Blumine.’ I refer you back to Jeffery Gantz for the ‘rest’ of the story:

But it's that discarded second movement that's the key to our detective story -- and our love story. Blumine started out life back in 1884 as a trumpet intermezzo in Der Trompeter von Säkkingen (a suite of incidental music Mahler was obliged to write to accompany Joseph von Scheffel's popular if lowbrow romantic poem) before becoming, temporarily, part of the First Symphony. Since neither the Trompeter music nor the 1889 or 1893 version of Mahler's symphony appeared to have survived, this love serenade -- which Gustav had to have written with Johanna in mind -- was thought to be lost forever. Then in 1959, the 1893 manuscript turned up at Sotheby's (it's now at Yale). Although Blumine got included in a few LP recordings (Frank Brieff, Eugene Ormandy, Wyn Morris, Iván Fischer, and, yes, Seiji Ozawa with the BSO!), it was never accepted by mainstream Mahler conductors like Walter, Bernstein, Rafael Kubelik, Georg Solti, and Bernard Haitink, and it hasn't found favor with either of the two beacons of contemporary Mahler scholarship, Henry-Louis de La Grange ("pretty, charming, lightweight, urbane, and repetitious") or Donald Mitchell ("A great deal -- perhaps a great deal too much -- has already been said and written about this slender movement").
La Grange and Mitchell left out "sentimental" (so is Jean Paul), but otherwise they're right: Blumine is a mash note in the middle of a musical masterpiece. But does it really not belong? And did Gustav really forget Johanna so easily?


Now who is this hero is Mahler’s story? Who is this protagonist who gets his heart broken and then takes off for the real world at the end?


Jean Paul (1763-1825)

Originally the Symphony was named The Titan(1800-1803), which is also the title of a novel that Mahler admired, by a prolific writer named Jean Paul (1763-1825). There has been some controversy whether Mahler actually titled his Symphony after the novel. Mahler’s close friend Natalie Bauer-Lechner reported that, “[People] connected [Mahler’s] ‘Titan’ with Jean Paul’s. But all he had in mind was a powerfully heroic individual, his life and suffering, struggles and defeat at the hands of fate.”

After looking into this matter quite extensively, Donald Mitchell wrote:

I do not doubt that in the symphony we do encounter a protagonist and that the protagonist was in a very real sense Mahler himself. But the world in which the titanic hero plays out this role, the kind of experiences he undergoes, and the unique flavor of those experiences, and the imagery which embodies them—these seem to me to owe a lot to the world of Jean Paul as revealed in his Titan novel; and it is at this level that the common title takes on a real significance.

[excerpt from “Titan”]

A second world twilight-world, such as tender tones picture to us, an open morning-dream spreads out before thee, with high triumphal arches, with whispering labyrinthine walks, with islands of the blest; the pure snow of the sunken moon lingers now only on the gores and triumphal gates, and on the silverdust of the fountain-water, and the night, flowing off from all waters and vales, swims over the Elysian fields of the heavenly realm of shadows, in which, to earthly memory, the unknown forms appear like Otaheite-shores, pastoral countries, Daphnian groves, and poplar-islands of our present world—wondrous lights glide through the dark foliage, and all is one lovely, magic confusion.




to be continued...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:39 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

continued from above


“Full sail” was Mahler’s own description of the second movement, a true “Landler” or German country dance. Here the Hero of our symphony journeys in waltz time, to the key of A major (and F major in the middle section).

This movement was my door to this symphony when I was first getting to learn it. I remember being first struck by this music while at some bus stop on a winter evening, across the street from the world famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I had a cassette of Bernstein’s account on DG in the walkman. I had heard the symphony before, but sometimes it takes a few listens for gold to strike. The energy and suggestion of old world pastoral was very powerful and all consuming.

Carefree. Bright midsummer sun. Long stretching grassy fields. Warfaring. Mountains. Running rivers. Miller’s daughters on the shore…smiling and reaching out to you:

There is no echo quite like the song of Isabelle.
No storm has a force that can breathe and thunder
As quiet as a kiss on the shore of her smile.

Did we forget to listen? To overhear she is well?
When she exits wearing black we are left to wonder
How there is no echo like the song of Isabelle.

