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Starts at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink
In May 1911, the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler died, leaving two completed but unperformed works: the symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) and the Ninth Symphony. Both of these works were given their first performances by Mahler's close friend and protégé, the conductor Bruno Walter. Mahler was rather superstitious about writing a 'Ninth' symphony, fearing that, like Beethoven and Bruckner before him, it would be his last. By entitling his previous work Das Lied von der Erde - a symphony in all but name - he felt he had somehow cheated the system, but the reticence remained. However, by early October, 1910 at the latest, he was able to write to Oskar Fried that: ‘Meine 9. ist fertig’ (My Ninth is finished).
Mahler wrote the Ninth at his summer retreat, Toblach in June, 1909. The location of this house, in terms of the views and mountain walks available, must have been superb but Mahler complained constantly in letters to his wife about the noise from the family, their friends, children and dog, and the cheeses they kept in the basement.
For the first month Mahler was there, the weather was terrible. It was certainly too cold to work in the little composing hut (häuschen) he had had built, so he kept to the main house. But once he was able to use the häuschen, work on the symphony proceeded rapidly - so rapidly that, by Mahler's own admission to Walter, 'The score is quite mangled, and probably altogether illegible to unfamiliar eyes.' It was completed - at least as far as a draft orchestral score - in that single summer. Further work on the symphony's orchestration was done over the winter of 1909-10, and a fair copy score completed in New York in March 1910.
This concert was recorded by German Radio, Munich in the Philharmonie, Munich
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