It is all too easy to take Gustav Mahler's symphonies and orchestral songs for granted in the 21st century's first decade. More than ever before, concert performances and recordings of these works abound, and at a level of proficiency that reveals the remarkable extent to which musicians worldwide have assimilated the composer's idiom. Given the music's primacy in today's central orchestral repertoire, we forget how the great Mahler advocates of the past had to champion his music in the face of adversity. "Who can bear those monstrous symphonies, those over-blown, out-of-date horrors," asked one leading music critic when the New York Philharmonic launched a Mahler Festival to celebrate the composer's 1960 centenary.
You will probably be as incredulous as I was to learn that the greatest cycle of Mahler symphonies comes not from any of the usual suspects - Abbado, Bernstein, Chially, Haitink, Kubelik, Rattle, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennstedt - but from the unsung Gary Bertini, who spent the better part of his career as music director of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. Unlike any of those more publicized sets, each of which includes a misfire or two, Bertini is consistently successful from first to last; his performance of each of these works can stand comparison with the very best available.
From the sounds outside his bedroom window–a kind of sonic goulash of military marches, ethnic dance bands, church bells, ritual prayer, and nature itself–Gustav Mahler created an entire universe of emotion in music. In an astonishingly productive twenty-five years, he fashioned ten symphonies and 45 songs of cosmic scale, great beauty, and jarring emotional twists and turns. And he did it all in the brief moments he could spare from his day job as one of Europe's preeminent conductors. In Gustav Mahler: Origins and Legacy, Michael Tilson Thomas returns to the provincial Austro-Hungarian city of Mahler's childhood, and bears witness to his grand achievements, great sorrows, and daring musical explorations into the depths of the human soul. Join MTT and the San Francisco Symphony as they trace Mahler's rise as a young conductor, his career-crowning appointments in Vienna and New York, his turbulent marriage and the sudden, tragic death of his daughter–and show how his stormy inner life inspired new and ever-more heartbreaking heights of creativity.
The life and work of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) in a film biography by Franz Winter, shot at the original locations – with previously unpublished original material – based on Uri Caine's engagement as a composer with the music of Mahler. This film covers the composer’s youth, his times in Prague and Attersee, his engagements at the opera halls of Budapest and Vienna, his marriage to Alma Mahler, the death of their daughter Maria Anna, his period in New York, his work on the Tenth Symphony, and his death. Jazz pianist/composer Uri Caine brings an eclectic array of disciplines and influences to his music. His own Jewish heritage, his classical and jazz training, and his interest in electronics combine in ambitious hybrids that are often challenging but always inventive.