Seven at Seven, Mahler Cycle Continues Tonight on Symphony at 7

The opening of Mahler's Seventh Symphony was said to be inspired by the sound of oars striking the water while Mahler rowed across a lake at his summer retreat at Maiernigg where he did much of his composing.(Photo: Furukama)
The opening of Mahler's Seventh Symphony was said to be inspired by the sound of oars striking the water while Mahler rowed across a lake at his summer retreat at Maiernigg where he did much of his composing.(Photo: Furukama)

Our on-going cycle of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler continues on Classical 101 this evening at 7 p.m. with Mahler’s Symphony No. 7.

After tonight, we have three more Mahler symphonies to go:

  • Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand,” will air Friday evening
  • Symphony No. 9 on Monday
  • and Deryck Cooke’s completion of Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No. 10 on Tuesday

I hope you can join me this evening for what I think is the most enigmatic of Mahler’s symphonies.

Written in 1904-5 but first performed in 1908, Mahler’s Seventh Symphony is unusual in form and expansive in its instrumentation. There are five movements with two of them, the second and fourth, titled “Nachtmusik,” or night music – but don’t think of Mozart, there’s some stranger stuff going on here.

The scoring for Mahler’s seventh symphony includes some unusual instruments – mandolin, guitar, cowbells and deep-pitched bells provide for some unique sounds, even for Mahler.

The opening of the first movement was said to be inspired by the sound of oars striking the water while Mahler rowed across a lake at his summer retreat where he did a lot of composing and the last movement sounds like the prelude to Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” gone wild.

If you are intrigued, tune in this evening at 7 p.m. to Classical 101 for the “Song of the Night,” as Mahler’s Seventh Symphony came to be nicknamed.

Watch the Berlin Philharmonic perform an excerpt from the Symphony:

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