Her skirt twirls about her legs windswept by a gale,
The pause after lightning resonates more than summer,
As quiet as a kiss on the shore of her smile.

Did you see her walking so soon after she fell?
Whispering the name she lost when she was younger,
And there is no echo quite like the song of Isabelle.

In that house she accepted how this distance was so fragile,
Red blush on her cheeks was the proof of a fire
As quiet as a kiss on the shore of her smile.



Unlike Mahler’s other Landler movements in later works, this Landler is rather short in duration, and the basic feel of Mahler’s sound world and style can be appreciated and enjoyed more quickly. This movement is perfect to throw on when you need a Mahler fix and time is short.

Kelly Dean Hansen describes the “Landler” as used in this symphony:

This is as close as Mahler ever came to classical scherzo/trio form. The first section is about as long as that of a typical romantic scherzo, modulates to the dominant (E), as it should, and even has a conventional repeat sign. It is in the second, developmental part of the scherzo proper that Mahler modestly expands the expected boundaries. The tempo translates as "with powerful motion."

The descending fourth in the bass is, of course the same as that in the introduction to the first movement, even at the same pitch level, although the key of A is here immediately established. The first section introduces all of the building blocks of the main movement. The "cheering" octaves in the higher strings are a typical gesture of the Ländler. These continue as the bass sticks to the "oom-pah" descending fourths. The winds then present the main, lusty melody in rich harmonization, the triangle adding a distinctive timbre. Then the roles are reversed, the winds taking the "cheers" and the violins the melody. Toward the end of the section, two ideas important to the following development are introduced: a stepwise rising fifth in the trumpets and seven-note rhythm beginning with a triplet (replacing the oom-pahs in the bass) in the violins.

The following developmental section concentrates on this last seven-note figure, as well as the rising trumpet motto. Coarse punctuations from stopped horns are also introduced. The harmony moves from E, where the first section ended, through D and then C-sharp, where the music remains for some time and where Mahler introduces a stormy string passage marked "wild." The music of the main section returns via a quiet, but intense transition in the low strings, and it promptly picks up speed, accelerating to an exciting conclusion that includes the rhythmic trick of implied duple meter toward the end.

The trio section [the quieter middle section of the dance] is somewhat tamer, marked "quite leisurely." It replaces the rustic Ländler with the more refined waltz. It begins after a brief "lead-in" from the horn. The first section is in F major and is characterized by downward sweeping octaves and sixths. A full close in F is reached. The remainder of the trio is less stable, beginning in D and moving gradually to C major. A new, yearning cello melody is now heard, which moves to the violins. Most surprisingly, the rising trumpet motto from the main Ländler intrudes in the remote key of F-sharp in a briefly "fresher" tempo. When the "yearning" melody is heard a second time, the flutes play a melody reminiscent of the "seven-note figure" from the Ländler.



Henry Louis de La Grange writes:

This is undoubtedly the most rustic of all Mahler's Scherzos in Ländler form, but it is also one of the most enjoyable. Several motifs in it are derived from a Lied Mahler composed when he was 20 years old, Hans und Grethe. In the Trio (Recht gemächlich. Etwas langsamer [restrained. Somewhat slower], F major), the dance becomes more graceful; the shadow of Bruckner can be glimpsed here, no doubt because the Ländler and waltzes come from the same Austrian folklore sources.


to be continued..
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:32 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Death in Venice Surprised

Made all the more haunting by the astounding Mahler pieces. Fuck.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Matinee Idyll (129) wrote:
Death in Venice Surprised

Made all the more haunting by the astounding Mahler pieces. Fuck.


Joe, soon I will post a killer version of Mahler's 5th for you and Danielle.

It's funny, but I've never seen that film Embarassed
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:36 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

1st Symphony essay concluded...

Henry-Louis de La Grange writes of the Finale of this symphony:

This movement, in sonata form, is the only big dramatic movement in the symphony. There is a short introduction that presents, in quick review, fragments from most of the later thematic material. The principal theme, expressing determination, pride and warlike ardour, is one of those ascending motifs that, in all Mahler's works up to the Lied von der Erde, appear every time he wishes to suggest aspiration to transcendence and to a higher order.

