Thursday, 22 July 2010

Why Mahler?

I was at Waterstone's the other day killing some time before meeting with friends when I came across this book:

I've performed one Mahler piece in my entire lifetime. It was the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5. It's his probably his most famous, if not most recognizable work.

When I played it under the formidable and hilarious Paul McCulloch back in high school, I distinctly remember him telling us that we couldn't play the piece properly until we had experienced war, famine, death, despair.* Needless to say, I'm sure most of us spoiled private school brats had no idea how to play Mahler, but we managed to limp through that performance without embarrassing ourselves too badly.

Lebrecht speaks of Mahler's ability to ease the pain of death and heal emotional wounds. He speaks of Mahler's symphonies being played on the death bed and world leaders altering their self-perception upon witnessing his performances. He says that Mahler is the soundtrack to our lives.

To be honest, it sounds a bit far-fetched to me. But then again, what do I know? I'm just a girl who has a playlist on her iPod titled 'soundtrack to my life' that's littered with Metric, Muse and now a litte Mahler.

* Paul, apologies if I've completely misquoted you :) But you're definitely formidable and hilarious, even when you were calling us meatball heads and stopping us mid-performance because we all lost our places

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