Gustav Mahler

It’s been said that Edwin Fleisher did not like vocal or choral music. Whether a few people have told me this, or one person told me a few times, I can’t recall, but it explained why, while there’s a wealth of orchestral music with voices, none of it made its way during Fleisher’s life into the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia. There are two problems with the story.

There’s that video that’s made the rounds on YouTube for years—Leonard Bernstein not conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in the Finale of the Haydn Symphony No. 88. Right, not conducting: It’s an encore, and as the applause dies away, he starts the music, then drops his hands to his side.

Hans van der Woerd

Hello Radio Friends! If you were unable to get a ticket for any of the sold-out Philadelphia Orchestra performances this past weekend of Mahler's Third Symphony, or to hear our live broadcast of yesterday's final concert, I strongly encourage you to listen to the re-broadcast tonight at 7 pm on WRTI HD-2, on the fabulous WRTI Mobile App, or our classical web stream at wrti.org.

This Sunday's re-broadcast on WRTI features Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium for the final concert of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2015-16 season. He's joined by a Philadelphia favorite, the incomparable Lang Lang, performing the music of someone else whose career had close ties to Philadelphia, Sergei Rachmaninoff.

It was on the 2nd of March, 100 years ago, that The Philadelphia Orchestra was, in effect, introduced to the world. The stage of the Academy of Music had to be extended, at considerable expense, to accommodate the enormous vocal and orchestral forces for the first United States performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, the so-called “Symphony of a Thousand.”

What became known as the "Resurrection" Symphony, Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 is one of the longest, most ambitious, and profoundly moving orchestral works ever composed; its unusual impact and philosophical import have been recognized ever since Mahler conducted the premiere in Berlin in 1895.

The composer Gustav Mahler once said, “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” If that is so, then Mahler’s second symphony, the “Resurrection,” is bigger, even, than that. 

Mahler had already tackled big questions in an orchestral work, called Funeral Rites. He played it on the piano for Hans von Bülow, and the conductor said that it made Wagner's Tristan und Isolde sound like Haydn. Mahler turned Funeral Rites into the first movement of his Resurrection symphony.

Bach Old and New

Oct 2, 2014

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, Oct. 4th, 5 to 6 pm. Every generation comes up with new ways to perform Johann Sebastian Bach. This tells us two things. One: Performance practice is as vital and relevant as ever. Rather than imagining forgotten professors paging through dusty tomes, we might envision performers kicking up dust with brilliant concerts of so-old-it’s-new repertoire.

On this Sunday’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast, Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts works by Britten and Strauss, along with Mahler's Symphony No. 4. As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, the German soprano in the Mahler work is singing a piece that is revered in her homeland.

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