The somewhat Tchaikovskian character, very exceptional in Mahler, of the second thematic element (Sehr gesangvoll [very songlike], D-flat major] has often been noticed, but the mystical stillness of the long violin cantilena is also intensely Mahlerian. Its character is so remote from that of the first theme that Mahler was obliged to exclude it completely from the development that follows. The only element of contrast is provided at the end by an unexpected restatement of the introduction to the first movement. This flows quite naturally into a reprise of the second theme, which itself announces the recapitulation.

The form of this Finale is difficult to grasp at first, but it fascinates us today with its violent outbursts of conflicting emotions that suggest to us the influence of Berlioz and Liszt much more than of Bruckner. What is astonishing about this symphony is of course the novelty of its style and instrumentation, but even more the way it turns its back on contemporary trends, and in particular the world of Wagner, a composer whom Mahler idolised, in order to return to the sources of German romanticism, the novels of Jean-Paul and the tales of Hoffmann as much as the songs of Schubert and the operas of Weber. Mahler was right after all when he spoke to Richard Specht of the curse that hung over him at the beginning of his career as a composer. Did not Beethoven's style, in his first works, owe much to Haydn and Mozart? Had not Wagner's music in his early years imitated the style of Meyerbeer? Why therefore did he, Mahler, at 20, have to be so totally himself?


Excerpts from Jean Paul’s Siebenkäs:

”Once on a summer evening I lay on a hillside
in the sun and slept. And I dreamed that I
awoke in the churchyard... I searched the
night sky for the sun.... All the graves were
open...below me the first tremor of a vast
earthquake...”

“High up in the vault of the church hung the
clock face of Eternity, on which there were no
numbers...And now a tall and noble figure
descended from the heights to the altar with
incomparable pain, and all the dead shouted,
‘Christ Jesus! Is there no God?’ The figure,
‘There is none.’...’Howl on discords, shatter
the shadows with your shrieks, for He is not.’”

”And when Christ saw the thronging press of
the worlds..., how one celestial orb after
another poured out its gleaming souls into the
sea of the dead, as a firework scatters
swimming sparks upon the waves, then he....

“[Christ] cried out, ‘Stark, silent Void! Cold,
eternal Necessity! Mad Chance! Are you
known to yourselves?...How alone is
everyone in the wide grave of the universe! I
have no one beside me but myself---O
Father!’”

“[Christ] ‘You unfortunates, you are not
healed after death...no morning comes and no
healing touch and no eternal Father! --Mortal
beside me, if you still live, worship Him now,
or you will have lost Him forever.’...an
immeasurably prolonged pealing of bells
began to sounds the final hour of time . . .
when I awoke.

“My soul wept with joy that it could worship
God again...and between heaven and earth a
glad and transitory world stretched its short
wings and lived, as I did, in the eyes of our
eternal Father; and from all of nature around
me streamed tranquil music, like distant
evening bells.”


Now read this poem by Mahler, written in Kassel, October 1884:

At the close of day, I sat, aloof, forlorn,
Thinking of the noon of my life's sun,
In bliss unbroken, calmest contemplation,
Oh—wildest wishes, to daylight yet unborn.

Through space as infinite as desert sand
There came the friend of those who yearn and pine
And freed me from the magic bond of time,
I followed him into a dreamy land.

I saw the world, stripped of all its lies,
—Monstrous flames here danced upon the shore
And through the dark abyss I spied a door
—Eternal life was right before my eyes.

The sea on which the hellish flames were buoyed,
My helpless gaze did founder in and sink,
Countless sparks there broke forth from the brink,
Rising up and up to vanish in the void.

Rising, disappearing, no end and no beginning.
—I heard a mournful knell of lamentation
Such pain—the hidden horror of creation.
As though aching to proclaim life's meaning.

Then, seized with fear, I trembled like a leaf
In boundless grief, I wished that I would die.
—Oh no!—"Not to perish! Not to die!"
Cease to be? Yes! By God!—To live!—To live! . . .
I saw it clearly—thou—"rich in mercy"!
Thou spoke to me—thy words still ring—
In pure compassion, knelt thou by my side!
Above I spied a snow-white, feathered wing
And saw an angel who down to me didst dive.
I knew him well—Have faith, sweet life, believe!
Bending down, sweet words of comfort he did bring.

