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Some reflections on Mahler by Sir John Barbirolli
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Oscar
2014-11-11 04:45:52 UTC
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From the liner notes of the original 2LP set, EMI SLS 785, from 1969: Mahler Symphony No.5 with Five Rückert Songs (Janet Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli). Opposite William Mann's incisive notes on the works.

Q. Your name, Sir John, and the name of Gustav Mahler are almost synonymous to audiences wherever you conduct. Do you feel you have been one of the pioneers of what is described as the 'Mahler Renaissance'?

J.B. Yes, I think I may well have been. Actually the original Mahler pioneer was Bruno Walter, but sometimes he lacked the proper facilities. When I came to Berlin for the first time to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was very surprised to find that these musicians had previously hardly performed any Mahler at all. I then decided to conduct Symphony No.9, which I believe is his greatest in musical substance.

It is a source of great satisfaction that in the meantime, Mahler has become one of the most popular composers in England. Even in Italy, at the Scala, Milan, in Naples and Genoa, in each of these towns, they wanted to hear a Mahler Symphony conducted by me--and they did! Just imagine--in Italy! This made me very happy.

Q. Is there a new readiness on the part of the public to listen to this music in a different way, more attentively than before?

J.B. Previously people did not have much opportunity to hear Mahler. However, it may well be a point of interest that it is ordinary people who start loving Mahler, move by his humanity. Basically it was always the musicologists who have made critical pronouncements on Mahler, on his problems of form and other aspects. At the 1968 London 'Proms' I conducted the Mahler 6. There we had an audience of 7,000 people, many of them young: the majority of those in the arena stood in silence, for over one hour twenty minutes to listen. The next day in Venice, I conducted Symphony No.4. Few in the audience had ever heard the work, but such music touches the emotions. This is the uniqueness of it, that everything comes from the expressiveness of these scores. Mahler had so much to say (it is a long time since a composer had anything essential to say) and much of what he wrote strikes one in its language as new music. I think we agree that today no really great music is written, but good music, very interesting music that one should hear and know.

One of the most distinguished music critics is Sir Neville Cardus. Some ten or 12 years ago he came to see me and said 'John, my boy, you do not know it, but this music was written for you.' So I began to study Mahler symphonies--if you want to conduct Mahler well his music must be under your skin and in your bones. Because I subsequently spent two years studying one of these scores, I have, as it were, enriched myself in doing so, and it is a joy to me in my advancing years that I have found something which, apart from the connoisseurs, is new to people and is also of such mighty dimensions. Mahler's name is no longer a mystery--he has at long last become a monument.

Q. What do you regard as the specific details of Mahler interpretation?

J.B. There were people who laughed at me when I told them that I spent two years studying a Mahler symphony. Of course it does not take me two years to read these scores, but if you prepare for a journey through such immeasurably wide musical spaces, you must know exactly where the musical ideas begin and where they end, and how each fits into the pattern of the whole. In Mahler's symphonies there are many highlights but only one real climax, which one must discover. To do so needs less a simple study of the score than an all-embracing aesthetic reflection--which, incidentally, was also peculiar to Bruno Walter.

--Based on interview given by Sir John Baribirolli to the magazine 'Die Welt'.
Marc P.
2014-11-11 05:40:23 UTC
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Post by Oscar
From the liner notes of the original 2LP set, EMI SLS 785, from 1969: Mahler Symphony No.5 with Five Rückert Songs (Janet Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli). Opposite William Mann's incisive notes on the works.
Q. Your name, Sir John, and the name of Gustav Mahler are almost synonymous to audiences wherever you conduct. Do you feel you have been one of the pioneers of what is described as the 'Mahler Renaissance'?
J.B. Yes, I think I may well have been. Actually the original Mahler pioneer was Bruno Walter, but sometimes he lacked the proper facilities. When I came to Berlin for the first time to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was very surprised to find that these musicians had previously hardly performed any Mahler at all. I then decided to conduct Symphony No.9, which I believe is his greatest in musical substance.
It is a source of great satisfaction that in the meantime, Mahler has become one of the most popular composers in England. Even in Italy, at the Scala, Milan, in Naples and Genoa, in each of these towns, they wanted to hear a Mahler Symphony conducted by me--and they did! Just imagine--in Italy! This made me very happy.
Q. Is there a new readiness on the part of the public to listen to this music in a different way, more attentively than before?
J.B. Previously people did not have much opportunity to hear Mahler. However, it may well be a point of interest that it is ordinary people who start loving Mahler, move by his humanity. Basically it was always the musicologists who have made critical pronouncements on Mahler, on his problems of form and other aspects. At the 1968 London 'Proms' I conducted the Mahler 6. There we had an audience of 7,000 people, many of them young: the majority of those in the arena stood in silence, for over one hour twenty minutes to listen. The next day in Venice, I conducted Symphony No.4. Few in the audience had ever heard the work, but such music touches the emotions. This is the uniqueness of it, that everything comes from the expressiveness of these scores. Mahler had so much to say (it is a long time since a composer had anything essential to say) and much of what he wrote strikes one in its language as new music. I think we agree that today no really great music is written, but good music, very interesting music that one should hear and know.
One of the most distinguished music critics is Sir Neville Cardus. Some ten or 12 years ago he came to see me and said 'John, my boy, you do not know it, but this music was written for you.' So I began to study Mahler symphonies--if you want to conduct Mahler well his music must be under your skin and in your bones. Because I subsequently spent two years studying one of these scores, I have, as it were, enriched myself in doing so, and it is a joy to me in my advancing years that I have found something which, apart from the connoisseurs, is new to people and is also of such mighty dimensions. Mahler's name is no longer a mystery--he has at long last become a monument.
Q. What do you regard as the specific details of Mahler interpretation?
J.B. There were people who laughed at me when I told them that I spent two years studying a Mahler symphony. Of course it does not take me two years to read these scores, but if you prepare for a journey through such immeasurably wide musical spaces, you must know exactly where the musical ideas begin and where they end, and how each fits into the pattern of the whole. In Mahler's symphonies there are many highlights but only one real climax, which one must discover. To do so needs less a simple study of the score than an all-embracing aesthetic reflection--which, incidentally, was also peculiar to Bruno Walter.
--Based on interview given by Sir John Baribirolli to the magazine 'Die Welt'.
Of the Barbirolli Mahler I've heard (studio recordings of 1, 5, 6, and 9), for me the 6th is the only unqualified success. The 5th has many nice things but drags in places.

