Der Wein & Mahler's Third Symphony

The New York Philharmonic

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Der Wein & Mahler's Third Symphony

This broadcast is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Kaplan with love from his family and gratitude from the New York Philharmonic.




Pierre Boulez


b. Montbrison, Loire, March 26, 1925
d. Baden-Baden, Germany, January 5, 2016

Pierre Boulez is equally distinguished as composer, conductor, and thinker about music. He first came to prominence in 1955 as a composer, with a performance of his Le Marteau sans maître at the International Festival Society for Contemporary Music at Baden-Baden, Germany. As a teacher and writer, Boulez has been a spokesman for new music and a new aesthetic of music. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and several books on music. In 1974, the President of France, Georges Pompidou, invited him to found and direct a music research facility at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. This prestigious Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) is home base for the Ensemble InterContemporain. He is also the co-founder of Cité de la Musique, a recently created music center in Paris.

For his New York Philharmonic debut on March 13, 1969, Boulez conducted Debussy’s Jeux and La Mer, as well as the Berg Violin Concerto and Varèse’s Intégrales. His performance of Le Sacre du printemps with the New York Philharmonic during that initial engagement prompted the Orchestra to engage him as its Music Director beginning in the 1971-72 season. In that post, and as Principal Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (concurrently, 1971-74), he broadened his repertoire to provide audiences with mixed programs of older classics and more recent music.

Under Boulez, the New York Philharmonic introduced such innovative series as the Rug Concerts and Prospective Encounters, which were built around programs of contemporary music and provided opportunities for the audience to interact with artists involved in the production.

Learn more about Pierre Boulez






Der Wein


Symphony No. 3

GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 3 (1895-96)

Gustav Mahler composed his Third Symphony at Steinbach, his rustic cabin retreat on the banks of an Austrian lake, where children and animals were kept out so as not to disturb him while he was composing. The Symphony underwent many revisions, including reducing the number of movements from seven to six and withdrawing their descriptive titles in favor of simple tempo markings. Still, Mahler’s original titles illuminate his plans and give us a glimpse of his inner world: I. Summer marches in; II. What the flowers of the field tell me; III. What the animals of the forest tell me; IV. What man tells me; V. What the angels tell me; VI. What love tells me. (He didn’t discard the 7th movement, “What the child tells me,” however; he recycled it as the last movement of his Symphony No. 4.) Mahler told fellow-composer Jean Sibelius that “a symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” And perhaps his words to his friend Anna von Mildenburg provide the best guide for the listener: “[the Third Symphony] is a musical poem that progresses through all the stages of evolution…beginning with inanimate Nature and proceeding step by step to God’s love.” The symphony calls for huge orchestral forces, mezzo-soprano, and women’s and children’s choruses. Its language encompasses everything from folk melodies and marches to dark night music and sublime lyricism. A “watch-for” note: it is traditional for the conductor to step off the podium after the vast first movement, which is about 30 minutes long. The pause is not intended for seating latecomers, however; it’s for the audience and the performers to get a bit of respite from their exertions and to prepare them for the remaining musical canvas on which Mahler—at the still-youthful age of 36—paints an entire universe.
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