Again I sit (and rack my brains)
To think up something nice for thee.
Look here, you fool! It's a serious thing, human life.
In a dream I saw my poor, mute life
—A saucy spark that broke free from the forge,
Which must (I saw) flicker out, into eternity.
(Then I awoke, both laughing and mourning,
And was gripped with a terrible yearning.)




Next...stayed tuned while I find some performances of this Symphony to post...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:48 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Gustav Mahler

Symphony No.1

NBC Symphony
Bruno Walter (September 15, 1876 – February 17, 1962)
8.IV.1939

http://rapidshare.com/files/36643223/Mahler_1-Walter-1939.zip



Bruno Walter was a close friend of Mahler, who under Mahler's mentorship became a master in his own right.

From the Wiki:

Walter worked closely with Mahler as an assistant and protege. Mahler did not live to perform his Das Lied von der Erde or Ninth Symphony, but his widow, Alma Mahler, asked Walter to premiere both. Walter led the first performance of Das Lied in 1911 in Munich and of the Ninth in 1912 in Vienna with the Vienna Philharmonic. Decades later, Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic (with Mahler's brother-in-law Arnold Rose still the concertmaster) made the first recordings of Das Lied von der Erde in 1936 and of the Ninth Symphony in 1938. The latter was recorded live in concert, two months before the Nazi Anschluss drove Walter (and Rose) into exile. These recordings are of special interest for the performance practices of the orchestra and also for intensity of expression. Walter was to re-record both works quite successfully in later decades. He recorded the Ninth in stereo in 1961, and one of his most cherished recordings is his 1951 Das Lied von der Erde with Kathleen Ferrier, Julius Patzak, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Walter also made a 1960 studio recording of Das Lied with the New York Philharmonic.

Nonetheless, Walter regretted that he could never hear Mahler himself conduct the Ninth and Das Lied; these performances should not be considered documentations of the composer's interpretations.




Born near Alexanderplatz in Berlin to a middle-class Jewish family, Walter began his musical education at the Stern Conservatory at the age of eight, making his first public appearance as a pianist when he was nine. However, following visits to one of Hans von Bülow's concerts in 1889 and to Bayreuth in 1891, Walter changed his mind and decided upon a conducting career. He made his conducting début at the Cologne Opera with Lortzing's Waffenschmied in 1894. Later that year he left for the Hamburg Opera to work as a chorus director, where he first met and worked with Gustav Mahler, whom he idolized and with whose music he would later be strongly identified.

In 1896 Walter took a conducting position at the opera house in Breslau—a job found for him by Mahler. This was where Walter started to drop his surname "Schlesinger", at the request of either Mahler or the director, in order to make his name sound less Jewish.[1] In 1897, he took an opera-conducting position at Pressburg, and in 1898 he took one in Riga, Latvia. Then Walter returned in 1900 to Berlin, where he assumed the post of Royal Prussian Conductor at the Berlin Royal Opera House, succeeding Franz Schalk; his colleagues there included Richard Strauss and Karl Muck. While at Berlin he also conducted the Berlin premiere of Der arme Heinrich by Hans Pfitzner, a composer who would become a lifelong friend of his.

In 1901 Walter accepted Mahler's invitation to be his assistant at the Court Opera in Vienna. Walter led Verdi's Aida at his debut. In the following years Walter's conducting reputation soared as he was invited to conduct throughout Europe -- in Prague, London (where in 1910 he conducted Tristan und Isolde and Ethel Smyth's The Wreckers at Covent Garden) and in Rome. A few months after Mahler's death in 1911, Walter led the first performance of Das Lied von der Erde in Munich, as well as Mahler's Ninth Symphony in Vienna the next year.

Although Walter became an Austrian citizen in 1911, he left Vienna to become the Royal Bavarian Music Director in Munich in 1913. In January the next year Walter conducted his first concert in Moscow. During the First World War, he remained actively involved in conducting, giving premieres to Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Violanta and Der Ring des Polykrates as well as Pfitzner's Palestrina.

Walter ended his appointment in Munich in 1922, and left for New York, the United States in 1923, working with the New York Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall; he later conducted in Detroit, Minnesota and Boston.

Back in Europe Walter was re-engaged for several appointments, including Berlin in 1925, as musical director at the Städtische Opera, Charlottenburg and Leipzig in 1929. He made his debut at La Scala in 1926. In London, Walter was chief conductor of the German seasons at Covent Garden from 1924 to 1931.

