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.
Today's symposium, moderated by NEC music history chair Katarina Markovic, brings together a "who's who" of expertise in preparing Mahler editions and performances and understanding Mahler's own re-workings and re-orchestrations of other composers' works, with David Pickett from Art Institute of Houston, NEC's Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras Hugh Wolff, conductor Benjamin Zander of the NEC faculty, and James Zychowicz from A-R Editions.
Katarina Markovic explains the basis of this symposium:
Gustav Mahler’s (in)famous statement "Tradition is slovenliness" ("Tradition ist Schlamperei")—as a response to criticism of his unconventional and controversial interpretations of the classical canon—reveals a conductor who actively sought to uncover layers of his predecessors' music that were not regularly heard.
Regarding his "re-touchings" of Beethoven’s symphonies, Mahler emphatically asserted: "the conductor can prove, score in hand, that, far from arbitrariness and premeditation, but also misled by no 'tradition,' it has been his sole purpose to sympathize with Beethoven’s will to its apparently most insignificant detail."
Preceding a concert where Hugh Wolff will conduct the NEC Symphony in a performance of Mahler's "re-touched" version of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, this symposium will address, on the one hand, the complicated issue of Mahler's own activities as conductor and his interpretations of other composers' works, and on the other hand, the various and vastly differing approaches to Mahler's works in 20th- and 21st-century performance practices.
Issues of editions and editorial practices relating to Mahler’s works, the reception of Mahler's music both in Europe and in the U.S., as well as the shifting of meaning and focus depending on the conductor's and performer's interpretative decisions will be some of the topics explored by leading Mahler scholars and performers in this discussion.
Katarina Markovic has written on Mahler's Beethoven interpretations and teaches NEC's courses on Mahler and the symphony after Beethoven. Read her essay "100 Years Later, His Time Is Now."
David Pickett: "In Search of Mahler the Conductor"
Pickett's doctoral dissertation examines Gustav Mahler as an Interpreter. He has written on Mahler's re-touchings of other composers' works, works with the Mahler Society on editions of these works, and blogs on music, particularly Mahler. Pickett is chair of audio production at Art Institute of Houston. Read a summary of David Pickett's research on "Mahler's Retuschen."
Hugh Wolff: "Mahler's dual life as composer and conductor: lifestyle, compositional decisions, revisions"
Wolff conducts the concert that follows this symposium, as well as other concerts in NEC's Mahler celebration.
Benjamin Zander: "What happened to Rubato? Interpretive issues in Gustav Mahler's symphonies"
Zander has conducted Mahler's symphonies with orchestras at all levels of experience, ranging from NEC's Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and College orchestras to the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra of London.
James Zychowicz: "Interpreting Mahler's Music: Performance Traditions in Notation and Practice"
Zychowicz writes scholarly articles and books on Mahler, and is editor of several volumes of Mahler's works. He represents A-R Editions, publisher of scholarly score editions. Read about a recent Zychowicz lecture on a Mahler manuscript fragment.