Mahler's Ninth Symphony BBC Proms

Mahler's Ninth Symphony

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APPLAUSE Hello, and welcome to the Royal


Albert Hall. I'm standing high up in the gallery down below the stage


and arena are filling up, and there's a real buzz of expectation.


Tonight at the BBC Proms, the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra


are here with their British Principal Conductor Roger


Norrington. There's just one work on the programme: Mahler's last


completed symphony, the 9th, a piece forged from three personal


hammer blows of fate - the death of Mahler's child, the loss of his job


as director of the Vienna Opera and the discovery of the illness which


would soon end his life. As so often, Mahler downloads his


tortured state of mind directly into the music, but the 9th


Symphony isn't overloaded with death and despair. Sure, it's full


of neurotic bombast and bitter, ironic humour, but there's hope


also, and at the end a kind of serene acceptance. Earlier today I


spoke to Roger Norrington and asked him if he thought this symphony


really was Mahler's life laid bare. I don't think he ever wrote a bar


which wasn't felt by him and wasn't about him in some sort of way. I


think that's absolutely right. People say the first four


symphonies were programmatic and after that it was and tract music.


He didn't write abstract music. He wrote film music, and he was the


star. Mall Earl often uses musical quotes in his material and also in


the 9th Symphony. What do you make of that? I think it's very


important. There are wonderful quotation in the last movement and


particularly one from Kintentotne Leader, but the one that has taken


a century to find is in the 1st movement because five times in this


movement he quote a Strauss Jr waltz from 1870. It was written for


the Opening Ball in Vienna, and Mahler evidently connected it with


his youth. He studied in the music, If einne building. He quotes it,


and the name of the waltz is Enjoy Life. And of course, that's exactly


what he couldn't do once he had been diagnosed with heart trouble,


so it's very, very touching. This tune keeps coming back and spurring


him on again, and a mixture of nostalgia and pure love. Of course,


the movement is in four, so he's putting it in four-time, which is


unusual, but there is this extraordinary - da, da, da, dum


# Da, de # Ya da, da, da #


That's all it is. It keeps coming back. There's little interval in


there - # Farewell


# Farewell # Which you hear over and over again


in the movement. This is a symphony of farewell. Roger Norrington, who


tonight conducts his last concert as conductor of the Stuttgart Radio


Symphony Orchestra. Sadly, Mahler never lived to hear his 9th


Symphony performed. He completed the orchestration in 1910 and died


the following year just short of his 51st birthday, and it wasn't


performed until 1912 when Bruno Walter, Mahler's assistant and


protege, conducted it in Vienna. Now, if you want to know more about


the symphony, you can access the programme online. Just go to

:03:54.:03:57., and there's loads of information about the composer, the


music and the musicians, and also, if you want to follow the


conductor's every beat, just press your red button to access


MaestroCam with live commentary. If you have anything you want to share


with us about The Proms, join us on Facebook. Hey, why don't we try to


get Mahler trending on Twitter? So to conduct Mahler's great 9th


Symphony, here's Sir Roger Norrington.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 4549 seconds


It is terrifying and paralysing as the strands of sound disintegrate -


the words of the great Mahlerian conductor Leonard Bernstein on


Mahler's Symphony No 9 given in tonight's performance by the


Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, leader Natalie Chee, conductor, Sir


Roger Norrington. I don't know about you, but for me the sound of


this orchestra is a revelation in Mahler, minimal use of vibrato,


incredibly bright woodwinds. The result is intensely bracingly


coloured. And here comes Sir Roger Norrington once again, an historic


night for him, his last night as Principal Conductor for this


orchestra. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. One doesn't


usually do an encore after Mahler 9th.


LAUGHTER But I just feel like doing one


tonight. And I thought the very piece would


be an elegy. It was written in 1909, exactly the same time that Mahler


was writing the symphony you've just heard, and it was written by a


great English composer almost exactly the same age as Mahler. Of


course I mean Edward Elgar, so I think this is a fitting tribute to


our Mahler year, and I hope you find it as moving as I do.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 4549 seconds


Elgar's Elegy for Strings, Roger Norrington's own farewell gift with


the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra as he steps down as their


Principal Conductor. APPLAUSE


So we say farewell to this wonderful guest orchestra from


Germany. We'll be back at The Proms tomorrow night with the London


Philharmonic Orchestra as we move east from Mahler's Vienna to


Hungary and music from three giants of 20th century music, Kodaly,


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