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Gustav Mahler in Leipzig- The Birth of a Titan
Gustav Mahler is considered one of the greatest composers. His works dominate concert halls worldwide. The soul life of the perfectionist musician has been illuminated in books and films. And yet there is a biographical gap in the literature. Mahler's time in Leipzig. The years of his life here are just as important for him as the years in Vienna and Amsterdam. Mahler was 26 when he came to Leipzig in 1886. At that time, the city was considered the musical center of Europe, along with Paris and Vienna. The New Theater, where Mahler was engaged as a conductor, was the most modern of the time. He quickly makes a name for himself as a Kapellmeister and initiates his meteoric rise as a conductor in Leipzig. With the premiere of his arrangement of Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Die drei Pintos", Mahler presents himself for the first time to a wider public as a composer. After the successful premiere of the Pintos, the entire international music world takes notice of him. "I became a well-known personality in one fell swoop, and not only in Germany, but throughout the world."
Spurred on by success and love, Mahler writes down his first symphony in May 1888 in just six weeks. After its completion, it is clear to him that he must compose from now on.
Chailly: "With the first symphony, he opens a curtain behind which a new sonic universe slowly emerges. A unique sound that was completely unknown until then. That is the power of Mahler."
After 22 months, Mahler leaves the musical city and moves on. The short time, however, is a milestone in his biography. Here, after all, he establishes himself as a conductor and discovers his vocation as a symphonic composer. However, Mahler returned again and again to the musical metropolis of the time to conduct his symphonies. His visit in November 1905 is significant: in the recording studio of Hugo Popper & Co, he recorded songs and symphonic movements on a grand piano made by the Leipzig company Feurig with built-in mechanical tone rolls. Since Mahler can no longer record the works with orchestras, these Leipzig rolls are invaluable today. After all, Mahler died at the age of only 50 in 1911.
We follow in Mahler's footsteps in Leipzig and film at authentic locations. With the help of animated photos, we bring life in the musical city of Mahler's time back to life. We let Ricardo Chailly have a word, who 10 years ago brought about a Mahler renaissance in Leipzig, we talk to the current Gewandhauskapellmeister Andris about Mahler, learn from the director of the Bach Archive Prof. Peter Wollny how Mahler brought Bach to New York and learn a lot about Mahler the man from his biographers.
We hear Mahler's interpretation of his of the soprano solo from his IV Symphony "Heavenly Life" on a self-playing Welte grand piano at the Eisenmühle Elstertrebnitz and make stops in Vienna and New York.