Memories of Mahler

The last of the great middle European giants of the symphony was Gustav Mahler, a Bohemian Jew who lived most of his life in Vienna. Like Richard Wagner, whom he worshipped musically, Mahler was a complicated introvert. He made his living by conducting other men's operas. His own, seldom-played, gargantuan (90-minute) scores are full of funeral marches, Dante-like infernos and heavenly serenities.

Mahler's musical pageants were not easy either for players or listeners. Though they sometimes required large choruses and offstage sound effects, no one but Mahler was ever quite sure what was...

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