"It is music coming from another world; it is coming from eternity.” This is how Herbert von Karajan described Mahler's Ninth Symphony. Indeed, the work, lasting almost an hour and a half, creates a very special atmosphere. Although this was the last score the composer ever completed, we still cannot say for sure whether he was saying farewell to life with it, as he started working on his tenth symphony almost immediately afterwards and with undiminished vigour. It is indisputable, however, that the subject of the symphony is death: its mournful, grotesque, beautiful, and redemptive sides alike.
"Ninth symphony”. The number and genre together bring to mind Beethoven's final such work - and to the minds of composers in the 19th and 20th centuries as well. Mahler dreaded the ominous number, but his urge to compose got the better of his superstition. In 1907 he was diagnosed with heart problems, and he lost his four-year-old daughter as well, causing him inconsolable trauma. Despite all this, he remained active, both as a conductor and as a composer. He spent his summers in the Tyrolean mo...untains, where he produced his Das Lied von der Erde, the Ninth Symphony and a movement for his Tenth Symphony. These three - none of which were performed in Mahler's lifetime - are often referred to together as a trilogy. The gigantic first movement of the Ninth begins innocently but intensifies into cacophony; this is followed by a movement assembled from dances: a folksy ländler and a waltz. Then comes Mahler's most modern music, the Rondo-Burlesque, and, finally, the vision of the afterworld; its ethereal sound closing the solemn and touching work.
Presented by: Budapest Festival Orchestra
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