In 1933, when the Nazi party began to bar his musical appointments in Germany, Walter left for Austria. Austria would remain the main center of activity for the next several years, although he was also a frequent guest conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1934 to 1939, and made guest appearances such as in annual concerts with the New York Philharmonic from 1932 to 1936. When Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, France offered Walter citizenship, which he accepted; however, in November 1, 1939, he eventually set sail for the United States, which became his permanent home. Beverly Hills, California remained Walter's residence for many years, and his many expatriate neighbors included the German writer Thomas Mann.

While Walter had many influences within music, in his Of Music and Making (1957) he notes a profound influence from the philosopher Rudolf Steiner. He notes, "In old age I have had the good fortune to be initiated into the world of anthroposophy and during the past few years to make a profound study of the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Here we see alive and in operation that deliverance of which Hoelderlin speaks; its blessing has flowed over me, and so this book is the confession of belief in anthroposophy. There is no part of I my inward life that has not had new light shed upon it, or been stimulated, by the lofty teachings of Rudolf Steiner ... I am profoundly grateful for having been so boundlessly enriched ... It is glorious to become a learner again at my time of life. I have a sense of the rejuvenation of my whole being which gives strength and renewal to my musicianship, even to my music-making."

During his years in the United States, Walter worked with many famous American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (where he was musical adviser from 1947 to 1949), and the Philadelphia Orchestra. From 1946 onwards, he made numerous trips back to Europe, becoming an important musical figure in the early years of the Edinburgh Festival and in Salzburg, Vienna and Munich. His late life was marked by stereo recordings with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra. He made his last live concert appearance on December 4, 1960 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and pianist Van Cliburn. His last recording was a series of Mozart overtures with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra at the end of March in 1961.

Bruno Walter died of a heart attack in his Beverly Hills home in 1962.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:15 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Gustav Mahler

Symphony No.1

F. Charles Adler
Vienna Symphony Orchestra
1952

http://rs126tl.rapidshare.com/files/43693397/M1_Adler__VSO__1952__128_.rar



This is my favorite recording of this work. I simply love the "old world" playing from the VSO, and I like Adler's tempo choices...through this old mono recording a mood, a pastoral mood, has been captured in a magnificant way. Here are excerpts from an excellant review on Amazon:

This Tahra 2-disc CD set contains previously unreleased 1952 radio broadcast performances of the Mahler 1st and the Bruckner 6th, both with the Vienna Symphony conducted by F. (for Frederick) Charles Adler (1889-1959). Adler was a Mahler pupil who served as chorusmaster in the composer's 12 September 1910 world premiere of the 8th Symphony at Munich. Adler was one of only five Mahler associates who recorded any of the composer's symphonies (the others: Oscar Fried, Willem Mengelberg, Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter)...

Adler was born in London to an English-German banking family. He studied briefly with Mottl (who also mentored Abendroth and Furtwangler). He held various appointments at Ljubljana and Dusseldorf and in 1924-31 was head of broadcasting for the German state radio in Berlin. Adler also operated a publishing house, Edition Adler, which issued music of then little known composers like Charles Ives. Adler emigrated to the United States in 1933 and married Hannah Moriarta in 1936. His wife came from a wealthy family in Saratoga Springs, New York, where she and Adler settled.

Adler was something of a hero to early LP record collectors for his first-ever recordings of such works as the Mahler 3rd & 6th Symphonies, the Bruckner Mass #1, the Liszt Dante Symphony, and a slew of others. The LP notes for that Mahler 3rd were written by Mahler's widow Alma, who concluded by saying "score readers will note that in several places there are small deviations between the published score and the music heard. These differences represent corrections which Mahler himself made after the publication of the score." These recordings were all issued on Adler's own SPA LP label, which ostensibly stood for "Society of Participating Artists" (SPA was really a play on words referring to Saratoga Springs, a town well-known as a resort spa). The Mahler 3 & 6 have been issued in England on the Conifer CD label (lousy transfers). There is also a slightly faster, "live" Adler-conducted 3rd on Tahra 340-341.