Marc Perman
Frank Berger
2014-11-11 14:26:51 UTC
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Post by Oscar
From the liner notes of the original 2LP set, EMI SLS 785, from 1969: Mahler Symphony No.5 with Five Rückert Songs (Janet Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli). Opposite William Mann's incisive notes on the works.
Q. Your name, Sir John, and the name of Gustav Mahler are almost synonymous to audiences wherever you conduct. Do you feel you have been one of the pioneers of what is described as the 'Mahler Renaissance'?
J.B. Yes, I think I may well have been. Actually the original Mahler pioneer was Bruno Walter, but sometimes he lacked the proper facilities. When I came to Berlin for the first time to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was very surprised to find that these musicians had previously hardly performed any Mahler at all. I then decided to conduct Symphony No.9, which I believe is his greatest in musical substance.
It is a source of great satisfaction that in the meantime, Mahler has become one of the most popular composers in England. Even in Italy, at the Scala, Milan, in Naples and Genoa, in each of these towns, they wanted to hear a Mahler Symphony conducted by me--and they did! Just imagine--in Italy! This made me very happy.
Q. Is there a new readiness on the part of the public to listen to this music in a different way, more attentively than before?
J.B. Previously people did not have much opportunity to hear Mahler. However, it may well be a point of interest that it is ordinary people who start loving Mahler, move by his humanity. Basically it was always the musicologists who have made critical pronouncements on Mahler, on his problems of form and other aspects. At the 1968 London 'Proms' I conducted the Mahler 6. There we had an audience of 7,000 people, many of them young: the majority of those in the arena stood in silence, for over one hour twenty minutes to listen. The next day in Venice, I conducted Symphony No.4. Few in the audience had ever heard the work, but such music touches the emotions. This is the uniqueness of it, that everything comes from the expressiveness of these scores. Mahler had so much to say (it is a long time since a composer had anything essential to say) and much of what he wrote strikes one in its language as new music. I think we agree that today no really great music is written, but good musi
c, very interesting music that one should hear and know.
Post by Oscar
One of the most distinguished music critics is Sir Neville Cardus. Some ten or 12 years ago he came to see me and said 'John, my boy, you do not know it, but this music was written for you.' So I began to study Mahler symphonies--if you want to conduct Mahler well his music must be under your skin and in your bones. Because I subsequently spent two years studying one of these scores, I have, as it were, enriched myself in doing so, and it is a joy to me in my advancing years that I have found something which, apart from the connoisseurs, is new to people and is also of such mighty dimensions. Mahler's name is no longer a mystery--he has at long last become a monument.
Q. What do you regard as the specific details of Mahler interpretation?
J.B. There were people who laughed at me when I told them that I spent two years studying a Mahler symphony. Of course it does not take me two years to read these scores, but if you prepare for a journey through such immeasurably wide musical spaces, you must know exactly where the musical ideas begin and where they end, and how each fits into the pattern of the whole. In Mahler's symphonies there are many highlights but only one real climax, which one must discover. To do so needs less a simple study of the score than an all-embracing aesthetic reflection--which, incidentally, was also peculiar to Bruno Walter.
--Based on interview given by Sir John Baribirolli to the magazine 'Die Welt'.
I'm curious about the history of Mahler performance. Barbirolli said he
was surprised that the BPO didn't play Mahler. That seems a little
naive, doesn't it? During the Nazi era, I assume (correctly?) that
Mahler was forbidden. I don't suppose the BPO played other Jewish (or
Jewish-born) composers during that time either. What about before the
Nazi era? Based on the Jewish artists that we know left Germany (or,
sadly, weren't able to) we know they had success there before the Nazis
came to power. What about Mahler? I have some recordings of Mahler
vocal music by the Berlin State Opera Orchestra from the late 20s and
early 30s, and a symphony #2 from the same orchestra from 1924 by Oscar
Fried. But not a single other Mahler recording out of Germany until
1951. Comments?

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graham
2014-11-11 15:34:26 UTC
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Post by Frank Berger
I'm curious about the history of Mahler performance. Barbirolli said he
was surprised that the BPO didn't play Mahler. That seems a little
naive, doesn't it? During the Nazi era, I assume (correctly?) that
Mahler was forbidden. I don't suppose the BPO played other Jewish (or
Jewish-born) composers during that time either. What about before the
Nazi era?
I think JB didn't conduct Mahler there until the 60s, well into HvK's
tenure.
Graham
Christopher Webber
2014-11-11 15:53:37 UTC
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Post by graham
I think JB didn't conduct Mahler there until the 60s, well into HvK's
tenure.
Correct. JB's surprise was warranted: in truth, "Fluffy" was a famously
late convert to the Mahler Cause, and when JB turned up the BPO still
weren't that familiar with much of his music.
Frank Berger
2014-11-11 16:09:55 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by graham
I think JB didn't conduct Mahler there until the 60s, well into HvK's
tenure.
Correct. JB's surprise was warranted: in truth, "Fluffy" was a famously
late convert to the Mahler Cause, and when JB turned up the BPO still
weren't that familiar with much of his music.
Why would Barbirolli be ignorant of the German orchestras having little
Mahler experience?

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m***@fastmail.fm
2014-11-11 16:19:41 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by graham
I think JB didn't conduct Mahler there until the 60s, well into HvK's
tenure.
Correct. JB's surprise was warranted: in truth, "Fluffy" was a famously
late convert to the Mahler Cause, and when JB turned up the BPO still
weren't that familiar with much of his music.
As Mahler himself said: "My time is yet to come."

1960 might have been a turning point: some half-century Mahler celebrations were organized, Cooke completed his 1st performing edition of Mahler's Tenth, Goldschmidt aired it, Alma Mahler was brought to tears, and the rest is, as they say, 'history'.

After that, it was not just Walter or Klemperer who tried to push Mahler's fame internationally, but also (and especially) guys like L. Bernstein, M. Abravanel, J. Barbirolli, R. Kubelik and others.

The only country where Mahler was already popular during his lifetime, and after that, was The Netherlands, thanks to Mahler's friend Willem Mengelberg and later on Eduard van Beinum, and where the literature Nobel prize candidate Simon Vestdijk wrote many articles about Mahler and was subsidized by the Dutch government to write a book about his oeuvre, published in the half-centenary year 1960 (again). This book had a huge infleunce on a certain Bernard Haitink, and thus the Amsterdam/Dutch Mahler tradition was secured (again).

