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Gustav Mahler

Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Gustav Mahler through five key themes.

Donald Macleod explores the music and life of Gustav Mahler through five key themes.

This week’s episode begins with an exploration of love - a potent force in Mahler’s creative armoury, but, for Mahler’s wife Alma, it came at a heavy price. Mahler was also obsessed with human mortality, but that became all too real with the tragic death of his daughter Maria. We’ll also hear about the composer’s ambivalent relationship to religion. Despite his lack of adherence to a particular creed, Mahler’s work is shot through with a genuine religious sense. Next, Donald discusses the vein of tart humour in Mahler’s music, from the gently sardonic to the out-and-out grotesque. Finally Donald tells how Mahler’s profound love of the natural world seeped into almost everything he wrote.

Music featured:
Liebst du um Schönheit
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (No 4, ‘Die zwei blauen Augen’)
Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen
Symphony No 5 (4th mvt, Adagietto)
Symphony No 6 (1st movement, Allegro energico, ma non troppo)
Rückert-Lieder (Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen)
Symphony No 4 (2nd movement, In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast)
Kindertotenlieder (Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n)
Symphony No 6 (4th movement, Finale. Allegro moderato – Allegro energico)
Symphony No 8 (Part 1, extract – ‘Veni creator spiritus')
Symphony No 4 (4th movement, Sehr behaglich)
Symphony No 10 (3rd movement, Purgatorio – Unheimlich bewegt)
Symphony No 2 (‘Resurrection’) (5th movement, Finale)
Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt)
Symphony No 1 in D (‘Titan’) (3rd movement, Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen)
Symphony No 2 (3rd movement, In ruhig fliessender Bewegung)
Symphony No 7 (3rd movement, Scherzo: Schatternhaft)
Symphony No 9 (3rd movement, Rondo-Burleske)
Lieder und gesänge aus Jugendzeit (Ablösung im Sommer)
Symphony No 3 (3rd movement, Comodo)
Das Lied von der Erde (6. Der Abschied)

Presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Gustav Mahler

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here:

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55 minutes