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Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Gustav Mahler. Today, love is all around, but, for Mahler’s wife Alma, it comes at a heavy price.

Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Gustav Mahler. Today, love is all around – but for Mahler’s wife Alma, it comes at a heavy price.

Love is a potent force in Mahler’s creative armoury, from the unrequited passion for the soprano Johanna Richter that provided the impulse behind his despairing Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, to the fully requited passion for Alma Schindler that surfaces again and again throughout his work. When Mahler proposed to Alma barely three weeks after their first encounter in November 1901, his friends saw trouble ahead. He was, after all, nearly 20 years her senior – a man at the top of his profession, while she was barely yet a grown-up. Then there was the huge gulf between their personalities and lifestyles – he, work-obsessed and unworldly, she, in the words of Bruno Walter, Mahler’s assistant at the Vienna Opera and later his tireless advocate, “a celebrated beauty, used to a brilliant social life”. But more than any of that, Mahler’s love came with strings attached: he insisted that if they were to marry, she must give up her own aspirations as a composer and focus herself entirely on his needs. All considered, what could possibly go wrong?

Liebst du um Schönheit
Christian Gerhaher, baritone
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Kent Nagano, conductor

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (No 4, ‘Die zwei blauen Augen’)
Katarina Karnéus, mezzo soprano
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Susanna Mälkki, conductor

Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen
Dietrich Henschel, baritone
Orchestre des Champs-Elysées
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor

Symphony No 5 (4th mvt, Adagietto)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Giuseppe Sinopoli, conductor

Symphony No 6 (1st movement, Allegro energico, ma non troppo)
Berlin Philharmonic
Claudio Abbado, conductor

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

19 hours left to listen

59 minutes

Last on

Mon 23 Sep 2019 12:00

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Music Played

  • Gustav Mahler

    Liebst du um Schönheit (Ruckert-Lieder)

    Performer: Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Singer: Christian Gerhaher. Conductor: Kent Nagano.
    • SONY CLASSICAL : 88883701332.
    • SONY CLASSICAL.
    • 13.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Die zwei blauen Augen (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen)

    Singer: Katarina Karnéus. Orchestra: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Susanna Mälkki.
    • BIS 1600.
    • BIS.
    • 9.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)

    Singer: Dietrich Henschel. Orchestra: Orchestre des Champs‐Élysées. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI HMX 2908854.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 6.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor (4th movement)

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Giuseppe Sinopoli.
    • DG 415 476-2.
    • DG.
    • 4.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No 6 in A minor (1st movement)

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.
    • DG 477 5684.
    • DG.
    • 1.

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