Gustav Mahler’s work needs to be seen to be truly appreciated, according to a leading German conductor.
Today (July 7th) would be legendary composer Gustav Mahler’s 150th birthday, and what better way to celebrate than by looking at the influence the Austrian-born musician has had on classical music.
Now more popular than ever, symphonies by Mahler are appearing on a growing number of orchestral programmes and continue to attract audiences in large numbers, despite dwindling classical music ticket sales.
Speaking to the DW World website, conductor Stefan Blunier, music director of the Beethoven Orchestra, explained why he believes the composer has a universal appeal.
“I think it’s the intangible [aspect of Mahler's music], and those who are sensitive enough recognise great potential in it,” he said.
Mr Blunier goes on to say that the parts of Mahler’s works that may seem “archaic or even afflicted are also relevant to our time, and I think the listener can compensate for the differences that come from living in a different era”.
Furthermore, the conductor claims that in order to truly appreciate Mahler’s work, classical music fans should experience it live, with the composer known for his massive orchestration and intense music.
“The Eighth [Symphony] is an event,” said Blunier. “Even for an audience that’s not accustomed to classical music, it is impressive when a 200-member orchestra and 500-member choir really cut loose.”
“If you’ve ever heard the end of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony performed live, when the music gets more and more intense, you know you can’t replicate that with the very best stereo system at home,” Mr Blunier added.
Mahler’s Fifth Symphony currently ranks at number 55 in Classic FM’s Hall of Fame, which details the nation’s 300 best-loved classical pieces.