While I thought I would be posting today about the very stressful lockout situation in the Twin Cities, I find that I am unable to move forward without sharing a somewhat eccentric (among the general public) musical event that takes place at least every winter in my life. I am not originally from Minnesota, and the winters here are brutal and hard to bear. Even worse, they can last for months and months. So I have to develop strategies for coping with the day-to-day grind of just getting around. Of course, I do that with music. It is inevitably Mahler.
Some time ago, after I had spent a few weeks being driven around the Austrian Alps in winter, I realized that it was one thing to grit my teeth, wrap my scarf around my neck and forge out into the frigid air; it was quite another to think of myself as an Austrian princess, sitting in a silver Mercedes, being chauffeured around the beautiful mountain roads and passes. And, of course, what other music would one listen to, but Mahler, who loved Austria and its beauty so very much. So, this is a zone that I go into, and it makes the time fly as I am having dirty mud thrown up onto the windshield by passing trucks. It always works. I emerge at my destination as calm and refreshed as though I had been the passenger, with nothing better to do than listen to the exquisite sounds of Mahler’s music and stare at the beautiful countryside. Well, Minnesota doesn’t have mountains. But that is another story. At times, when the clouds are just right, it is easy to imagine that they are the snow-tipped Alps, beconing in the distance. I know; I’m desperate. Just bear with me.
Well, as the weather has begun to change, and although autumn is still doggedly hanging on this year, I have already begun my annual Mahler immersion. Today, I listened to the M8, Tennstedt, London. It is still going through my head, hours later.
And so, for the next six months or so, I will sink myself daily into another of Mahler’s creations. Some I have memorized, or pretty much so, such as the M4 and M5, so that makes them somewhat trite. I will listen to them one movement at a time, or intersperse movements from other symphonies. But the magic is always there.
If there is an evil force in the world, and I believe their is, Mahler has managed to accept it, confront it, and use it in his music. His music goes from the most silly and ridiculous marches and wails that you can possibly imagine to the most exhausting and extraordinary joy.
So, I’ve been accused of being part of a Mahler cult, who disrupts normal conversations with comments about what I’ve been listening to, or how one orchestra is so much better at playing Mahler than another. But I can sincerely say that I doubt that appreciation of Mahler’s music, no matter how loud or enthusiastic, is cultish — but I can definitely say that I seem to have a chronic and incurable case of Mahleria…