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Mahler's Monumental "Resurrection" Symphony

Mahler's Monumental "Resurrection" Symphony

Gustav Mahler was born at Kalischt near the Moravian border of Bohemia on July 7, 1860, and died in Vienna on May 18, 1911. Mahler originally wrote the first movement of his Symphony No. 2 in 1888 as a “symphonic poem” entitled Todtenfeier (“Funeral Rites”). He wavered for five years about whether to make Todtenfeier the beginning of a symphony, and it was not until the summer of 1893 that he composed the second and third movements. The finale and a revision of the first movement followed in the spring and summer of 1894. Later that year, he inserted as the fourth movement the song “Urlicht” (“Primal Light”), probably composed in 1892 and orchestrated in 1893. The fair copy of the complete score of the symphony is dated December 28, 1894. Mahler revised the scoring again in 1903 and was still tinkering with the score as late as 1909.

Mahler wrote a several versions of a narrative program for the work, which he shared with friends. Ultimately, he withdrew all versions of the narratives. But in the program book at the premiere in 1901, the first movement represents a funeral and asks questions like: “Is there life after death?” The second movement is a memory of happier times. The third movement shows a view of life as meaningless. The fourth movement is a wish for a release from this meaningless life, and the fifth ends with a fervent hope for everlasting renewal.


Gustav Mahler


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Musical Insights

Free Pre-Concert Preview Series!

Friday, May 1 at 1:30 pm

Enhance your concert experience with a sneak preview — Composers come alive and their passions take center stage when ESO General Manager David Ellis and ESO Maestro Lawrence Eckerling take you on an insider’s tour of the history and highlights behind the music.

Meet our soloist, Inna Faliks, at Musical Insights. She and our Maestro Lawrence Eckerling and David Ellis will explore the May concert program in depth.

The Merion
Friday, May 1 at 1:30 pm,
The Merion Crystal Ballroom at
1611 Chicago Avenue at Davis Street, Evanston.
FREE and open to the public.
Please RSVP to 847-562-5318.

Light refreshments will be served and casual tours of newly renovated apartments will be available after the program.