As Mahler composed "Das Lied von Erde" Peary had just reached the north
pole, the "tin Lizzie" model T Ford was rolling off the assembly line.
Bleriot was the first to fly across the English channel. Russian
censors declared Rimsky’s "Coq d’Or" subversive and banned it from the
stage. Three suffragettes chained themselves to a statue near the
British Parliament. The general public here in the States had concerns
about the century’s first short skirts and W.H. Taft, first
golf-playing President, was inaugurated.
A "classical Romanticist," intense, dynamic, mystic, superstitious,
acclaimed as a great conductor, Mahler sought to win equal recognition
as a composer. This weeks "Das Lied von der Erde" is really a symphony
with vocal soloists in all but name. Of this work Arnold Schoenberg has
said that it
"conveys an almost passionless embodiment of beauty, perceptible only
to those who can renounce animal warmth and feel at home in the
coolness of the spirit." Mahler was never satisfied with the results of
his efforts. He was a fine pianist, and a strange person, who walked in
his sleep and went into sleep-like trances during his waking hours.
During a concert (in New York), in 1910, he collapsed on the podium. He
was taken back to Vienna to die.
All of the musicians in the PSO love the music of Gustav Mahler. One
of our greatest musical triumphs was the performance of the 7th
Symphony in Poland with maestro Lorin Maazel. It was one of those
magical moments where everything comes together and the music
transcends the earthly medium. We live for those precious moments.