A little R+R after RARW?

If Bob Dylan is by now enjoying a much-deserved break from his hectic work schedule (if that is possible) after the success of Rough and Rowdy Ways, he might like to take in the tumultuous and campy 80’s movie– Mahler — by Ken Russell.

Gustav Mahler was, in his day, not only the last of the great Romantic composers, but also perhaps the most controversial composer of his time.  His symphonies used ‘too many players’, were hard to listen to, and were too long. Mahler was also a conductor of great note, also with controversy in Vienna, becoming the first true international sensation. He transited from Vienna to New York during the last years of his life, and was one of the first to conduct what is now the New York Philharmonic — in the newly-built Carnegie Hall, no less.

Last, but not least, Mahler came to be called the “Prophet of Doom”, because his symphonies and lieder seemed to foretell the destruction of life as everyone in Vienna knew it, and to anticipate the coming of World Wars I and even the horrific loss of Jewish lives in the Holocaust of WWII. Mahler was born a Jew, and even though he converted to Catholicism in order to pander to Richard Wagner’s widow, Cosima (it didn’t work) the wonderful heritage of his birth faith plays out in all of the angst and ecstacy of his music.

In further irony, Adolf Hitler and Gustav Mahler were in the same room when Mahler conducted Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in Vienna on May 8, 1906.

Acclaimed music critic Alex Ross mentions this in a blog post: https://www.therestisnoise.com/2012/02/hitlers-favorites.html

You might find May 8 of interest to you, Mr. Dylan, because that is the day you dropped Rough and Rowdy Ways.

It also happens to be my birthday.

Mahler’s widow, Alma, lived in New York City until her death in 1964.

Should you, like so many of us who happen to have an incurable case of Mahleria, want to know more about Gustav Mahler, here is a fascinating virtual study of Mahler in New York courtesy of the NYPhil…


And, should you be in the mood for a profound interpretation of the Mahler 6, “Tragic” symphony, may I suggest Simone Young…

Young leads Philharmonic in a wrenching, inevitable Mahler Sixth

On Youtube:

Mahler’s 6th Symphony premiered on May 27, 1906, in Essen, Germany. Ironically, just days after Mahler and Hitler were in the same room. Mahler’s life changed dramatically from that time on — from the death of his young daughter, “Gucki”, to his ouster from Vienna, and then, of course, his own heart issues and subsequent tragic death from an incurable infection in May of 1911…


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