Photo: Indiana University
IU Philharmonic Orchestra
Mahler's Symphony No. 6
Musical Arts Center
October 3 @ 8 pm
“My Sixth will propound riddles the solution of which may be attempted only by a generation which has absorbed and truly digested my first five symphonies.” -Gustav Mahler
The Indiana University Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of David Effron, will perform the Symphony No. 6 in a minor of Gustav Mahler on Wednesday, October 3 at 8 pm.
The first decade of the twentieth century saw Mahler debut four of his nine completed symphonies. The fifth premiered in 1904, the sixth in 1906, the seventh in 1908, and the eighth in 1910, which was the last premiere the composer would live to conduct himself.
The Sixth Symphony was composed in a period of relative calm and happiness in Mahler’s turbulent life. Having settled into his post as director of the Vienna Hofoper, he delegated some of the conducting duties to his assistants to give himself more time for composition.
As with many of his works, Mahler revised the sixth symphony extensively over the years. The order of the inner movements and the number of “hammer blows” in the final movement are subjects of heated discussion among scholars. Maestro Effron has chosen to present the Scherzo second and the Andante third, the order which Mahler originally planned. Effron states, “I feel that this order makes the piece more cohesive.” He describes the moods of the movements of the sixth symphony as follows:
“1. Strong, heroic and brave. 2. Gruesome, ghostly, wild, devilish, contrasted with a scene of small children playing joyful games. 3. Serene, a moment of relaxation, a statement of beauty. 4. Heroic again. In spite of a multitude of different emotions throughout the movement, in the end the “good” and “brave” triumph.”
Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 takes approximately 80 minutes to perform and is scored for a large orchestra with extensive doubling in the winds and brass, two harps, celeste, and a large selection of percussion instruments both on and off stage. This symphony is performed less often than others in the Mahler catalog, so the Philharmonic’s performance is a unique opportunity to hear a live performance of this dramatic and beautiful work.