Anyway, Mahler's fame worldwide really began to grow since the 1960s. Before that, his music had its admirers, but it was still considered by many as being, uhh, let's say, 'a bit odd.'
graham
2014-11-11 17:17:12 UTC
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Post by m***@fastmail.fm
After that, it was not just Walter or Klemperer who tried to push Mahler's fame internationally, but also (and especially) guys like L. Bernstein, M. Abravanel, J. Barbirolli, R. Kubelik and others.
The only country where Mahler was already popular during his lifetime, and after that, was The Netherlands, thanks to Mahler's friend Willem Mengelberg and later on Eduard van Beinum, and where the literature Nobel prize candidate Simon Vestdijk wrote many articles about Mahler and was subsidized by the Dutch government to write a book about his oeuvre, published in the half-centenary year 1960 (again). This book had a huge infleunce on a certain Bernard Haitink, and thus the Amsterdam/Dutch Mahler tradition was secured (again).
Anyway, Mahler's fame worldwide really began to grow since the 1960s. Before that, his music had its admirers, but it was still considered by many as being, uhh, let's say, 'a bit odd.'
In his entry in the 9th edition (1955) of the Oxford Companion To Music
it states: "he wrote symphonies (of a sort)"

Graham
D. Nada
2014-12-09 22:20:28 UTC
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Post by m***@fastmail.fm
The only country where Mahler was already popular during his lifetime, and after that, was The Netherlands
This is a common misconception that has been disproven by recent research. Allow me to quote from "A Performance History of Mahler's Works" by de la Grange:


Allow me to quote from the appendix of de la Grange's Mahler biography an article entitled "A Performance History of Mahler's Works":

"By the 1920s, in spite of the reservations of many musicians and critics, Mahler's works had won a permanent place in the concert repertoires of a number of countries: Czechoslovakia, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, and to some extent, Russia and the United States. Since we often think of Mahler's "time" as "having come" in the 1960s, it is surprising to learn how frequently his works were given in Europe prior to 1933 ... To date, more than 2,000 individual European performances of his orchestral works have been confirmed between his death and the outbreak of war in 1939, as well as another 200 or so that took place in the United States; in likelihood, the true number is even higher."

The record shows that Mahler was conducted by the likes of Fried, Nikisch, Mengelberg, Walter, Stokowski, Bodansky, Kajanus, and Strauss, as well as Walter. Mahler was apparently popular enough that Furtwangler, who made no secret of disliking his work, was compelled to conduct. The historical record shows that between 1919 and 1930, he gave multiple performances of symphonies 1, 2, and 3, the Fahrenden cycle and Kindertotenlieder, and also a one-off of Das Lied in 1916.
Lionel Tacchini
2014-12-10 07:48:12 UTC
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Post by D. Nada
Since we often think of Mahler's "time" as "having come" in the
1960s, it is surprising to learn how frequently his works were given
in Europe prior to 1933 ...
The time of frequent performance and the time of wide acceptance in the
repertoire are indeed different. I remember a friend in the early 80s
telling me that Mahler was still considered something special, something
others were a little surprised to see you listening to, something for
the curious.
--
Lionel Tacchini
D. Nada
2014-12-10 19:25:16 UTC
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
The time of frequent performance and the time of wide acceptance in the
repertoire are indeed different. I remember a friend in the early 80s
telling me that Mahler was still considered something special, something
others were a little surprised to see you listening to, something for
the curious.
I would suggest that for all practical purposes, "frequent performance" and "wide acceptance in the repertoire" are the same thing. Naturally, the audience reception of these performances will vary from place to place and from one individual to another. That's true to this day of Mahler, and quite a few other composers who we would consider to be widely accepted.
Lionel Tacchini
2014-12-10 19:50:55 UTC
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Post by D. Nada
Post by Lionel Tacchini
The time of frequent performance and the time of wide acceptance in
the repertoire are indeed different. I remember a friend in the
early 80s telling me that Mahler was still considered something
special, something others were a little surprised to see you
listening to, something for the curious.
I would suggest that for all practical purposes, "frequent
performance" and "wide acceptance in the repertoire" are the same
thing.
In which case that point in time is located somewhere in the 1980s for
Mahler's music. Not before was his work a staple of the standard
repertoire of upcoming major conductors.

But let us not waste time trying to define terms like "frequent" or
"wide". Mahler's music was seriously supported by important conductors
beyond his own friends already in the 1930s, became an important item of
interest for the US and UK audiences around 1960, championed by the
likes of Horenstein or Barbirolli in addition to Bernstein, then moved
to some sort of near mandatory status in the 1980s.
--
Lionel Tacchini
Frank Berger
2014-11-11 16:07:54 UTC
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Post by graham
Post by Frank Berger
I'm curious about the history of Mahler performance. Barbirolli said he
was surprised that the BPO didn't play Mahler. That seems a little
naive, doesn't it? During the Nazi era, I assume (correctly?) that
Mahler was forbidden. I don't suppose the BPO played other Jewish (or
Jewish-born) composers during that time either. What about before the
Nazi era?
I think JB didn't conduct Mahler there until the 60s, well into HvK's
tenure.
Graham
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?

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Christopher Webber
2014-11-11 16:19:47 UTC
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Post by Frank Berger
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
It does. It shows that they'd not been playing much Mahler between 1945
and Barbirolli's arrival in the late 1960's.

You might read your own posts, at least. As YOU YOURSELF pointed out in
an earlier post, other German orchestras had been playing and recording
Mahler from 1951.

The BPO was "behind the ball" compared with other German orchestras,
because of Fluffy's well-attested aversion to tackling Mahler. It wasn't
until 1970 that he performed 'Das Lied von der Erde' with them, and some
of the symphonies started trickling through in 1973.

Was it Barbirolli's Mahlerian success with the BPO which made Karajan
rethink the situation? I'm sure that others may have the answer to that
question.
m***@fastmail.fm
2014-11-11 16:41:54 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Frank Berger
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
It does. It shows that they'd not been playing much Mahler between 1945
and Barbirolli's arrival in the late 1960's.
You might read your own posts, at least. As YOU YOURSELF pointed out in
an earlier post, other German orchestras had been playing and recording
Mahler from 1951.
The BPO was "behind the ball" compared with other German orchestras,
because of Fluffy's well-attested aversion to tackling Mahler. It wasn't
until 1970 that he performed 'Das Lied von der Erde' with them, and some
of the symphonies started trickling through in 1973.
Was it Barbirolli's Mahlerian success with the BPO which made Karajan
rethink the situation? I'm sure that others may have the answer to that
question.
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil).
Pro-Mahler conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer, Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos, Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
Lionel Tacchini
2014-11-11 16:49:16 UTC
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Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the
Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil). Pro-Mahler
conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer,
Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos,
Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
Scherchen ;-)

Not that many, really, and of the big recognised names, only those who
had been his friends.

Has the BPO ever played Shostakovich? More than a couple of times?
--
Lionel Tacchini - very lazy today
m***@fastmail.fm
2014-11-11 16:56:58 UTC
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the
Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil). Pro-Mahler
conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer,
Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos,
Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
Scherchen ;-)
Not that many, really, and of the big recognised names, only those who
had been his friends.
Has the BPO ever played Shostakovich? More than a couple of times?
--
Lionel Tacchini - very lazy today
Scherchen, indeed!
And Schuricht.
And ....

