Mahler Fun Facts

Mahler in LA


Gustav Mahler, at center, influenced LA more than most people know; his friends and devotees with connections to LA included (clockwise from top left) his wife Alma; and composers/conductors Otto Klemperer, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, Arnold Schoenberg and Bruno Walter.

More than midway through The Mahler Project, not much has been talked yet about Mahler in Los Angeles.

Mahler in Los Angeles? He never set foot on the West Coast, much as he would have liked to. As conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Mahler invented orchestral touring and visited 12 cities in the Northeastern U.S. in 1909-10. Had he lived longer, he might have made it out West and maybe to Los Angeles.

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ALOUD – A Conversation with Deborah Borda and Norman Lebrecht

Author Norman Lebrecht is Mad about Mahler, too - after all, he's written two books on the subject, including the recent Why Mahler: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed Our World.

Here's Lebrecht with the LA Phil's very own President and CEO, Deborah Borda, in a conversation about Mahler held by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles' ALOUD series and co-sponsored by The Mahler Project.

Why Mahler? Why Mahler? How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed Our World from ALOUDla on Vimeo.

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And Now For Something A Little Heavier…

Contrary to popular belief, the music of Mahler isn't all sunshine and light...


What makes the symphony-ending hammer blows in Mahler 6 happen here at the LA Phil

We're being facetious, of course, as Mahler's symphonies are famously dense and more than a little somber throughout - LA Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel noted in his post-concert talk after a performance of Mahler 1 that "no one loved to suffer more than Mahler." And, if there's a symphony that proves this fact, it's Mahler 6. After all, a symphony doesn't get to be known popularly as "The Tragic (der Tragische) without earning a reputation for being on the dark side - it ends with three crushing hammer blows - but, true to form, Mahler composed the work at a relatively happy time in his life.

Here are a couple of facts about Mahler 6 that you might not know:

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Your Mahler Project Cheat Sheet

Mahler cheat sheet

Just in case you were wondering what you were listening to...and this is pretty helpful for tonight, especially.

Thanks to John Bogenschutz and his Tone Deaf Comics for providing the Mahler-related chuckles.

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Musical Bookends with Mahler 4 and Mahler 10

When Gustavo Dudamel began his tenure as our Music Director, we played Mahler 1. It's already over two years later and here we have Mahler 1 again. But this time, especially after Thursday night's emotional performance, his interpretation has taken on a new glow and refinement. We've become his orchestra - with lightning-quick reflexes, sensitivity and virtuosity.

Thursday's performance of Mahler 1 was spellbinding - especially with the powerful way it ended with the Adagio of the 10th symphony - musically "bookending" Mahler's extraordinary but brief life. The viola section was especially poignant with its utterances, I felt.

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Mahler’s Number One – And Some Unfinished Business


The Hungarian Press wasn't too impressed with Mahler 1 when it premiered

Weekend #2 of The Mahler Project begins tonight, but the program will always be #1 in our hearts - because, after all, it's Mahler 1, the first complete symphony the celebrated composer wrote.

Being paired with Mahler 1 this weekend (except for Friday's performance) is the only existing portion of the unfinished Mahler 10, the Adagio. Combined, the two pieces present a vision of Mahler that is diametrically opposed - the young, nature-loving Mahler of the 1880s and the Mahler of 1910-11, dying of a heart ailment (and possibly a broken heart).

Here's what you might not know about these two bookends to Mahler's career:

Symphony No. 1:

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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

On your marks...get set...and GO!

That's right - after many months of anticipation (and many, many more of preparation), The Mahler Project officially begins tonight as Gustavo Dudamel leads the LA Phil and guest artists Thomas Hampson and Miah Persson in Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer and Symphony No. 1.

Gustav MahlerHere are a few Festival-friendly, wet-your-whistle type facts you might not know about each of these pieces:

Songs of a Wayfarer:

1) Songs of a Wayfarer (1883-1885) is not only considered Mahler's first "mature" work, but also the first of an entirely new genre of orchestral music - the "orchestral song cycle."

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