On the Upbeat MAY 2010 • VOLUME 3, EDITION 7
Dear Friends: We conclude this “Crescendo” Season on a most electrifying, dynamic and emotionally spellbinding note with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. After the premiere of this symphony, Mahler is reported to have said, “Nobody understood it. I wish I could conduct the ﬁrst performance ﬁfty years after my death.” His intuition was correct in that his music is better understood and admired today as this masterpiece has proven. Widely embraced by orchestras around the world more than a century later, it has become a staple of the standard orchestra repertory. An artistically challenging piece, I am very conﬁdent that our orchestra is up for this challenge. Over the past few years, we have held many auditions to ﬁll previously vacant seats and I am thrilled with the quality of musicians that have joined our orchestra family including many of our Principals as well as section players. Through a most competitive process, we have welcomed, in total, approximately 35 musicians of the highest caliber representing diverse cultural and academic backgrounds. Herbert von Karajan once said of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, “you forget that time has passed. A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience. The fantastic ﬁnale almost forces you to hold your breath”. Mahler’s music is not only technically very demanding but it is also emotionally extremely charged. The composer, himself a great conductor, wrote endless comments and remarks in the score (more than any other composer), for the instrumentalists and the conductor, intimately guiding them through the work in order to best achieve his intentions. However, carefully following all of his instructions does not prove to be enough to secure a great performance. In order to achieve “Mahler’s sound”, every single member of the orchestra must give his/her heart and soul to interpret every phrase of this piece. Comprised of ﬁve movements including the famous “Adagietto”, the Symphony No. 5 begins in the key of C# minor and concludes in D Major, thus displaying progressive tonality. Just as this piece demonstrates a progression of tonal keys, the Santa Barbara Symphony’s execution of this monumental work demonstrates the progression of this orchestra. And it goes without saying that it is with your continued support that we are able to make these artistic strides. Please join us on May 15th and 16th so that the musicians and I can thank you, our valued audience members, as we put our best eﬀorts forth with the performance of Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 5. Musically yours, Nir Kabaretti
The Momentum Continues...
Magniﬁcent Mahler Saturday, May 15, 8pm & Sunday, May 16, 3pm THE GRANADA GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor
Composed in 1902; much revised through 1911. Premiered on October 18, 1904 in Cologne, conducted by the composer. Three piccolos, four ﬂutes, three oboes, English horn, three clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, six horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp and strings. Approximately 68 minutes.
“Oh, heavens! What are they to make of this chaos, of which new worlds are forever being engendered, only to crumble in ruin a minute later? What are they to say to this primeval music, this foaming, roaring, raging sea of sound, to these dancing stars, to these breathtaking, iridescent and ﬂashing breakers?” So Gustav Mahler wrote during the rehearsals for the premiere of his Fifth Symphony in Cologne to his wife, Alma, in Vienna. He was concerned that this new work, so diﬀerent in style and aesthetic from his earlier symphonies, would confuse critics and audiences just when his music was beginning to receive wide notice. Deryck Cooke, in his ﬁne study of Mahler, noted the ways in which this Symphony and its two successors diﬀer from the Symphonies No. 1
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through No. 4. “Gone are the folk inspiration, the explicit programs, the fairytale elements, the song materials, the voices,” Cooke wrote. “Instead we have a triptych of ‘pure’ orchestral works, more realistically rooted in human life, more stern and forthright in utterance, more tautly symphonic, with a new granite-like hardness of orchestration.” What brought about the radical change in Mahler’s symphonism in 1902? Heinrich Kralik’s comments typify the baﬄement among scholars: “Nothing is known of any outward experiences or inner transformations during that period which could account for the new mode of expression. There was no outward struggle which could have threatened the composer’s career [which also included directing the Vienna Opera] and shattered his peace of mind. Mahler’s music provides us with the only indication that his inner life underwent a change at that time.” With a rare unanimity, commentators have ignored the central biographical event in Mahler’s life during the time immediately preceding the composition of the Fifth Symphony—he fell in love, a condition not unknown to alter