American Conductor Introduces Works by Gustav Mahler
The 66th annual Prague Spring International Music Festival runs from May 12 to June 4th.
And this year the Festival coincides with the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler.
One key festival guest was conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, who just happens to be an outstanding performer of Mahler’s music.
Thomas visited Prague on the premiere of his new documentary on Mahler’s life and works, shown at the „Evald“ Prague cinema.
The documentary is part of a TV series called „Keeping Score.“
This was well-appreciated by the Czech audience.
After the premier, Michael talked about his love for Mahler’s music.
[Michael Tilson Thomas, American Conductor]:
„When I first heard Mahler’s music when I was 13 years old, it made an enormous effect on me. And so from that moment I loved that music and was curious to discover all the rest of it and about the man who wrote it. And over my life I’ve come back to it so many times, and it’s been like a voyage. I sometimes think of these pieces as being like national parks. Every symphony is like a national park and every time you come back to it, of course you know the trails of the park, but according to whom you’re with and what your mood is, it’s a different experience. So my life would not be as it is without his music.”
In this documentary, the conductor mentions Mahler’s „Song of the Earth.“
This composition was considered by many music experts as a milestone in the history of European music.
Mahler drew his inspiration from an anthology of translations of old Chinese poems.
Mahler himself adapted the poems and even added his own verses, so in a sense he can be considered a co-author.
[Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor]:
“In the early 20th century a collection of translations of the Chinese poems called The Chinese Flute was done by a man called Hans Bethge and lot of these were translations of the poems from the Tang dynasty. And they were very much about the collapse of the empire. And I think Mahler, as well as many other artists, saw in these poems similarities to their situation as artists inside of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.”
On Wednesday the audience was treated to Mahler’s „Eighth Symphony,“ also known as the „Symphony of Thousands.“
It was performed by some 500 artists, making it the grandest and most expensive performance in the history of the Prague Spring International Music Festivals.
Two days later, on Friday, Michael and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler’s „Second Symphony.“
NTD News, Prague