(Krips?)

:-)

About DSCH: I must admit, I dunno. As much as I have a 'click' with Mahler's music, somehow Shos doesn't seem to work for me.
Christopher Webber
2014-11-11 17:13:56 UTC
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
Has the BPO ever played Shostakovich? More than a couple of times?
I witnessed them personally doing the 4th Symphony (superbly, with
Rattle) in the Philharmonie not so long ago. I had the impression that
this was not the first Shostakovich he'd performed with them, but I
don't have chapter and verse.
Lionel Tacchini
2014-11-11 19:10:40 UTC
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Lionel Tacchini
Has the BPO ever played Shostakovich? More than a couple of times?
I witnessed them personally doing the 4th Symphony (superbly, with
Rattle) in the Philharmonie not so long ago. I had the impression that
this was not the first Shostakovich he'd performed with them, but I
don't have chapter and verse.
I can find very little in terms of recordings. Karajan recorded the 10th
twice, Janssons did a 1st, Rattle did the 1st and 14th, a 5th by
Sanderling, the old 7th by Celibidache…

While Shostakovich is getting full cycles everywhere now, the BPO still
hasn't really recorded his symphonies and I assume the same could be
said for Mahler in the 1970s. They might be amongst the latest adopters
in term or repertoire.
--
Lionel Tacchini
Randy Lane
2014-11-11 19:24:57 UTC
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Did Haitink do DSCH during his BPO years?
jrsnfld
2014-11-11 20:30:55 UTC
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Post by Randy Lane
Did Haitink do DSCH during his BPO years?
What were Haitink's BPO years?

--Jeff
Randy Lane
2014-11-11 20:54:39 UTC
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Post by jrsnfld
Post by Randy Lane
Did Haitink do DSCH during his BPO years?
What were Haitink's BPO years?
--Jeff
His BPO Mahler recordings for Philips ranged from 1987 - 1995.
That's generally the period I have in mind.
Christopher Webber
2014-11-11 19:59:30 UTC
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
While Shostakovich is getting full cycles everywhere now, the BPO still
hasn't really recorded his symphonies and I assume the same could be
said for Mahler in the 1970s. They might be amongst the latest adopters
in term or repertoire.
I think that 4th I heard is to be had on DVD - or at least, it was.
jrsnfld
2014-11-11 20:43:52 UTC
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Lionel Tacchini
Has the BPO ever played Shostakovich? More than a couple of times?
I witnessed them personally doing the 4th Symphony (superbly, with
Rattle) in the Philharmonie not so long ago. I had the impression that
this was not the first Shostakovich he'd performed with them, but I
don't have chapter and verse.
I can find very little in terms of recordings. Karajan recorded the 10th
twice, Janssons did a 1st, Rattle did the 1st and 14th, a 5th by
Sanderling, the old 7th by Celibidache...
You're forgetting the Bychkov recordings.
Post by Lionel Tacchini
While Shostakovich is getting full cycles everywhere now, the BPO still
hasn't really recorded his symphonies and I assume the same could be
said for Mahler in the 1970s. They might be amongst the latest adopters
in term or repertoire.
Shostakovich isn't getting full cycles "everywhere." A label here and a label there have ventured into the territory on that scale, but most have a mishmash of recordings from various places, depending on whose on the conducting roster. Just because two different orchestras in Cologne have recorded two cycles doesn't mean that city is somehow more receptive to Shostakovich than, say Berlin. It's an accident of the recording business.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Orchestra got in on Shostakovich early and often with Stokowski and then Ormandy. They've recorded the 4th twice while many orchestras have barely touched it.

While they still play the music well and knowingly, nowadays one hardly assumes the Philadelphians have a special aptitude for Shostakovich nowadays (not any more than many other composers).

Actually, the Berlin Phil has recorded two Shostakovich symphonies--the 8th and 11th--that the Philadelphians have not recorded on disc, as far as I can tell.

--Jeff
Phlmaestro75
2014-12-06 18:54:17 UTC
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Post by jrsnfld
Actually, the Berlin Phil has recorded two Shostakovich symphonies--the 8th and 11th--that the Philadelphians have not recorded on disc, as far as I can tell.
--Jeff
I think they were the orchestra for the 11th in Jansons' EMI cycle.

The 8th is near the top of my list of pieces I'm dying to hear them perform live. I've only heard the piece live once, and not here in Philadelphia. I guess it's possible someone conducted it here at some point, but I don't recall it over the past two or three decades. I'd say the best shot of it happening now would be during one of Vladimir Jurowski's guest appearances. He's been coming here just about every season for close to a decade now and he has either led or will lead the 8th this season with the London Philharmonic.
The conductor I saw lead it live was Gergiev with his Russian orchestra in NYC. But it was at Avery Fisher Hall and I had a lousy seat. He would be another conductor who could potentially lead it here as he guest conducts in Philadelphia maybe once every five years or so. He's here this season. The main piece on the program is the Prokofiev 5th. I imagine it will be on the orchestra's weekly broadcast at some point.
jrsnfld
2014-12-06 21:11:36 UTC
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Post by Phlmaestro75
Post by jrsnfld
Actually, the Berlin Phil has recorded two Shostakovich symphonies--the 8th and 11th--that the Philadelphians have not recorded on disc, as far as I can tell.
--Jeff
I think they were the orchestra for the 11th in Jansons' EMI cycle.
You're right! My memory completely blanked on that one--and it's right there on my shelf glaring at me.
Post by Phlmaestro75
The 8th is near the top of my list of pieces I'm dying to hear them perform live. I've only heard the piece live once, and not here in Philadelphia. I guess it's possible someone conducted it here at some point, but I don't recall it over the past two or three decades. I'd say the best shot of it happening now would be during one of Vladimir Jurowski's guest appearances. He's been coming here just about every season for close to a decade now and he has either led or will lead the 8th this season with the London Philharmonic.
The conductor I saw lead it live was Gergiev with his Russian orchestra in NYC. But it was at Avery Fisher Hall and I had a lousy seat. He would be another conductor who could potentially lead it here as he guest conducts in Philadelphia maybe once every five years or so. He's here this season. The main piece on the program is the Prokofiev 5th. I imagine it will be on the orchestra's weekly broadcast at some point.
I've maxxed out on Gergiev Prokofiev 5s but I'll tune in to the broadcast, for sure. I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti, and it was fabulous but overshadowed by the Schubert 5 that opened the program.

