Rising in the morning

I awoke this morning to an overwhelming swell of orchestra and chorus, in what I recognized immediately as the very ending (in the 5th movement) of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, the Resurrection Symphony (performed by Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Symphony and Chorus). Time to arise!

You can watch, here, a performance by Leonard Bernstein and the London Philharmonic of the last bit of the 5th movement. A still of Lenny’s berserker conducting:

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(I saw Bernstein conducting the LPO in this symphony back in the fall of 1977. Oh my, 39 years ago. Quite an experience.)

On the symphony, from Wikipedia:

The Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler, known as the Resurrection Symphony, was written between 1888 and 1894, and first performed in 1895. Apart from the Eighth Symphony, this symphony was Mahler’s most popular and successful work during his lifetime. It was his first major work that established his lifelong view of the beauty of afterlife and resurrection. In this large work, the composer further developed the creativity of “sound of the distance” and creating a “world of its own”, aspects already seen in his First Symphony. The work has a duration of around eighty to ninety minutes and is conventionally labelled as being in the key of C minor; the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians labels the work’s tonality as C minor–E-flat major.

… Mahler wrote of [the fifth] movement: “The increasing tension, working up to the final climax, is so tremendous that I don’t know myself, now that it is over, how I ever came to write it.”

Significant pieces of Mahler’s wonderful Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn — and, yes, the title is at least as suggestive in German as it is in English) are incorporated into this symphony (and other pieces in other of Mahler’s works). From Wikipedia:

The settings of Des Knaben Wunderhorn by Gustav Mahler are orchestral songs and voice and piano settings of poems from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (‘The Youth’s Magic Horn’) a collection of anonymous German folk poems assembled by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano and published by them, in heavily redacted form, between 1805 and 1808. 10 songs set for soprano or baritone and orchestra were first published by Mahler as a cycle in 1905. but in total 12 orchestral songs exist, and a similar number of songs for voice and piano.

Two frivolous bonuses.

Bonus 1, the association to Tom Lehrer’s song “Alma”, about Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel (posting on this blog here).

Bonus 2, Lenny Bernstein as a gorgeous young man, fully aware of his physical appeal. Many photos, including this shirtless one (in the green room at Carnegie Hall in 1951, with his sister Shirley):

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(Bernstein’s friends generally agreed that he was simply gay, and entirely comfortable with his sexuality. He also married and had children. Lives are often complex.)

One Response to “Rising in the morning”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Julian Lander on Facebiook:

    Relevant to Tom Lehrer’s song about Alma Mahler: the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston owns, and has on display, Oskar Kokoschka’s Two Nudes (Lovers). It is a portrait of him and Alma Mahler, reflecting the breakup of their affair. I have trouble restraining myself from breaking into song whenever I pass it in the gallery. There is an image on the MFA web site at

    http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/two-nudes-lovers-34173.

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