How to do it

The Boston Philharmonic — thanks to its amazing conductor, Benjamin Zander — has almost a cult following. I haven’t heard them live, but their CDs suggest a depth of committment, almost a deeper level of truth, than we usually hear.

And they certainly know how to write about music. Here, from their website, is a description of a program they’re playing on April 29, May 1, and May 2. I’ve been complaining about how badly the classical music world talks about its art. This shows a better way:


Of all Mahler’s works, it may well be the astonishingly “modern” Seventh Symphony that most fully expresses the mayhem of living in the contemporary world. It lays out the conflicts and contrasts, then offers a kind of alternative refuge—dream-like, entrancing “night music.” In the end, though, it is in this world, not some remote afterlife, that this symphony finds its true victory. It seems to say: “This is life. It’s rough—but I am going to look it square in the face, and win.” To conclude the program and this season of Mahler, the other possible outcome is presented: the sublime song “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” Mahler’s most ineffable song of leave-taking, of withdrawal from the conflicts of the world into his own exalted domain of Love and Song.


Note that this isn’t just a description of some music. It’s a statement of artistic intent. They’re not just describing the symphony; they’re saying why they’re performing it, and what their performance is meant to say.


If only everybody did that!

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