--Jeff
Phlmaestro75
2014-12-06 22:31:09 UTC
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Post by jrsnfld
I've maxxed out on Gergiev Prokofiev 5s but I'll tune in to the broadcast, for sure. I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti, and it was fabulous but overshadowed by the Schubert 5 that opened the program.
--Jeff
I forgot when writing that last post that I enjoyed the Philadelphia broadcast of the 11th with Bychkov last season very much. I was supposed to see it live, but something came up and I had to trade in the ticket for another concert. I was very sorry about that after hearing the broadcast.
Al Eisner
2014-12-08 22:18:18 UTC
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Post by jrsnfld
I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti,
You weren't at this one with Rostropovich?

https://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/sfsym_2_11_03.php

(I was at that concert, and impressed by the 8th, although I have to
say that the work was fairly new to me at the time.)
--
Al Eisner
jrsnfld
2014-12-08 22:29:52 UTC
Reply
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Post by Al Eisner
Post by jrsnfld
I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti,
You weren't at this one with Rostropovich?
https://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/sfsym_2_11_03.php
(I was at that concert, and impressed by the 8th, although I have to
say that the work was fairly new to me at the time.)
--
Al Eisner
I miss far too many concerts, including that one. It's possible that I heard Rostropovich conduct the 8th back in Washington, DC, where I was fortunate to be a regular for a number of years. Usually Slava could be counted on to deliver such works with great emotional power.

--Jeff
Mike Painter
2014-12-09 05:14:06 UTC
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Post by Al Eisner
Post by jrsnfld
I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti,
You weren't at this one with Rostropovich?
https://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/sfsym_2_11_03.php
(I was at that concert, and impressed by the 8th, although I have to
say that the work was fairly new to me at the time.)
I was at the one on 2/7. It was a pleasure to hear Rostropovich's
interpretations and see his rapport with the orchestra whenever he was in
town.

cheers,
Mike
Al Eisner
2014-12-09 21:45:45 UTC
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Post by Mike Painter
Post by Al Eisner
Post by jrsnfld
I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti,
You weren't at this one with Rostropovich?
https://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/sfsym_2_11_03.php
(I was at that concert, and impressed by the 8th, although I have to
say that the work was fairly new to me at the time.)
I was at the one on 2/7. It was a pleasure to hear Rostropovich's
interpretations and see his rapport with the orchestra whenever he was in
town.
Some nitpicking with my own post: I didn't mean to imply I was at
the same performance reviewed, only that I heard that program (I
don't recall on which date). But I agree with you. Of the
several Shostakovich symphonies I heard him do in SF, this was
the one I found most memorable.
--
Al Eisner
Alan Dawes
2014-12-09 11:41:27 UTC
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Post by Al Eisner
Post by jrsnfld
I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti,
You weren't at this one with Rostropovich?
https://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/sfsym_2_11_03.php
(I was at that concert, and impressed by the 8th, although I have to
say that the work was fairly new to me at the time.)
His performance on 3/4th Nov 2004 of the 8th with the LSO at the Barbican
London is available on the LSO Live label SACD LSO0527. Recording
engineers find the sound a problem there but to my ears the surround sound
SACD layer is good (clearer and allowing a better awareness of where the
instruments are spatially) and better than the stereo CD layer.
See: http://lso.co.uk/shostakovich-symphony-no-8

Alan
--
***@argonet.co.uk
***@riscos.org
Using an Acorn RiscPC
Alan Dawes
2014-12-09 20:47:28 UTC
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Post by Alan Dawes
Post by Al Eisner
Post by jrsnfld
I think the only Shostakovich 8th I've heard live was CSO/Solti,
You weren't at this one with Rostropovich?
https://www.sfcv.org/arts_revs/sfsym_2_11_03.php
(I was at that concert, and impressed by the 8th, although I have to
say that the work was fairly new to me at the time.)
His performance on 3/4th Nov 2004 of the 8th with the LSO at the
Barbican London is available on the LSO Live label SACD LSO0527.
Recording engineers find the sound a problem there but to my ears the
surround sound SACD layer is good (clearer and allowing a better
awareness of where the instruments are spatially) and better than the
stereo CD layer. See: http://lso.co.uk/shostakovich-symphony-no-8
I've just spent an enjoyable time listening again to this recording in 5.1
SACD. It is an impressive performance and the sound is good - I wasn't
mistaken in my memory of it. I have also sampled the stereo CD layer and
the stereo SACD layer both of which do not seem quite so clear as the 5.1
SACD - more difficult to sharply pinpoint the instruments. I don't think I
can detect enough difference in the sound quality for me to be able to
choose which is the CD and which the SACD stereo layer.

Alan
--
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***@riscos.org
Using an Acorn RiscPC
Mr. Mike
2014-11-16 20:04:33 UTC
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On Tue, 11 Nov 2014 17:13:56 +0000, Christopher Webber
Post by Christopher Webber
I witnessed them personally doing the 4th Symphony (superbly, with
Rattle) in the Philharmonie not so long ago. I had the impression that
this was not the first Shostakovich he'd performed with them, but I
don't have chapter and verse.
There are 14 entries in the BPO's digital concert hall for
Shostakovich:

http://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/concerts/composer_dmitri%20shostakovich

Quite some time ago, I watched Semyon Bychkov doing #11 ... very
impressive and it featured what was probably the biggest orchestral
bell I've ever seen.
dk
2014-12-07 05:34:25 UTC
Reply
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the
Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil). Pro-Mahler
conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer,
Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos,
Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
Scherchen ;-)
Not that many, really, and of the big recognised names, only those
who had been his friends.
Has the BPO ever played Shostakovich? More than a couple of times?
The BPO actually performed the Shostakovich 7th under Celibidache in
1946, not long after WWII ended! They must not have felt very happy I
suppose! You may be able to find it on YT.

dk
g***@gmail.com
2014-12-07 09:02:53 UTC
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Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the
Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil). Pro-Mahler
conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer...
Concerning Klemperer, the following is a recent radio program about him and Mahler:

http://www.npr.org/2014/07/16/331996325/every-composer-needs-a-great-storyteller
D. Nada
2014-12-10 19:31:29 UTC
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Post by Lionel Tacchini
Not that many, really, and of the big recognised names, only those who
had been his friends.
Again, not true. In the years immediately following his death, Mahler was conducted by Fried, Nikisch, Mengelberg, Walter, Stokowski, Bodansky, Kajanus, Strauss, and Furtwangler, among others.
g***@gmail.com
2014-11-11 18:44:04 UTC
Reply
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Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Frank Berger
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
It does. It shows that they'd not been playing much Mahler between 1945
and Barbirolli's arrival in the late 1960's.
You might read your own posts, at least. As YOU YOURSELF pointed out in
an earlier post, other German orchestras had been playing and recording
Mahler from 1951.
The BPO was "behind the ball" compared with other German orchestras,
because of Fluffy's well-attested aversion to tackling Mahler. It wasn't
until 1970 that he performed 'Das Lied von der Erde' with them, and some
of the symphonies started trickling through in 1973.
Was it Barbirolli's Mahlerian success with the BPO which made Karajan
rethink the situation? I'm sure that others may have the answer to that
question.
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil).
Pro-Mahler conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer, Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos, Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
According to this Reiner bio:

