This one goes out to my Grammy… or GG, as she is now called (Great Grandma). Today is her actual birthday… and today she is actually 100!
It is truly amazing, especially given all the things she has endured… but she is smart and sweet and loving and keeps going! I would love to hit 100, but more importantly, I want to be as kind and as good a person as she is. I have a way to go… but hopefully I’ll have all that time to get there!
Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic – Mahler: Symphony No. 9 in D Major
So this actual piece was created between 1909 and 1910, but it did not debut until 1912… “The work was premiered on June 26, 1912, at the Vienna Festival by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter.”
“Mahler died in May 1911, without ever having heard his Ninth Symphony performed. The work’s ending is usually interpreted as being a self-conscious farewell to the world, as it was composed following the death of his beloved daughter Maria Anna in 1907 and the diagnosis of his fatal heart disease. However, this notion is disputed inasmuch as Mahler felt that he was in good health at the time of the composition of the 9th Symphony; he had, had a very successful season (1909-1910) as the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and, before that, the Metropolitan Opera (New York). In his last letters, Mahler indicated he looked forward to an extensive tour with the orchestra for the 1910-1911 season. Moreover, Mahler worked on his unfinished Tenth Symphony until his death from endocarditis in May 1911.”
This is what is so cool about doing this blog… I learn something new almost every day. I did not know that Mahler conducted the NY Philharmonic, at least I don’t think I did. It is, of course, possible that I knew it and forgot. That is sad… I really need to keep working out my brain. Yikes!
Anyway, it now makes the connection between Leonard Bernstein and Mahler make a lot more sense to me.
The way I came to Mahler was through Stephen Sondheim… In his brilliant song “Ladies Who Lunch” from the amazing musical Company, he writes:
“Another long exhausting day,
Another thousand dollars,
A matinée, a Pinter play,
Perhaps a piece of Mahler’s.
I’ll drink to that.
And one for Mahler!”
So naturally, I wanted to listen to Mahler… Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Sondheim… Well, for so much more than that, but the reward has been immense and Mahler became one of my favorite composers.
The more I got into classical music, the more fascinated I was with the debates over “definitive” versions… which orchestra and especially which conductor did who best… It can be cut throat… and reading reviews of classical music on Amazon and Arkiv Music is crazy!
I happen to love all of Leonard Bernstein’s conducting efforts, but to be honest, I cannot tell you the subtleties and nuances and how accurate or precise his interpretation is. I know there is controversy… I know there are debates, but I also know this is one stunning piece of music… Moving beyond words and argument, no matter who is doing it.
And yes I can understand that certain folks and critics will prefer one version or orchestra or conductor over the other… absolutely…
For me, I picked this music because I loved it… and it premiered the same year my dear, wonderful, sweet, kind and loving Grandmother did.
So as I listen to this, I think of you and all the wonderful memories we have shared. May you live as long as you feel healthy and happy. May you have joy and love and bliss. May you always know you have the sincere and deep love of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as friends.
You are an inspiration… and a wonder! I love you!