This is NOT a set for those who prefer the cool, fast precision of a Reiner or Szell. Adler was not that type of conductor nor was he at that level of excellence. Most of his recordings could perhaps be best described as "noble interpretations, imperfectly realized." If you have heard early 1950's Vienna Symphony recordings by Scherchen, Klemperer or Horenstein, you will know what to expect here: frequent instances of scrappy playing and some "old world" expressive touches in the strings.

The Mahler 1st is, like Adler's other Mahler recordings, rather on the slow side. The opening is broad and aptly mysterious, and throughout there is far more use of expressive string portamento than is heard today (Horenstein's early 1950's Vox recording also has this feature). The entire performance is very rustic (the very slow Trio is really hypnotic). There are some truly "gauche" moments (the strings aren't always quite together in the Scherzo's da capo and in a few instances elsewhere). To my ears, this is one of the essential mono Mahler 1sts, along with the earlier Mitropoulos, Scherchen's, the Horenstein, and the possibly pseudonymous Ernst Borsamsky (see my review of the latter). My favorite stereo 1st - by a wide margin - is the "live" Kubelik (Audite CD).

Very highly recommended.

Jeff Lipscomb

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Gustav Mahler

Symphony No.1

Castellanos

Santa Cruz de Pacairigua

Bruch

Violin Concerto Nº1 Op. 26

Pinchas Zukerman, Violin
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor

Main Hall of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
RADIO BROADCASTING de www.cso.org
IV.2007

http://rapidshare.com/files/40740715/CSO_-_Dudamel_-_Zuckerman_-_April_2007.rar

A very recent performance of this work with the famous Chicago Symphony, conducted by Dudemel...a rising star. Here is a review:

Gustavo Dudamel: The Real Thing – April 8

by The Tonic Blotter

The best for last: yesterday we heard Gustavo Dudamel with the CSO. Dudamel opened the concert with a rarely heard piece by Venezuelan composer Evencio Castellanos: Santa Cruz de Pacairigua - a 15-minute curtain-raising romp that provided an interesting link to the Mahler in the second half in its juxtaposition of seemingly disparate folkloristic elements. That Pinchas Zukerman afterwards performed the Bruch Concerto No.1 very idiomatically, though with scratchy doublestops and extremely schmaltzy vibrato after that was practically irrelevant, for nothing could have quite prepared me for the Mahler 1 we were about to hear. I had seen a documentary about the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela a couple of years ago on German TV: the orchestra is the diamond in the crown of a system of youth orchestras designed to give impoverished children a musical education, get them off the streets and give them a meaningful occupation. The system is fully government funded, each child is given an instrument to keep and all of them are trained from the beginning in ensembles from as young as the age of three. The brainchild of José Antonio Abreu (he should be sainted), a trained petroleum economist, organist and composer, it has grown to encompass 125 orchestras around the country. The best young musicians are selected from the regional orchestras and flown to Caracas to participate in the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. Dudamel started conducting ensembles within this system from age 14. At 18, he was named music director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. The documentary I saw featured footage of a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 5th, brimming with rhythmic propulsion and youthful enthusiasm, if a little smothered by the sheer size of the expanded ensemble used.

As I have previously observed, you can’t fake it when conducting inexperienced youth ensembles. Either you are communicating your musical ideas clearly and unambiguously, or you will reap an unmitigated musical mess. Where an experienced professional orchestra can produce a competent performance of standard repertoire practically in their sleep irrespective of the conductor, thus blurring the distinction between the conductor’s achievement and the work of the musicians, a youth orchestra provides instant musical feedback by rewarding each conductorial mistake with musical replication of each error. Such then was the difference between Dudamel, raised in youth ensembles, and Philippe Jordan, who started out prematurely in the big leagues. Where Jordan swam along with the orchestra in Franck, Dudamel led the CSO towards a very unique and personal interpretation of Mahler.

