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Gustav Mahler 1860-1911: From The Youth’s Magic Horn to the new century

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Saturday 13 Aug 2016
3:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Queensland Multicultural Centre

Presented by Margaret Baker-Genovesi
From The Youth’s Magic Horn to the New Century – Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) is undoubtedly best known for his huge symphonic output, but from his earliest years he showed an abiding interest in the human voice and in poetry, and indeed several of his symphonies require a singer’s participation – or that of several singers, as in the case of the Symphony VIII. What is perhaps less known is that while still in his twenties he began to write Lieder – songs on a poetic text for piano accompaniment – and that many of these were settings of poems from the anthology known as The Youth’s Magic Horn, a collection of German and Austrian folk poems from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Goethe, to whom the anthology was dedicated by its compilers, Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano, maintained that a copy of this anthology should take its place in every German household along with the Bible. Mahler was clearly fascinated by the poems, with their tales of love and war, magic, superstition and tragedy, and his settings range from the light-hearted to the deeply emotional and dramatic.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Mahler was returning to works by the great poet of the Romantic era, Friedrich Rückert, and my talk will also feature two of these marvellous songs, one written for a piano accompaniment and one with a magnificent orchestral accompaniment.

All the original texts will be shown on screen, together with English translations, and the singers will be some of your favourites.