Friday, 9 July 2010

Zusammen mit Gustav Mahler

I have spent the last two weeks in splendid isolation, with family, working primarely on Mahler and his songs.

I was introduced to Gustav Mahler early on, learning the part of Mahler's 8th Symphony together with the Toelzer Knabenchor having just turned eight. With nine years I performed the symphony in the Royal Albert Hall as part of the proms, and it felt like I was part of a gigantic musical universe that had come together to cry out to the heavens. Eversince I felt uneasy about this man, who's music felt so riven.

This week, Mahler would have celebrated his 150th birthday. And I feel, to listen to his music now, is to understand so much about our age, whos innovation and progress came at so much cost. Percy Adlon has made a wonderful film about Mahler's final year, when he had reached universal acclaim, but was never fully understood, and lost the love of his life in the wake of the dawn of a new century. Without doubt, much of Mahler's Music was influenced heavily by Alma. The adagietto of his 5th Symphony is dedicated to her.

I believe Mahler was one of a handful of people who knew that their time was that of a crossroad to a new age, and who went first, and on their own, to mark their future. Sitting midst our beautiful rose garden, I study Mahler's music in peace and quiet, and sometimes it is as if he is sitting next to me.