Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 originates in his symphonic poem Totenfeier of 1888 – later used as Movement One of this monumental work, in which the fear of death is overcome by the hope of resurrection. Resurrection is the subject of the solemn vocal finale setting a poem by Friedrich Klopstock, to which the symphony owes its title (though not given by the composer himself): Die Auferstehungssinfonie. Mahler himself interpreted this programmatic symphony as a great metaphor of life, of its joys and sorrows, an obsessive memento mori and an expression of the Christian hope of salvation and eternal happiness (two years after its premiere, Mahler was baptised and officially became a Christian). The music contrasts consciously trivial elements (such as grotesque echoes of military marches) with profound symbols. The horrifying vision of death from Movement One is confronted with the eschatological message of the finale, whose immense expressive power comes from powerful choral sound, a huge orchestra and organ. Already in his First, Mahler used a song element which later became a trademark of most of his symphonies. While in Symphony No. 1 we can only hear instrumental quotations from songs, here an orchestral song becomes a vocal section of the composition (the beautiful solo Urlicht to words from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, which served Mahler as an inexhaustible source of inspiration). At the time of its premiere (Berlin 1895), Symphony No. 1 strongly divided the audience and the critics, infuriating the conservatives and arousing the enthusiasm especially of young advocates of musical modernism. Time has given justice to this work, which is now one of the most popular items in the concert repertoires.
You are invited to this concert by Siemens Healthineers – Warsaw Philharmonic Sponsor of the Year