Indeed, Dudamel’s Mahler interpretation could not have been mistaken for anyone else’s. There was an emphasis on the folkloristic in the vein of Kubelik, emotional impulsiveness a la Bernstein, but never heart-on-sleeve, slashing rhythmic precision in the spirit of Solti. But Dudamel was neither a copy of any of them, nor an amalgamation. Dudamel still let the music breathe where needed and stopped to smell the flowers. His baton technique throughout was an example of clarity. But more importantly, he had the guts to use it to maximum effect rather than produce a forgettable streamlined performance. I was reminded of the Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso: equally young, he nonetheless knows exactly how far he can push his machine to get the most out of it and win races. Like Dudamel, he never makes mistakes. On a number of occasions last night, I was downright frightened at the accelerandos Dudamel decided to take, only to realize that he knows exactly how far he can push the CSO: hardly another ensemble could have negotiated the hairpin turns Dudamel took without ever compromising articulation, intonation, balance or ensemble coordination. Yet, as daring as Dudamel’s ideas seemed, they were always eminently musical, serving Mahler’s concept, not distorting it. Unlike the hapless Jordan who had to play it safe, Dudamel took great risks and was rewarded for it. The audience burst out in ovations of rock-concert decibel levels. But Dudamel took not a single bow for himself but either stood amongst the CSO musicians or went around shaking hands and giving hugs to principal players who had excelled in their solos.

As we would say in German: Dudamel is a Jahrhunderttalent – a once in a century talent. Andrew Patner in the Sun Times voices hope that the CSO administration would show the foresight to appoint Dudamel as the next CSO music director. I was hoping the same thing after last night’s performance. Alas, it’s too late. As announced today, Dudamel has been appointed the next music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and will succeed Esa-Pekka Salonen at the end of the 2008/2009 season. Between LA, the music directorship of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra which he assumes next season and his ongoing commitments to the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, I’m afraid Dudamel will be busy for a while.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:00 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Gustav Mahler

Symphony No.1

New York Philharmonic Orchestra
Dimitri Mitropoulos

09.01.1960, live, mono, Carnegie Hall, New York

http://rapidshare.com/files/30569045/Mahler1_Mitropoulos_NY60.zip



This performance comes from the great Dmitri Mitropoulos. Here is a sketch of his life (from the handy Wiki):

Mitropoulos was born in Athens, the son of Yannis and Angeliki Mitropoulos. His father owned a leather goods shop at No. 15, St Marks Street, and Dimitris was born on February 18th, 1896. His precise birth date, however, is a matter of some ambiguity. Most American sources list it as March 1st, 1896 and this is the date the conductor himself always gave in his later interviews. The former date was given in many of his early interviews and program notes. Part but not all of the inconsistency may be explained by the fact that Greece only adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1924.

He was musically precocious, demonstrating his abilities at an early age. From the age of eleven to the age of fourteen, when Mitropoulos was in secondary school, he would host and preside over informal musical gatherings at his house every Saturday afternoon. His earliest acknowledged composition - a sonata for violin and piano, now lost - dates from this period.

He studied music at the Athens Conservatoire as well as in Brussels and Berlin, with Ferruccio Busoni among his teachers. From 1921 to 1925 he assisted Erich Kleiber at the Berlin State Opera and then took a number of posts in Greece. At a 1930 concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, he played the solo part of The Prokofiev 3rd piano concerto and conducted the orchestra from the keyboard, becoming one of the first modern musicians to do so.

Mitropoulos made his U.S. debut in 1936 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and in subsequent years he settled in the country, becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1946. From 1937 to 1949, he served as the principal conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, after which he worked with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He became the Philharmonic's principal conductor in 1949 and left in 1957 to be replaced by Leonard Bernstein, to whom he had served as a mentor. He introduced many works by Gustav Mahler, including his 6th Symphony. Many of his live performances are now available on CD and are well worth investigating.

In addition to his orchestral career, Mitropoulos was an equally important force in the operatic repertoire. He conducted opera extensively in Italy and from 1954 until his death in 1960 was the principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, although the Met did not officially use that title at the time. His musically incisive and dramatically vivid performances of Puccini, Verdi, Strauss and others remain models of the opera conductor's art.

He was noted for having a photographic memory (which enabled him to conduct without a score, even during rehearsals) and for his monk-like life style due to his deeply religious beliefs (Greek Orthodox).

He died in Milan, Italy at the age of 64, while rehearsing Gustav Mahler's 3rd Symphony. One of his very last recorded performances was Verdi's La Forza del Destino with Giuseppe di Stefano, Antonietta Stella and Ettore Bastianini at Vienna on 23 September 1960. This operatic recording proves beyond doubt that he was a terrific talent in the Italian repertoire and only makes the lack of more Mitropoulos recordings of Verdi the more regrettable.

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