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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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This Week in Mahler

Gustavo in rehearsal

With the first weekend of The Mahler Project successfully under our belts and behind us, you probably think we're ready for a well-deserved break, right?

Not on your life.

As followers of the festival know, The Mahler Project is just getting started. In fact, after an amazing opening weekend featuring Mahler 4, "Songs of a Wayfarer" and a stirring Thomas Hampson rendition of Mahler's Rheinlegendchen for an encore on Sunday night, this week is even more jam-packed with Mahler-related goodness.

Here's what's happening this week:

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The Mahler Project: First Impressions

If you know your Mahler, you know that the composer's Symphony No. 4 is considered to be his most whimsical and lighthearted. The LA Times' Mark Swed notes, in his review of Friday's night's concert, that Gustavo and the orchestra brought the necessary light touch to the work.

Gustavo Dudamel
Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

He writes:

Dudamel has begun his Mahler escapade light on his feet. It can’t remain like that, but it’s an appealing way to start out on an epic Romantic journey.

You can read Swed's entire review of the opening salvo of The Mahler Project here.

Who's ready for a Mahler marathon? This festival is just getting started!

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What Might Have Been

Some Mahler-loving YouTuber put this together and we felt like we just had to share.

Sure, Maestro Bernstein deals with the distraction admirably here, but still, we ask that you silence all cell phones and pagers while enjoying ANY of Mahler's nine symphonies.

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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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The LA Weekly on “Mahlerpalooza”

Gustav MahlerIt's no surprise that The Mahler Project is attracting attention from the local LA press - after all, it's a big undertaking and involves a solid three weeks of concerts here in town. We already linked to the LA Times' Mark Swed's article on Gustavo Dudamel and The Mahler Project - it featured an interview with our Music Director and was a thoughtful, serious piece that explored Gustavo's reasons for undertaking such a monumental task.

The LA Weekly, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach today. Calling the festival "Mahlerpalooza," the alt-weekly's West Coast Sound blog offers up a guide advising the best way to take in nine concerts in 22 days. Here's a sample:

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Let The Mahler Project Begin!

A few words that keep getting thrown around when discussing The Mahler Project: ambitious, monumental, massive.

But why? After all, orchestras have certainly presented Mahler cycles before – playing each of the composer’s nine symphonies in a short period. However, we think The Mahler Project is quite special. Let’s look at the numbers.

Nine symphonies. Two continents. Two orchestras. And one conductor.

That’s not even taking into account the (literally) 1,000 musicians that will crowd onto the stage of the Shrine Auditorium here in LA (and the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas) to perform Mahler 8, the so-called “Symphony of a Thousand.” A thousand is a big number for one stage. And this doesn’t even begin to factor in the logistics of moving Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela 3,600 miles to Caracas, Venezuela to do it all over again.

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