A Wagner Mahler Monday

In an afternoon on a post-Christmas day, it is so nice to just sit at home. The weather is not too hot and not too cold. Just perfect with some wind gently sending the leaves and the norens dancing in a very graceful way. The neighbourhood is quiet, with an occasional “twang” from some avid golfers teeing off in the golf course nearby. Add to that symphony, some birds chirping happily around the trees. Chirping, mind you. Not winding spring thank you very much.

It has been some time now that I have been to any performances by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) and it is such an excitement waiting for the performance of “Das Lied von der Erde” this coming March. This is one of my very favourite Mahler pieces, but then again, all of Mahler’s pieces are favourites of mine, just that I tend to like his later symphonies more. Mahler’s 9th symphony is such a great work, I still seem to funnily find some tears welling up everytime I listen to it seriously.

On looking at the booklet of programmes for the 05/06 season, it is sad to note that not even one piece by Wagner was programmed. Of course I am not asking them to programme an opera but at least some overtures from his great operas will do the great master some justice. No? Why this has happened, I could not understand. Perhaps the programming people at the MPO do not like Wagner.

On thinking of Mahler and Wagner, I can’t help but think of the great surge of geniuses during the era and the spin-offs from these people. Norman Lebrect’s “Mahler Remembered”, noted the following people, among many others, in the Chronology of Contemporary Events which was put side by side the Chronology of Mahler’s life and work:

Wagner completing “Tristan and Isolde”, Tolstoy completing “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”, Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone, Mark Twain completing “Tom Sawyer”, Dostoevsky publishing “The Brothers Karamazov”, Nietzsche publishing “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, Freud publishing “The Interpretation of Dreams”, Richard Strauss completing “Salome”, Schoenberg completing “Pelleas et Melisande”, Einstien publishing his first theory of relativity, the Wright Brothers flying their aeroplane, Picasso painting the “portrait of Gertrude Stein”, Henry Ford produces the first Model T, Marcel Proust begins “A la recherche du temps perdu”, Stravinsky completing “The Firebird”, etc.

It was an era of great literary and scientific breakthrough in the West and solidifies the West’s dominion of the world. Come to think of it now on this quiet and windy Monday morning, Mahler’s lifetime is truly an amazing period in the history of our World.

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Filed under Gustav Mahler, Music

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