Mahler's Ninth Symphony: a career capstone and emotional farewell
Join us on Sunday, May 28 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1 and Monday, May 29 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 as The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert features an encore presentation of a 2019 concert led by music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, devoted to a complete performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 in D major.
Mahler penned his last completed symphony in 1909. At the time, he was haunted by traumatic events: the death of his beloved daughter, Maria Anna; the infidelity of his wife, Alma; and his own diagnosis with a serious and life-threatening heart condition. Indeed, Mahler would not live to rehearse or perform his Ninth Symphony. He died less than two years after completing it, at the untimely age of 50.
The work’s tormented first movement, Andante comodo, is based on a halting syncopated figure often compared to Mahler’s own irregular heartbeat. The fourth-movement Adagio, remarks Nézet-Séguin, is “an end that doesn’t want to end.” These two massive slow movements bookend two faster ones: a second-movement Ländler begins as an innocent country dance and takes on a more sinister character as it proceeds. The third movement is a highly varied Rondo-Burleske, interspersing fugal sections with grotesque and angry passages.
Though the composer did begin an unfinished Tenth Symphony in 1910, Yannick calls the Ninth his “real farewell,” noting that its closing pages are “Mahler at his purest.”
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 13
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor
WRTI PRODUCTION TEAM:
Melinda Whiting: Host
Alex Ariff: Senior Producer
Susan Lewis: Consulting Producer
Joseph Patti: Broadcast Engineer
Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast on WRTI Replay.