- At a time when the music of...Mahler was seldom heard from American orchestras, Reiner offered Cincinnati performances of...songs with orchestra and the Second, Fourth, and Seventh symphonies.

http://books.google.com/books?id=4AMPNyaD-CkC&pg=PA33&dq=%22At+a+time+when+the+music+of+Bruckner+and+Mahler%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2ldiVIjGJsO_iAK_sIGoBw&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22At%20a%20time%20when%20the%20music%20of%20Bruckner%20and%20Mahler%22&f=false
g***@gmail.com
2015-01-14 02:57:00 UTC
Reply
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Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Frank Berger
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
It does. It shows that they'd not been playing much Mahler between 1945
and Barbirolli's arrival in the late 1960's.
You might read your own posts, at least. As YOU YOURSELF pointed out in
an earlier post, other German orchestras had been playing and recording
Mahler from 1951.
The BPO was "behind the ball" compared with other German orchestras,
because of Fluffy's well-attested aversion to tackling Mahler. It wasn't
until 1970 that he performed 'Das Lied von der Erde' with them, and some
of the symphonies started trickling through in 1973.
Was it Barbirolli's Mahlerian success with the BPO which made Karajan
rethink the situation? I'm sure that others may have the answer to that
question.
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil).
Pro-Mahler conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer, Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos, Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
- At a time when the music of...Mahler was seldom heard from American orchestras, Reiner offered Cincinnati performances of...songs with orchestra and the Second, Fourth, and Seventh symphonies.
http://books.google.com/books?id=4AMPNyaD-CkC&pg=PA33&dq=%22At+a+time+when+the+music+of+Bruckner+and+Mahler%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2ldiVIjGJsO_iAK_sIGoBw&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22At%20a%20time%20when%20the%20music%20of%20Bruckner%20and%20Mahler%22&f=false
According to Boulez, Mahler was not performed in France when B. was young:

https://books.google.com/books?id=_Es3-1X3EbQC&pg=PA24&dq=%22mahler+was+not+performed%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Gtq1VNjSMtCTyQTH9oDACw&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22mahler%20was%20not%20performed%22&f=false
Paul
2015-01-24 10:55:41 UTC
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Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by m***@fastmail.fm
Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Frank Berger
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
It does. It shows that they'd not been playing much Mahler between 1945
and Barbirolli's arrival in the late 1960's.
You might read your own posts, at least. As YOU YOURSELF pointed out in
an earlier post, other German orchestras had been playing and recording
Mahler from 1951.
The BPO was "behind the ball" compared with other German orchestras,
because of Fluffy's well-attested aversion to tackling Mahler. It wasn't
until 1970 that he performed 'Das Lied von der Erde' with them, and some
of the symphonies started trickling through in 1973.
Was it Barbirolli's Mahlerian success with the BPO which made Karajan
rethink the situation? I'm sure that others may have the answer to that
question.
Well, at least HvK did perform Das Lied von der Erde thrice in the Anniversary Year 1960 in Vienna (with the Wiener Phil).
Pro-Mahler conductors 'around the world' (before 1960) were Walter, Klemperer, Mengelberg, Moralt, Adler, Horenstein, Van Beinum, Mitropoulos, Kubelik, to name but a few. (Apologies to those I forgot.)
- At a time when the music of...Mahler was seldom heard from American orchestras, Reiner offered Cincinnati performances of...songs with orchestra and the Second, Fourth, and Seventh symphonies.
http://books.google.com/books?id=4AMPNyaD-CkC&pg=PA33&dq=%22At+a+time+when+the+music+of+Bruckner+and+Mahler%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2ldiVIjGJsO_iAK_sIGoBw&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22At%20a%20time%20when%20the%20music%20of%20Bruckner%20and%20Mahler%22&f=false
https://books.google.com/books?id=_Es3-1X3EbQC&pg=PA24&dq=%22mahler+was+not+performed%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Gtq1VNjSMtCTyQTH9oDACw&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22mahler%20was%20not%20performed%22&f=false
Coming back to Barbirolli & Mahler for a moment, wasn't the 5th Symphony issued with a few bars missing from the Scherzo? This apparently got passed both the conductor & producer, and was only corrected when it re-appeared on CD.
Frank Berger
2014-11-11 17:03:53 UTC
Reply
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Post by Christopher Webber
Post by Frank Berger
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
It does. It shows that they'd not been playing much Mahler between 1945
and Barbirolli's arrival in the late 1960's.
Didn't we, and Barbirolli, already know that?
Post by Christopher Webber
You might read your own posts,
Why on earth do you want to turn this hostile?
Post by Christopher Webber
at least. As YOU YOURSELF pointed out in
an earlier post, other German orchestras had been playing and recording
Mahler from 1951.
Actually, I'm aware of, and mentioned, a single other German orchestra.
Post by Christopher Webber
The BPO was "behind the ball" compared with other German orchestras,
because of Fluffy's well-attested aversion to tackling Mahler. It wasn't
until 1970 that he performed 'Das Lied von der Erde' with them, and some
of the symphonies started trickling through in 1973.
Was it Barbirolli's Mahlerian success with the BPO which made Karajan
rethink the situation? I'm sure that others may have the answer to that
question.
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Christopher Webber
2014-11-11 17:24:33 UTC
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Post by Frank Berger
Didn't we, and Barbirolli, already know that?
He was "surprised", because he didn't know that the BPO was behind the game.

He would have known perfectly well that Mahler wasn't performed in Nazi
Germany, if that's what you are getting at. And that's completely
irrelevant to his "surprise" in the late 1960's.

The interesting question remains, did Barbirolli's Mahlerian success
with the BPO encourage Karajan to take up this composer with his Berlin
orchestra?
Ed Romans
2014-11-11 18:22:08 UTC
Reply
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Post by Christopher Webber
The interesting question remains, did Barbirolli's Mahlerian success
with the BPO encourage Karajan to take up this composer with his Berlin
orchestra?
I would have guessed that it was more because of the general fashion of the time, and the successful record sales of other conductors, etc.

Ed
Ed Romans
2014-11-11 18:32:09 UTC
Reply
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Post by Frank Berger
Didn't we, and Barbirolli, already know that?
It's not unusual for conductors (and admirers of conductors) to slightly exaggerate the facts about teaching orchestras. For instance didn't Bernstein claim the VPO didn't know Mahler when he came along in the late 60s, which is IIRC contradicted by their performance history at the time as Norman Lebrecht showed in one of his books.

