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Mahler had more challenges than most of us; grief for a dead daughter, a forced resignation from a treasured conducting post at the Vienna Opera, anti-Semitic attacks, the diagnosis of a potentially fatal heart condition, and the final straw, his wife Alma’s infidelity.

As a result, his Tenth Symphony is one of the most personal of the cycle.

Two-thirds through the first movement you’ll hear a terrifying howl of anguish, a shrieking chord packed with dissonances, with a trumpet continuing on a top A (for Alma?) that’s unique in music, which never resolves. Mahler added it to the score after opening a letter mistakenly addressed to him from the dashing young architect Walter Gropius, his wife Alma’s lover. Mahler asked her to choose and she stayed with him until he died the following year.

The work is cast in five movements, with two adagios framing two scherzos and a tiny, aching intermezzo at the centre. On the radiant final pages, Mahler leaves the words, ‘to live for you! To die for you!’ and the single word ‘Almschi’ under the closing bars.


Artists

Conductor
Sir Andrew Davis

Program

Mahler / Cooke
Symphony No.10

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