a person’s life. In November 1901, Mahler met Alma Schindler, daughter of the prominent painter Emil Jacob Schindler, then 22 and regarded as one of the most beautiful women in Vienna. Mahler was 41. Romance blossomed. They were married in March, and were parents by November. Their ﬁrst summer together (1902) was spent at Maiernigg, Mahler’s country retreat on the Wörthersee in Carinthia in southern Austria. It was at that time that the Fifth Symphony was composed, incorporating some sketches from the previous summer. He thought of this work as “their” music, the ﬁrst artistic fruit of his married life with Alma. But more than that, he may also have wanted to create music that would be worthy of the new circle of friends that Alma, the daughter of one of Austria’s ﬁnest artists and most distinguished families, had opened to him— Gustav Klimt, Alfred Roller (who became Mahler’s stage designer at the Court Opera), architect Josef Hoﬀmann and the rest of the cream of cultural Vienna. In the Fifth Symphony, Mahler seems to have taken inordinate care to demonstrate the mature quality of his thought (he was, after all, nearly twice Alma’s age) and to justify his lofty position in Viennese artistic life. Since neither Mahler nor Alma explained the great change of compositional style of 1902, the question can never be securely answered. Mahler’s renewed musical language seems too close in time to the vast extension of his social life engendered by his marriage, however, to have been unaﬀected by it. In an 1897 letter to the conductor Anton Seidl, Mahler himself conﬁrmed the symbiotic relationship of his music and his life: “Only when I experience do I compose — only when I compose do I experience.” The musical style that Mahler initiated with the Fifth Symphony is at once more abstract yet more powerfully expressive than that of his earlier music. In his book on the composer, Egon Gartenberg noted that the essential quality diﬀerentiating the later music from the earlier was a “volcanic change to modern polyphony,” a technique of concentrated contrapuntal development that Mahler had derived from an intense study of the music of Bach. “You can’t imagine how hard I am ﬁnding it, and how endless it seems because of the obstacles and problems I am faced with,” Mahler conﬁded to his friend Natalie Bauer-Lechner while struggling with the Symphony’s third movement. Free of his duties at the Opera between seasons, he labored throughout the summer of 1902 on the piece at his little composing hut in the woods, several minutes walk from the main house at Maiernigg. So delicate was the process of creation that he ordered Alma not to play the piano while he was working lest the sound, though distant, should disturb him (she was a talented musician and budding composer until her husband forbid her to practice those skills after their wedding), and he even complained that the birds bothered him because they sang in the wrong keys (!). Every few days he brought his rough sketches to Alma, who copied them over and ﬁlled in some of the orchestral lines according to his instructions. The composition was largely completed by early autumn when the Mahlers returned to Vienna, but Gustav continued to revise the orchestration throughout the winter, daily stealing a few early-morning minutes to work on it before he raced to the Opera House. The tinkering went on until a tryout rehearsal with the Vienna Philharmonic early in 1904. Alma, listening from the balcony, reported with alarm, “I heard each theme in my head while copying the score, but now I could not hear them at all! Mahler had overscored the kettledrums and percussion so madly and persistently that little beyond the rhythm was recognized.” Major changes were in order, Alma advised. Mahler agreed, immediately crossed out most of the percussion parts, and spent seemingly endless hours during the next
seven years further altering the orchestration so that it would clearly reveal the complex musical textures. Hardly any two performances of the work during his lifetime were alike. The premiere in Cologne brought mixed responses from audience and critics. Even Bruno Walter, Mahler’s protégé and assistant at the Vienna Opera and himself a master conductor and interpreter of his mentor’s music, lamented of the ﬁrst performance, “It was the ﬁrst time and, I think, the only time that a performance of a Mahler work under his own baton left me unsatisﬁed. The instrumentation did not succeed in bringing out clearly the complicated contrapuntal fabric of the parts.” It was not until one of his last letters, in February 1911, that Mahler could ﬁnally say, “The Fifth is ﬁnished. I have been forced to re-orchestrate it completely. I fail to comprehend how at that time  I could have blundered so like a greenhorn. Obviously the routine I had acquired in my ﬁrst four symphonies completely deserted me. It is as if my totally new musical message demanded a new technique.” Mahler had indeed solved the problems of the work with its ﬁnal revision, according to Bruno Walter. “In the Fifth Symphony,” Walter wrote, “the