LA Phil Blog

Mahler Madness in LA – One Fan’s Story

Mahler Madness in LA – One Fan’s Story

musical notes

Editor's Note: Fan Fariba G. attended each of the 9 Mahler symphonies that made up The Mahler Project here in LA, including the performance of Mahler 8 at the Shrine Auditorium. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on Mahler with us. The above Mahler-inspired image, entitled "Mahler is Life," was provided via email by fan Elda C.

What can I say about Mahler's music? It's all about yearning, longing, gut-wrenching despair - it moves you like no other music. I think those who don't like Mahler's music are those afraid of allowing themselves to feel deep inside, to ask themselves questions of life and death and meaning. His music is abstract and can be interpreted many different ways, into many emotional layers.

Personally, I dove into his music about 12 years ago while taking a music appreciation class from Russell Steinberg, one of your lecturers. His passion influenced me to start reading and listening to everything. I studied Mahler's music not only in class but also alone, in many gut-wrenching emotional hours.

As you can imagine, for a Mahler fan like me, The Mahler Project was fantastic! I gave a Mahler Project Party on JAN 7, invited all my friends with whom I was planning on going to the concerts as well as those who have their own subscriptions. We watched Ken Russell's film and had fun the rest of the night with all his songs and symphonies playing in the background, I sent everyone home with a package of Wikipedia info on Mahler.

Not knowing this project was happening this year, I bought a ticket to the performance of Mahler 9 last year that Dudamel and the orchestra gave last spring - I had to hear and see how he handled it. It was a Friday matinee and I sat in there alone next a lovely elderly lady who was contemplating whether she should renew her subscription or not. I told her about my passion for Mahler so much that she held my hand during the adagio movement. She thanked me afterward and told me I got her so excited about it that she will continue subscribing.

After this concert, I knew that Gustavo Dudamel had what it takes to conduct Mahler. He makes the "big bang" moments as big as Zubin Mehta and the more longing moments so delicate that you feel that you just cant go on anymore. In short, he definitely knows how to interpret Mahler.

My personal Mahler favorites are Mahler 2 and Mahler 9, but really - I just love all of them. I listened to them on my drive back from each Mahler Project concert, and I went to sleep each night listening to them. During The Mahler Project, I submerged myself in each and every symphony, each and every night.