Mahler’s “Titan” to be performed at the Foundry Saturday, Nov. 17
- Published: November 16, 2018
The Yellow Springs Chamber Orchestra will present Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “The Titan” Saturday, Nov. 17, at 7:30 p.m., at Antioch College’s Foundry Theater, 920 Corry St., under the direction of James Johnston.
The original version of the symphony had its premiere in 1889, 129 years ago, on Nov. 20 — almost to the day of the YSCO performance — in Budapest, by the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, and was conducted by the composer himself.
Mahler initially named his work after a novel of the same name by the German writer Jean Paul, published between 1800 and 1803.
According to an essay found on mahler.com:
Mahler drew much inspiration for the creation of the first symphony from impressions he gained reading the works of Jean Paul. As a sign of gratitude, Mahler included the title from the novel “Titan”, the book which had been the greatest source of inspiration for the symphony.
He dropped the title, according to his wife, Alma, who claimed that her husband Gustav was constantly asked to explain how “various situations from the novel were interpreted in the music” which caused him to remove the title.
Perhaps the most famous association with the symphony is that of the whimsical engraving “The Hunter’s Funeral Procession,” cut in 1850 by Austrian artist Moritz von Schwind.
The Hunter’s Funeral Procession title for the third movement refers to an old folk story that was well-known among Austrian children in Mahler’s time. Mahler wrote: “In connection with the third movement (marcia funebre)… I received the extra musical suggestion for it from the well-known nursery picture (The Hunter’s Funeral)… the eerie and ironical, brooding sultriness of the funeral march.” These sentiments are clearly expressed musically by Mahler in the funeral march movement.
The story’s narrative is told through the eyes of forest animals and is written in a jocular character. It tells of the the burial of a hunter whose funeral procession is composed not of humans, but wild animals, including a bear, foxes, hares, a wolf, cranes and partridges, song-birds. The animals seem to derive great joy from the occasion with rabbits leading the procession holding banners and music been sung by all the animals, accompanied by the musical cats and a group of Bohemian musicians.
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