Ed
Mark K
2014-11-11 19:13:46 UTC
Reply
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Post by Ed Romans
Post by Frank Berger
Didn't we, and Barbirolli, already know that?
It's not unusual for conductors (and admirers of conductors) to slightly exaggerate the facts about teaching orchestras. For instance didn't Bernstein claim the VPO didn't know Mahler when he came along in the late 60s, which is IIRC contradicted by their performance history at the time as Norman Lebrecht showed in one of his books.
Ed
And Bernstein was profoundly embarrassed in an interview with Martin Bookspan when Bookspan pointed out that Bernstein's mentor, Serge Koussevitzky, gave the American premiere of Mahler 9. Lenny had no idea!
Terry
2014-12-07 15:06:57 UTC
Reply
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Post by Frank Berger
Post by graham
Post by Frank Berger
I'm curious about the history of Mahler performance. Barbirolli said he
was surprised that the BPO didn't play Mahler. That seems a little
naive, doesn't it? During the Nazi era, I assume (correctly?) that
Mahler was forbidden. I don't suppose the BPO played other Jewish (or
Jewish-born) composers during that time either. What about before the
Nazi era?
I think JB didn't conduct Mahler there until the 60s, well into HvK's
tenure.
Graham
Of course. But that has nothing to do with my questions, does it?
---
I reckon that most people would think that it does.
wanwan
2014-11-12 00:19:22 UTC
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Post by Oscar
Post by Oscar
From the liner notes of the original 2LP set, EMI SLS 785, from 1969: Mahler Symphony No.5 with Five Rückert Songs (Janet Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli). Opposite William Mann's incisive notes on the works.
Q. Your name, Sir John, and the name of Gustav Mahler are almost synonymous to audiences wherever you conduct. Do you feel you have been one of the pioneers of what is described as the 'Mahler Renaissance'?
J.B. Yes, I think I may well have been. Actually the original Mahler pioneer was Bruno Walter, but sometimes he lacked the proper facilities. When I came to Berlin for the first time to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was very surprised to find that these musicians had previously hardly performed any Mahler at all. I then decided to conduct Symphony No.9, which I believe is his greatest in musical substance.
It is a source of great satisfaction that in the meantime, Mahler has become one of the most popular composers in England. Even in Italy, at the Scala, Milan, in Naples and Genoa, in each of these towns, they wanted to hear a Mahler Symphony conducted by me--and they did! Just imagine--in Italy! This made me very happy.
Q. Is there a new readiness on the part of the public to listen to this music in a different way, more attentively than before?
J.B. Previously people did not have much opportunity to hear Mahler. However, it may well be a point of interest that it is ordinary people who start loving Mahler, move by his humanity. Basically it was always the musicologists who have made critical pronouncements on Mahler, on his problems of form and other aspects. At the 1968 London 'Proms' I conducted the Mahler 6. There we had an audience of 7,000 people, many of them young: the majority of those in the arena stood in silence, for over one hour twenty minutes to listen. The next day in Venice, I conducted Symphony No.4. Few in the audience had ever heard the work, but such music touches the emotions. This is the uniqueness of it, that everything comes from the expressiveness of these scores. Mahler had so much to say (it is a long time since a composer had anything essential to say) and much of what he wrote strikes one in its language as new music. I think we agree that today no really great music is written, but good musi
c, very interesting music that one should hear and know.
Post by Oscar
One of the most distinguished music critics is Sir Neville Cardus. Some ten or 12 years ago he came to see me and said 'John, my boy, you do not know it, but this music was written for you.' So I began to study Mahler symphonies--if you want to conduct Mahler well his music must be under your skin and in your bones. Because I subsequently spent two years studying one of these scores, I have, as it were, enriched myself in doing so, and it is a joy to me in my advancing years that I have found something which, apart from the connoisseurs, is new to people and is also of such mighty dimensions. Mahler's name is no longer a mystery--he has at long last become a monument.
Q. What do you regard as the specific details of Mahler interpretation?
J.B. There were people who laughed at me when I told them that I spent two years studying a Mahler symphony. Of course it does not take me two years to read these scores, but if you prepare for a journey through such immeasurably wide musical spaces, you must know exactly where the musical ideas begin and where they end, and how each fits into the pattern of the whole. In Mahler's symphonies there are many highlights but only one real climax, which one must discover. To do so needs less a simple study of the score than an all-embracing aesthetic reflection--which, incidentally, was also peculiar to Bruno Walter.
--Based on interview given by Sir John Baribirolli to the magazine 'Die Welt'.
I'm curious about the history of Mahler performance. Barbirolli said he
was surprised that the BPO didn't play Mahler. That seems a little
naive, doesn't it? During the Nazi era, I assume (correctly?) that
Mahler was forbidden. I don't suppose the BPO played other Jewish (or
Jewish-born) composers during that time either. What about before the
Nazi era? Based on the Jewish artists that we know left Germany (or,
sadly, weren't able to) we know they had success there before the Nazis
came to power. What about Mahler? I have some recordings of Mahler
vocal music by the Berlin State Opera Orchestra from the late 20s and
early 30s, and a symphony #2 from the same orchestra from 1924 by Oscar
Fried. But not a single other Mahler recording out of Germany until
1951. Comments?
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Frank,

Until the Nazi's banned Jewish composers music, Mahler was performed in Germany much more than one would suspect.

Furtwangler himself did 1,3,4, Das Lied, and orchestral Lieder prior to the Nazi's taking over.

See the following from the Mahler List Archives. There is more, but I haven't had time to look further.

http://listserv.uh.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0312E&L=MAHLER-LIST&P=R3030&I=-3&m=38939