world now has a masterpiece which shows its creator at the summit of his life, of his power, and of his ability.” Though there have been attempts to attribute extra-musical dimensions to Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (one, a 23-page analysis of the work’s musico/metaphysical aspects by Ernst Otto Nodnagel of Darmstadt—“What an eccentric!” Alma noted of him—appeared soon after the premiere), this is “pure” music. “Nothing in any of my conversations with Mahler and not a single note point to the inﬂuence of extra-musical thoughts or emotions upon the composition of the Fifth,” wrote Bruno Walter. “It is music—passionate, wild, pathetic, buoyant, solemn, tender, full of all the sentiments of which the human heart is capable —but still ‘only’ music, and no metaphysical questioning, not even from very far oﬀ, interferes with its purely musical course.” For his part, Mahler, who once thundered across a dinner-party table, “Pereant die Programme!” (“Perish all programs!”), did not create any written description of the Symphony, as he had for his earlier works, but determined to let the music speak unaided for itself. He insisted that the audience have no program notes for the premiere or for later performances in Dresden and Berlin. The only quasi-programmatic indication in the score is the title of the ﬁrst movement—Trauermarsch (“Funeral March”) —but even this is only an indication of mood and not a description of events. It is with this work that Mahler left behind the mysticism, mystery and symbolism of Romanticism and entered the modern era. It stands, wrote Michael Kennedy, “like a mighty arch at the gateway to 20th-century music.” Mahler grouped the ﬁve movements of the Fifth Symphony into three parts, a technique for creating large structural paragraphs that he had ﬁrst used in the Third Symphony. Thus, the opening Trauermarsch takes on the character of an enormous introduction to the second movement. The two are further joined in their sharing of some thematic material. The giant Scherzo stands at the center point of the Symphony, the only movement not linked with another. Balancing the opening movements are the Adagietto and the Rondo-Finale of Part III, which have the quality of preface and summation. The structures of the individual movements of the Symphony No. 5 are large and complex, bearing allegiance to the classical models, but expanded and re-shaped, with continuous development and intertwining of themes. The Trauermarsch is sectional in design, alternating between music based on the opening trumpet summons and an intensely sad threnody presented by the strings. The following movement (“Stormily moving. With great vehemence”) resembles sonata form, with a soaring chorale climaxing the development section only to be cut short by the return of the stormy music of the recapitulation. The Scherzo juxtaposes a whirling waltz/Ländler Ländler with trios more gentle in nature. The serene Adagietto, perhaps the most famous (and most often detached) movement among Mahler’s symphonies, serves as a calm interlude between the gigantic movements surrounding it. The closing movement (RondoFinale) begins as a rondo, but interweaves the principal themes with those of the episodes as it unfolds in a blazing display of contrapuntal craft. The triumphant chorale that was snuﬀed out in the second movement is here returned to bring the Symphony to an exalted close. ©2010 Dr. Richard E. Rodda
“Music Behind the Music” Pre-Concert Events
Magniﬁcent Mahler Saturday, May 15, 8pm & Sunday, May 16, 3pm
with your host, Ramón Araiza
FREE TO ALL CONCERT TICKET HOLDERS
M AHLER : Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor
Concert Saturdays 7pm-7:30pm Concert Sundays 2pm-2:30pm (1 hour prior to each concert)
For single tickets, call The Granada box ofﬁce, 1214 State Street, at (805) 899-2222
“ ‘Music Behind the Music’ is one of my favorite parts of the concert! We did not want to miss Ramón!” – Sandra Lindquist, SB Symphony Subscriber Concert pianist, composer/arranger and music scholar Ramón Araiza presents “Music…Behind the Music!” These lively, interactive events take you on an insightful (and humorous) journey of discovery, shining light on the music you’re about to hear in the concert hall. Mr. Araiza’s extensive musical background, presentation style and passion bring each work and composer to life. Please join us in The Granada. Arrive early, venture in, and experience Ramon’s unique genius! Plus, make sure to read Ramon’s creative and artistic “Notes Behind the Notes” in The Granada lobby!
Santa Barbara Symphony Concerts One-time-only Broadcasts on
May concerts broadcast: Oct. 3, 7 p.m. ©On On the Upbeat Upbeat, MAY 2010 VOL. 3, EDITION 7. Published for Symphony Series concert subscribers by the Santa Barbara Symphony, 1330 State Street, Suite 102, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, (805) 898-9386 —A non-proﬁt organization.
Published on May 15, 2010
Nir’s Notes: Marilynn L. Sullivan The Momentum Continues... Composed in 1902; much revised through 1911. Premiered on October 18, 1904 in Co...