For Mahler 6, West Virginia Symphony conductor builds a hammer instrument

Posted on: February 26, 2015

An unsigned item in Tuesday’s (2/24) Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, West Virginia) reports, “The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Grant Cooper performs two grand symphonies, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 and Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6” on its February 26, 27, and 28 concerts. “The concerts require the largest orchestra of the WVSO’s 2014-15 season. Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 is famous for its use of a unique hammer-striking instrument, and Grant Cooper has designed an instrument for the sole purpose of these concerts. ‘The big challenge for Mahler 6 is the sound and even the instrument that we use to get the sound of the hammer, which is in the last movement,’ Cooper said… ‘Mahler was never satisfied with the sound that he was getting back in the early 1900s.’ The piece contains six climactic hammer strikes, but the real impact comes from the brass-driven melodies, multifaceted harmonies and the work’s tragic narrative of the hero’s fall. ‘We also know that Mahler took one of the hammer blows out of the score because he was afraid that that final blow of fate would be his own demise,’ Cooper said…. Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 … calls for a much smaller orchestra…. String musicians will perform standing up with Baroque bows.”

Posted February 26, 2015