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Georg v. Lenny: A History of The Mahler Cycle

While America was grieving over the untimely death of their president and Khrushchev was fighting nuclear disarmament, two eastern European expats were battling out the biggest influence of the 20th Century: The Music of Gustav Mahler.

When Bruno Walter died in 1962, no one really quite knew what exactly to do with Mahler's music. There were a few symphonies recorded, but nothing complete. Mahler had no legacy. His symphonies were considered long, droll, and obtuse.

However, Leonard Bernstein in New York and Sir Georg Solti in Chicago were both thinking of Mahler, Walter, and their own legacies. They wanted to be the first to have a complete Mahler Cycle for the masses. Bernstein barely beat Solit, but music aficionados debated for over a decade on which cycle was best. Solti had a brass section on par with Peter O'Toole's trek through Arabia, while Bernstein drew listeners in with pure raw emotion and a longing for something more, even if they could figure out just what they were longing for.

Mahler became popular and a household name. His music was revered for both the epic proportions and the feelings it could invoke out of the listener.

Soon other conductors followed in their own cycles; Tennstedt, Abbado, Mehta, Ozawa, Jansons, Chailly, Tilson Thomas, Maazel, Dudamel, and many many more. Mahlerites still argue today on who the best interpreter was, their own "all star" cycle, and whether the 10th is true Mahler.

A great derivate of this battle was popularizing the work of similar composers, such as Bruckner, Sibelius, Schoenberg, and Richard Strauss, who would have otherwise been all but forgotten.

If it was not for Georg and Lenny, I wonder where Mahler, and the others, would be today.

by Anonymousreply 18July 11, 2024 5:51 AM

Sibelius would never be forgotten. Never.

by Anonymousreply 1July 10, 2024 5:51 PM

[quote]Georg v. Lenny

Of Mice and Men?

by Anonymousreply 2July 10, 2024 5:52 PM

R1 He might have. This is a little speculation, but Sibelius sounds more like Bruckner/Mahler than Beethoven, etc.

R2 Similar, but sir Georg Solti and Leonard "Lenny" Bernstein is who the article is about

by Anonymousreply 3July 10, 2024 5:54 PM

Sibelius is famously associated with a country. More so than those composers who have to compete with each other and others in Austria.

by Anonymousreply 4July 10, 2024 6:02 PM

R4 Yeah, but he is mostly known for Finlandia, not his symphonies.

by Anonymousreply 5July 10, 2024 6:03 PM

Well, it's not like we have all that many world famous personages in the Arts.

by Anonymousreply 6July 10, 2024 6:04 PM

“Wagner is only known for the Ring Cycle”

by Anonymousreply 7July 10, 2024 6:13 PM

I can't deal with Bernstein's slooooow tempi for most stuff. I only go to Solti/Chicago's box set for Mahler 2, as they are the only group I've seen to keep the tempo going in the 5th movement's fun march of the dead. I like to see conductors dripping in sweat by the time they get to the final "cry of despair" before the ethereal choral ending.

For 1, 5, 6 & 7, I rely on Abbado & Berlin, though Karajan is fine for 5 as well. Haitink had my favorite Mahler 3, but I can't find it anywhere. Boulez and Chicago for Mahler 9. I hate Mahler 8, so whatever.

by Anonymousreply 8July 10, 2024 6:13 PM

R7, who said that? “Tristan und Isolde” would like a word. Anyway, Wagner, the Voldemort of classical music, is one of the most influential artists ever. Mahler, Bruckner, Schoenberg and Strauss would never have been who they were (Long! Loud! Emotionally overwrought!) without him.

by Anonymousreply 9July 10, 2024 6:19 PM

He WAS Sir Georg Solti!

He WAS Leonard Bernstein!

by Anonymousreply 10July 10, 2024 6:26 PM

[quote]Haitink had my favorite Mahler 3, but I can't find it anywhere.

There are numerous CD copies on discogs.com, with the Concertgebouw.

by Anonymousreply 11July 10, 2024 11:05 PM

OP did you mean “droll” or “dull”?

by Anonymousreply 12July 11, 2024 1:33 AM

I prefer Lydia Tar.

by Anonymousreply 13July 11, 2024 2:26 AM

Haitink recorded about 25 Mahler cycles.

Bernstein’s CBS cycle was generally superb (1, 2, 3, 7, 9), but the 5 in that cycle is a turd.

I’m with R8 in that I really dislike the Mahler 8.

by Anonymousreply 14July 11, 2024 4:08 AM

Actor Eric Porter named Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Georg Solti, as one of his desert island discs.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 15July 11, 2024 4:15 AM

[quote]Bernstein’s CBS cycle was generally superb (1, 2, 3, 7, 9), but the 5 in that cycle is a turd.

Agreed, assuming you're talking about the NYPO 2, not the LSO that was released on CD first. Also, 6 from Bernstein's CBS cycle is the only version I want to listen to. Most conductors take the opening too slowly. Bernstein's DG 5 is my favorite, and I like 2 from that cycle.

by Anonymousreply 16July 11, 2024 4:20 AM

R16, yes, I meant the New York Philharmonic cycle! Also agree with you on the DG 2 and 5. I also like the DG 1 more than the CBS one. But they’re both great.

by Anonymousreply 17July 11, 2024 4:28 AM

My favorite Mahler is Abbado in Berlin

by Anonymousreply 18July 11, 2024 5:51 AM
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