“The Song of the Earth” would have been Gustav Mahler’s 9th symphony had he been less superstitious. It is a veritable and powerful masterpiece and the last of his great works, tragically inspired by three events in Mahler’s life: leaving the post as the director of the Vienna Opera after a decade of turbulence, his beloved four year old daughter passed away from scarlet fever and diphtheria, and he was diagnosed with severe heart disease that would limit his deep love for physical activity in nature. Although his doctor cautioned him against his hectic work schedule of composing and performing, he would ignore this advice to go through a journey of intense soul searching for the transient meaning of his own existence to create his most emotionally powerful masterpiece of his career and lifetime.
Inspired by a book by Hans Bethge called “The Chinese Flute” and channeling his grief and sadness into his music, Mahler chose seven songs to set with a striking orchestral accompaniment. The outcome was to be his most personal, tragic, moving, and powerful “symphony in songs” as Mahler described it, but was altered to a “symphony for alto and tenor soli with large orchestra.” Many believe Das Lied von der Erde to be more song-cycle than symphony. Whatever you want to call or label it, it will rivet you to your seats and take you into a fascinating, melancholy journey of the richness and cycles of life and death, and leave you emotionally moved. Question your own mortality and life as you let the powerful music seep into your ears, brain, heart, and soul. Let classical music transform how you view life and death. You don’t have to understand this piece or know any of its background to feel the emotions it invokes.
These spectacular concerts with the Florida Orchestra on March 15, 16, & 17 end perfectly with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No.45 in F-sharp minor named “Farewell.” A very eerie fit with Das Lied as the Hadyn symphony finishes with the dark music of the first movement in a turbulent strain descending through a minor tonic chord in the violins, with the dark mood continuing throughout to a second theme, then a brighter rich melody in D major to transition back to the restless and turbulent emotion of the exposition. Haydn’s Farewell is a beautiful transition to end this magnificent and emotionally powerful orchestra concert.
Even dark music can be uplifting, especially in St. Petersburg’s beautiful orchestra venue by the water. Enjoy some great classical music and be a part of something artistically beautiful, innovative, and exciting! Be a regular attendee at classical music concerts and sign up for tampaclassical.com’s weekly email to receive the latest exclusive news and lists of upcoming concerts. Feel encouraged donating, sponsoring or purchasing an ad on tampaclassical.com to help fuel your love for classical music here in the Tampa Bay region and the surrounding area. Enjoying classical music has never been so easy or so much fun!
Be ready to be swept off your feet by the hauntingly beautiful orchestra of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde on Saturday March 16th at 8:00PM at the Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Want to venture into a deeply personal, poignant, and utterly profound concert that will excite your senses and unleash a range of powerful emotions?
Us, too. See you there!
But before you go, tell us in the comments below what you most intrigues you about Mahler’s grand music: the voices, orchestra, mood, poems, title, superstitions…