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He's more than a bunch of symphonies and songs. Even those are not what you think. And although the music stopped with his death in 1911—100 years later, his time is now. During four months of concerts, jam sessions, conversation, and film, free your mind about what Mahler really means.

David Loebel, Associate Director of Orchestras, leads the NEC Symphony in the evocatively titled program, "Life, Death and Redemption."

Beethoven Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72a
Mahler Totenfeier
Berlioz La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24:
Dance of the Sylphs, Will-o-the-Wisps, Rákóczy March
Tchaikovsky Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32, TH 46

Totenfeier was Mahler’s first orchestral work, an early version of the first movement of his Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection." Composed in 1888, nearly six years before he completed the rest of the Symphony, it did not receive a performance in Mahler's lifetime. In its original version, the piece is relatively unknown: it lay dormant after Mahler's death until 1983, and the score was not published until 1988. Originally a one-movement orchestral work, it was in Mahler’s vision always part of a multi-movement symphony. Likely inspired by Dziady (Forefathers), a dramatic epic by the Polish-Lithuanian poet Adam Mickiewicz, translated into German under the title Totenfeier by Mahler’s close friend Siegfried Lipiner, Totenfeier might have been at some point considered as a tone poem, primarily in hope of an earlier performance date.

The drama depicts partly an ancient Slavic and Lithuanian feast commemorating the dead and partly the tragic Wertherian destiny of the hero “Gustav,” who was condemned as a wandering soul to hover in the vicinity of his lost beloved. Here's an opportunity to hear a live performance of this still rarely performed early work.

Conductor Loebel comments that this program incorporates music that is perhaps dominated by the themes of "Life, Death, and Destruction" what with the Dantesque scenes of damnation in the Berlioz and Tchaikovsky. For "Redemption," listeners are invited back to his concert on November 9 when he looks at "two paths to Heaven" as described by Mahler and Olivier Messiaen.

Read David Loebel's program note on Totenfeier and find other Mahler program notes.

Date: October 5, 2011 - 8:00:PM
Price: Free
Location: NEC’s Jordan Hall

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WITHOUT CRAFTSMANSHIP, INSPIRATION IS A MERE REED SHAKEN IN THE WIND. JOHANNES BRAHMS