One of my favorite Mahler pieces, and clearly one of his most famous, is Mahler’s 9th Symphony. The piece has gained much notoriety over the years not only as an incredible work of music, but as Mahler’s last completed symphony. Written between 1908 and 1909, Mahler’s 9th is regarded by many as his greatest achievement. The piece is beautifully and masterfully constructed over four movements using woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings. The movements breakdown as follows:
I. Adante comodo
II. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers. Etwas täppisch und sehr derb
III. Rondo-Burleske: Allegro assai. Sehr trotzig
IV. Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend
Prior to writing his 9th symphony, Gustav Mahler dealt with the difficult loss of his daughter, Putzi. Following her death, Mahler chose to resign as director of the Vienna Court Opera. It was also during this time that a lesion was found in one of his heart valves during a routine check up. This time period was undoubtedly extremely difficult for Mahler, forcing him to take a brief hiatus from his creative outlet. Despite the struggles, Mahler returned with a new appreciation for life and successfully completed his final symphony.
The significance of Mahler’s Ninth is often debated. Is it a morbid welcoming to the death that lied before him, or is it a representation of his time alive? As the piece dissolves into a slower, quieter sound, it is easy to fall in line with the belief held by many conductors and listeners that the piece represents a series of deaths. Whatever you believe, the piece will always be open to interpretation as a listener.
I have had a lifelong love affair with Gustav Mahler. His 9th symphony, especially the last movement, has always been my personal favorite. Mahler is an extraordinary talent – his gentle, long appoggiaturas and bursts of (what was called) loud, and gorgeous noise!! It makes my heart bleed. I was singing through his Des Knaben Wunderhorn last week. I am always amazed by his brilliance and genius. Die Shonen Trompeten is my personal favorite. The middle section “Willkommen lieber knabe mein, so lang…” ahhhh! So stunning it is hard to sing and not cry!!
Gustav Mahler performed by Sophie Von Otter
Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 9 in D: IV
Roza Eskenazi is one of the best smyrnaika singers who ever lived. She developed a pure melismatic style of singing – Turkish “amane” style. Rita Abatzi is more rough and expressive, while Rosa is pure and lilting. The way she sings “kanarini” is stunning.
In her interview with ABC’s Nightline, Anita Rogers of British American Household Staffing discusses the importance of discretion when hiring a nanny.