Box Office

Vienna PhilharmonicOLD

Donna L. Kendall Classical Series

A Shanbrom Family Concert


Semyon Bychkov, conductor


Pre-concert lecture by Rich Capparela, 7pm
The location of the pre-concert lecture venue will be the Studio Performance Space, located on the 3rd floor of the concert hall.

MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 in A minor "Tragic"

Program Notes

MAHLER: Symphony No. 6 in A minor "Tragic"
Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony premiered in Essen, Germany, under the composer’s direction May 27, 1906. A rare success amongst his symphonies during his lifetime, it was greeted by eight ecstatic curtain calls. Perhaps its reception was helped being far from Vienna, where his tenure as music director of the Vienna Opera was fraught with conflict, which sometime carried over into the symphonic hall. The symphony’s themes arose from many sources. Quick ears will catch a hint of Liszt’s Piano Concerto in E-flat in the first movement and themes from Mahler’s own Kindertotenlieder in the third movement. The composer’s wife Alma asserted that she and their two young daughters are also to be heard in the work, and occasional march-like rhythms may recall that Mahler grew up within hearing of a military barracks. The massive final movement is dominated by a theme that may suggest an epic hero struggling onward, surviving blows of fate, until a third blow proves fatal. The image, if true, is both ironic and tragic. Within a few years of completing this symphony, Mahler himself would suffer three crushing blows: the diagnosis of a heart condition that would ultimately prove fatal, the termination of his position with the Vienna Opera, and the sudden death from scarlet fever of his four-year-old daughter. It might almost seem that, in this magnificent symphony, Mahler had tempted fate and lost. Disagreement exists as to the order in which the movements should be played. Usually, there would be evidence from the published score and/or for performances given in the composer’s presence. Indeed, Mahler himself conducted the piece on numerous occasions in the five years that remained to him. However, even he did not always present it the same way. The two middle movements – a brisk Scherzo and a gentle Andante – might be heard Scherzo-Andante or Andante-Scherzo, in either case with support from Mahler’s own example. Most conductors have followed the practice of his last years on the podium: that the Scherzo should follow the Andante. Others suggest that the dramatic energy of the work is better served by placing the Scherzo before the Andante. Either practice has authentic precedent, so the best authority seems to be whether one feels the serene moods of the Andante are better absorbed before or after the darker energy of the Scherzo, and that decision will lie largely amidst the conductor’s tastes and the mood of the day.

Pricing Information


Seating Chart