Friday, April 9, 2021

Mahler's Titan

Gustav Mahler [1860-1911]
From Wikipedia: "Gustav Mahler  [July 7, 1860   –May 18, 1911) was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic Era composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation."  Mahler was born to Jewish parents and because of the intense hatred and antisemitism of the time in Vienna [graduating from the Vienna Conservatory], he converted to Catholicism later in life to be able to continue at a high level his music/conducting. Mahler's great masterpieces were not popular during his life, but "after 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century.

In 2016, a BBC Music Magazine survey of 151 conductors ranked three of his symphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time."  

Mahler composed 9 complete epic symphony's and one unfinished symphony. These were all magnificent masterpieces. Today we focus on his very first symphony, called "The Titan". 

From the Tales Post, HSO Performs a Titanic Symphony: "As in all of Mahler's brilliant symphonies this [Symphony #1] is a large work of just under an hour with a big sound, as Mahler scores this for a huge symphony orchestra.  This epic work has also been described as a symphonic tone poem." "... in his third movement Mahler brilliantly uses a variation of the children's song "Frere Jacques" in a slower tempo and D minor key to create a haunting funeral march.  Mahler also inserts a touch of a Jewish Klezmer sound that I love in this movement.  The dramatic "energetic" and long final movement, which brings back some of the earlier themes, begins in F minor before returning to the D Major key for an exhilarating climactic ending." 

From Discover Music: "Mahler poured everything but the kitchen sink into his symphonic debut, which covers a myriad of ideas from life, to death, nature, personal trauma, and philosophical thought. He later rejected the title he had given it, not wanting to limit the universality of its meaning. The first movement begins with a single note played in seven octaves across the orchestra, before opening to a light, folk tune."

Mahler's Symphony #1 was scored in D Major with it's final form having the traditional 4 movements: 1. slowly, dragging, 2. strong but not too quick, 3. funeral march and 4. energetic. 

Here is a video of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra performing Mahler's "Titan", conducted by the director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Andres Orozco-Estrada.   Please turn up the volume and play in full screen and enjoy one of Mahler's masterpieces.

Gustav Mahler: Symphony #1 in D-Major, "Titan"   



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