That feeling of emotion tingling down your spine in intense waves is really why Mahler’s music draws such intense enthusiasts. But the symphonies are long and complex. They need context. I’ve crafted a unique journey into five of Mahler’s symphonies through a composer’s ear. I help you follow Mahler’s imaginative structures, his masterful orchestration, and his frequent references to other music (his own and other composers). I try to use simple language with copious musical examples I play on piano or with recordings. The series includes over 12 hours of audio plus PDF summary notes for each lecture and texts from the Mahler songs that inspired particular symphonies. Listen in your car, at the gym, wherever, and then listen to your own favorite recordings of Mahler symphonies. I’m certain you will be delighted with how much more deeply you can now hear the music.
This series explores Symphonies 1, 2, 4, 6, and 9.
Gustav Mahler’s symphonies are among the most intoxicating and even addictive experiences in all classical music listening. Part of their emotional impact comes from the fact that they bridge the 19th and 20th centuries. They look backward with a sense of culmination and nostalgia for the Romantic era, but also look forward to the new sonic and structural implications of the modern era. But there is far to them than the time they were written. Mahler discovered a way to take the immersive world of characters, symbols, and emotions in a Wagner opera and place it within the abstract sonic tapestry of the symphony orchestra.
In eight lectures, we explore four of Mahler's symphonies from his early, middle, and late periods using piano examples, recordings, and your participation and discussion. We will follow Mahler’s compositional ideas and his ingenious use of the symphony orchestra, beginning with the first and second symphonies with their heroic narratives, then on to the mystical fourth symphony, the tragic sixth symphony, and great sublime farewell of the ninth symphony that seems to usher in our modern age. Curiosity and enthusiasm is a must, but previous knowledge of music is not necessary to enjoy these evenings.
Lecture 5—Mahler Symphony No. 6
Darkness—Premonitions and the Fall of the Hammer
Lecture 6—Mahler Symphony No. 6
Mahler's "Tragic" Symphony
Lecture 7—Mahler Symphony No. 9
The Sigh of the World and the Sublime Final Adagio
Lecture 8—Mahler Symphony No. 9
It is terrifying, and paralyzing, as the strands of sound
disintegrate ... in ceasing, we lose it all. But in letting go,
we have gained everything.
Lecture 1—Mahler Symphony No. 1
Dilemma—Program or Absolute Music?
Worlds of reference
Fusing Schubert and Wagner
Lecture 2—Mahler Symphony No. 2
Funeral Rites and Resurrection
Lecture 3—Mahler Symphony No. 2
A Song For All Humanity Answering Beethoven's 9th
Both Art Song and Choir in the Symphony
Lecture 4—Mahler Symphony No. 4
"The Heavenly Life"
Backwards to Haydn and Sublime Structure
Hear a short audio lecture excerpt discussing the scherzo in Mahler’s 4th Symphony