LA Phil Blog

My Introduction to Mahler

My Introduction to Mahler

LewisIn the summer of 1966 or 67 I was playing in the Idyllwild (CA) Festival Orchestra as concertmaster. I had been in student orchestras at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, or ISOMATA - now called Idyllwild Arts - every summer but one since 1959. This, however, was the first time playing with conductor Daniel Lewis, then on the faculty of Cal State Fullerton, now retired from many years conducting and teaching at U.S.C.

Working with Lewis was wonderful - his conducting and musicianship were so much better than most conductors I had played with before and after that time - but what sticks in my mind and heart the most was my introduction to the musical world of Gustav Mahler.

Here was music speaking of the inner and outer worlds of mankind in his time, speaking of emotions and scenes - some of which I had had a glimpse of before, but certainly most of which I was yet to experience in my outer world but recognized as part of my inner world. Here was music that opened a universe of sound and song and emotions that took concertgoers many decades to recognize and embrace.

Of course, at that young age I didn't think consciously of Mahler's music like this, but I was thrilled and honored to be introduced to this very special aural and spiritual world.