In a weekend piece today in the Wall Street Journal, I show how Gustav Mahler created the subscription series, thematic programming and orchestral touring – all fixtures of musical life in the United States to the present day. Ahead of his time? Very much a man of ours, I would say.
Visiting several of the cities that Mahler toured, I found a
mixed legacy of hope and decay. In Syracuse, the orchestra cancelled a concert
of Mahler’s fifth symphony for want of funds, but a music lover, Hamilton
Armstrong, erected a memorial on the site where Mahler conducted and a radio
producer, Marie Lamb, passes by every day to sweep off the snow. In Buffalo, conductor
Jo-Ann Falleta launched the Mahler centennial with a Resurrection concert.
Pittsburgh is doing a Mahler heritage weekend in May.
It would have been fitting had the New York Philharmonic
given a repeat on February 21, 2011 of the last concert of Mahler’s life, but
that opportunity went begging. It is the Israel Philharmonic, under Riccardo
Muti, that took up the program this week (Jan 17, 19) in Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem, a distant salute. New York, in Mahler’s day as in ours, does not go in much for musical sentiment.
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