Born: 1860, Kaliště, Bohemia
Died: 1911, Vienna, Austria
Mahler’s instrument was the orchestra. In his own lifetime, he was best known as a powerful and reforming conductor, working as director of the Vienna Opera for ten years, and then at the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera near the end of his life. He wrote no concertos, concentrating on large-scale orchestral works and songs. The extravagant emotional range of these works disturbed many of Mahler’s contemporaries, but that cathartic tension and passion has since endeared him to a large audience. Mahler has had a significant presence throughout LA Phil history. The Philharmonic’s first music director, Walter Henry Rothwell, was Mahler’s assistant conductor in Hamburg and introduced the First Symphony and the Fifth Symphony’s Adagietto into the Philharmonic’s repertory. Gustavo Dudamel stunned the musical world with his Mahler Project in 2012, performing all nine completed symphonies (and more) with the LA Phil and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, both here in L.A. and in Caracas, Venezuela.
Janet Baker; New Philharmonia
Orchestra, John Barbirolli (EMI)