Mahler and the Cuckoo

Even as a child I was struck by birdsong. -Gustav Mahler The call of the cuckoo, often associated with spring, has long inspired composers. For example, the cuckoo’s harmonious falling major third can be heard in Handel’s Organ Concerto No.13 in F Major, the second movement of Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, and Frederick Delius’ shimmering 1912 tone poem, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring. The cuckoo’s call also finds its way into the music of Gustav …

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Mahler Turns 157

Today marks the 157th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Mahler. Mahler was born on July 7, 1860 in the sleepy village of Kaliště (population 330) in what is now the Czech Republic. He was only a few months old when his parents moved the family to the larger regional center of Jihlava. (The city’s German name is Iglau). Below is a live concert performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony from this past March. Andrés Orozco-Estrada …

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Adolph Herseth and the Chicago Sound

Recently, I ran across tributes to Adolph “Bud” Herseth, the longtime principal trumpeter of the Chicago Symphony who passed away in April, 2013. Herseth’s 53-year association with the Chicago Symphony began in 1948 when conductor Artur Rodzinski invited him to audition for the CSO’s principal trumpet position. Herseth will forever be associated with the distinct sound of the Chicago Symphony brass section, which developed in the 1950s and 60s during Fritz Reiner’s tenure as music …

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A Resolution in Atlanta

The Atlanta Symphony’s two-month-long lockout ended over the weekend. With the help of federal mediation, musicians ratified a four year contract. The agreement halts ASO management’s attempt to gain “flexibility” by downsizing the orchestra, ensuring a compliment of 88 full time musicians by the contract’s final year. Read this article and visit Drew McManus’ Adaptistration for background and in-depth analysis. The lockout (the second in Atlanta in two years) has delayed the start of …

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Remembering Claudio Abbado

Renowned Italian conductor Claudio Abbado passed away yesterday at the age of 80. You can read about his life here. The greatest conductors know exactly what they want the music to sound like. Through unwavering conviction, they inspire the musicians of the orchestra to share their vision. Great conductors don’t practice in front of a mirror to put on a show. Every gesture embodies the essence of the piece in an honest …

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