On Saturday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. ET, watch the McGill Symphony Orchestra under direction of Alexis Hauser perform Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 9 live from Pollack Hall in downtown Montreal.
The final symphonic work that Mahler completed before his death in 1911, the symphony is organized into four movements. While this follows the usual format of other symphonic works, Mahler's Ninth deviates from the norm in that the first and final movements are at a slow tempo rather than a fast one. After its premiere in Vienna a year after the composer's passing, it was suggested that this compositional choice was inspired by his impending death.
To help us learn more about the unique nature of the work, Hauser shared his viewpoint on the piece: “The incessant juxtaposition of strong contrasts is a characteristic of many masterpieces. But Mahler's Ninth is unique. On the one hand, it expresses farewell to a musical past that the composer knew and loved like no one else — even though he played a major role in bringing it to an end — while simultaneously also pointing to a future that could not have come about without him.”
“On the other hand," Hauser continued, "an astonishingly simple premise lies at the basis of his last finished, immensely complex composition! I believe that it is, above all, these opposite poles, filled with (if not completely overwhelmed by) the content and expression of all conceivable human feelings, that constitute the wonder and mystery of this creation and that impart to the listener a sense of an inimitable spiritual cosmos.”