Marin Alsop deconstructs Mahler’s Sixth Symphony

Posted on: November 15, 2016

“I’m not sure there has ever been a more fitting symphony for our time than Mahler’s Symphony No. 6,” says Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop in a Saturday (11/12) segment on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Alsop led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Sixth this past weekend at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. “By the 1890s, Mahler was a veritable rock star—a celebrated conductor accompanied by throngs of adoring fans wherever he went…. Mahler finished his Sixth Symphony in 1904 and premiered it two years later…. He kept changing his mind about the order of its four movements. And then there are the terrifying hammer blows in the finale…. Contrasting with the thunderous hammer blows are Mahler’s offstage cowbells, emerging to evoke an idyllic existence. It’s a feeling lost on many us today but it was probably quite a nostalgic moment for listeners in Mahler’s time. In the Sixth, Mahler seems to be searching for meaning in a rapidly changing, complex world while worrying about potential annihilation by fanatical forces…. [Leonard] Bernstein used to say that Mahler was ‘the prophet of the 20th century.’ Maybe we should amend that to include our own 21st century.”

Posted November 15, 2016