----------------
Eric
Frank Berger
2014-11-12 00:21:40 UTC
Reply
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Post by wanwan
Post by Oscar
Post by Oscar
From the liner notes of the original 2LP set, EMI SLS 785, from 1969: Mahler Symphony No.5 with Five Rückert Songs (Janet Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli). Opposite William Mann's incisive notes on the works.
Q. Your name, Sir John, and the name of Gustav Mahler are almost synonymous to audiences wherever you conduct. Do you feel you have been one of the pioneers of what is described as the 'Mahler Renaissance'?
J.B. Yes, I think I may well have been. Actually the original Mahler pioneer was Bruno Walter, but sometimes he lacked the proper facilities. When I came to Berlin for the first time to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was very surprised to find that these musicians had previously hardly performed any Mahler at all. I then decided to conduct Symphony No.9, which I believe is his greatest in musical substance.
It is a source of great satisfaction that in the meantime, Mahler has become one of the most popular composers in England. Even in Italy, at the Scala, Milan, in Naples and Genoa, in each of these towns, they wanted to hear a Mahler Symphony conducted by me--and they did! Just imagine--in Italy! This made me very happy.
Q. Is there a new readiness on the part of the public to listen to this music in a different way, more attentively than before?
J.B. Previously people did not have much opportunity to hear Mahler. However, it may well be a point of interest that it is ordinary people who start loving Mahler, move by his humanity. Basically it was always the musicologists who have made critical pronouncements on Mahler, on his problems of form and other aspects. At the 1968 London 'Proms' I conducted the Mahler 6. There we had an audience of 7,000 people, many of them young: the majority of those in the arena stood in silence, for over one hour twenty minutes to listen. The next day in Venice, I conducted Symphony No.4. Few in the audience had ever heard the work, but such music touches the emotions. This is the uniqueness of it, that everything comes from the expressiveness of these scores. Mahler had so much to say (it is a long time since a composer had anything essential to say) and much of what he wrote strikes one in its language as new music. I think we agree that today no really great music is written, but good mu
si
Post by wanwan
Post by Oscar
c, very interesting music that one should hear and know.
Post by Oscar
One of the most distinguished music critics is Sir Neville Cardus. Some ten or 12 years ago he came to see me and said 'John, my boy, you do not know it, but this music was written for you.' So I began to study Mahler symphonies--if you want to conduct Mahler well his music must be under your skin and in your bones. Because I subsequently spent two years studying one of these scores, I have, as it were, enriched myself in doing so, and it is a joy to me in my advancing years that I have found something which, apart from the connoisseurs, is new to people and is also of such mighty dimensions. Mahler's name is no longer a mystery--he has at long last become a monument.
Q. What do you regard as the specific details of Mahler interpretation?
J.B. There were people who laughed at me when I told them that I spent two years studying a Mahler symphony. Of course it does not take me two years to read these scores, but if you prepare for a journey through such immeasurably wide musical spaces, you must know exactly where the musical ideas begin and where they end, and how each fits into the pattern of the whole. In Mahler's symphonies there are many highlights but only one real climax, which one must discover. To do so needs less a simple study of the score than an all-embracing aesthetic reflection--which, incidentally, was also peculiar to Bruno Walter.
--Based on interview given by Sir John Baribirolli to the magazine 'Die Welt'.
I'm curious about the history of Mahler performance. Barbirolli said he
was surprised that the BPO didn't play Mahler. That seems a little
naive, doesn't it? During the Nazi era, I assume (correctly?) that
Mahler was forbidden. I don't suppose the BPO played other Jewish (or
Jewish-born) composers during that time either. What about before the
Nazi era? Based on the Jewish artists that we know left Germany (or,
sadly, weren't able to) we know they had success there before the Nazis
came to power. What about Mahler? I have some recordings of Mahler
vocal music by the Berlin State Opera Orchestra from the late 20s and
early 30s, and a symphony #2 from the same orchestra from 1924 by Oscar
Fried. But not a single other Mahler recording out of Germany until
1951. Comments?
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Frank,
Until the Nazi's banned Jewish composers music, Mahler was performed in Germany much more than one would suspect.
Furtwangler himself did 1,3,4, Das Lied, and orchestral Lieder prior to the Nazi's taking over.
See the following from the Mahler List Archives. There is more, but I haven't had time to look further.
http://listserv.uh.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0312E&L=MAHLER-LIST&P=R3030&I=-3&m=38939
----------------
Eric
Thank you. That was main question. You are the first to have answered it.

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Post by Oscar
From the liner notes of the original 2LP set, EMI SLS 785, from 1969: Mahler Symphony No.5 with Five Rückert Songs (Janet Baker, New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli). Opposite William Mann's incisive notes on the works.
Q. Your name, Sir John, and the name of Gustav Mahler are almost synonymous to audiences wherever you conduct. Do you feel you have been one of the pioneers of what is described as the 'Mahler Renaissance'?
J.B. Yes, I think I may well have been. Actually the original Mahler pioneer was Bruno Walter, but sometimes he lacked the proper facilities. When I came to Berlin for the first time to conduct the Philharmonic Orchestra, I was very surprised to find that these musicians had previously hardly performed any Mahler at all. I then decided to conduct Symphony No.9, which I believe is his greatest in musical substance.
It is a source of great satisfaction that in the meantime, Mahler has become one of the most popular composers in England. Even in Italy, at the Scala, Milan, in Naples and Genoa, in each of these towns, they wanted to hear a Mahler Symphony conducted by me--and they did! Just imagine--in Italy! This made me very happy.
Q. Is there a new readiness on the part of the public to listen to this music in a different way, more attentively than before?
J.B. Previously people did not have much opportunity to hear Mahler. However, it may well be a point of interest that it is ordinary people who start loving Mahler, move by his humanity. Basically it was always the musicologists who have made critical pronouncements on Mahler, on his problems of form and other aspects. At the 1968 London 'Proms' I conducted the Mahler 6. There we had an audience of 7,000 people, many of them young: the majority of those in the arena stood in silence, for over one hour twenty minutes to listen. The next day in Venice, I conducted Symphony No.4. Few in the audience had ever heard the work, but such music touches the emotions. This is the uniqueness of it, that everything comes from the expressiveness of these scores. Mahler had so much to say (it is a long time since a composer had anything essential to say) and much of what he wrote strikes one in its language as new music. I think we agree that today no really great music is written, but good music, very interesting music that one should hear and know.
One of the most distinguished music critics is Sir Neville Cardus. Some ten or 12 years ago he came to see me and said 'John, my boy, you do not know it, but this music was written for you.' So I began to study Mahler symphonies--if you want to conduct Mahler well his music must be under your skin and in your bones. Because I subsequently spent two years studying one of these scores, I have, as it were, enriched myself in doing so, and it is a joy to me in my advancing years that I have found something which, apart from the connoisseurs, is new to people and is also of such mighty dimensions. Mahler's name is no longer a mystery--he has at long last become a monument.
Q. What do you regard as the specific details of Mahler interpretation?
J.B. There were people who laughed at me when I told them that I spent two years studying a Mahler symphony. Of course it does not take me two years to read these scores, but if you prepare for a journey through such immeasurably wide musical spaces, you must know exactly where the musical ideas begin and where they end, and how each fits into the pattern of the whole. In Mahler's symphonies there are many highlights but only one real climax, which one must discover. To do so needs less a simple study of the score than an all-embracing aesthetic reflection--which, incidentally, was also peculiar to Bruno Walter.
--Based on interview given by Sir John Baribirolli to the magazine 'Die Welt'.
(Y. upload):

Review: Bulldog Barbirolli's Mahler Boxed

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