Paying respects to a hero

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is visit the grave of Gustav Mahler. Mahler has always been a hero to brass players for writing challenging and inspiring music, especially for us. For just about every audition for any brass instrument, there is at least one excerpt from a Mahler symphony.

When I had heard several months ago that the orchestra would be visiting Vienna, I made plans to go to the grave site. Together, with PSO trombonist Jim Nova, we made the 30 minute trip. We were a little concerned about the weather, since it had rained all morning. But, when we arrived at the grave site, the skies cleared for a beautiful afternoon.

It was such a great experience visiting the site, and certainly a moving one at that. We had decided that we would bring our instruments and play something. Jim played an excerpt from Mahler’s 3rd symphony, and I played the posthorn solo from the same piece. You can hear the PSO play the entire symphony in a few weeks, back at home in Heinz Hall.

It was so wonderful to pay our respects to a great composer — a composer that is constantly challenging us brass players to play our best. I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity!

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