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About the program

Both Wolf and Mahler were born in 1860. For a while, they were both studying in Vienna and their career paths crossed, although in most aspects they were polar opposites of each other. “The label ‘song composer’ is meant as a compliment, yet deep in my heart it makes me sad,” wrote Hugo Wolf in a letter dated October 1891. “Surely, this is nothing but a reproach to me composing only songs, suggesting that I am unable to handle any other genre.” Wolf may have taken this classification as an insult, but the term ‘song composer’ adequately describes his ?uvre. Throughout his life, which ended in a Viennesse mental asylum in 1903, he composed more than three hundred songs of which 24 have come down to us with full orchestral accompaniment.

Symphony No. 7 “It is my best work and predominantly of a cheerful character”, wrote Mahler in a letter to the Munich impresario and concert promoter Emil Gutmann. This description, however, suits only the final two movements; the Andante amoroso (4th movement) and the imposing 5th, the Rondo-Finale. Mahler composed his seventh Symphony in 1904–1905. The two charming ‘Nachtmusik’ movements, the 2nd and the 4th, were written in the summer of 1904, while the rest was finished the following summer. A letter he wrote to his wife Alma in 1910 recalls the circumstances around his composing; he was struggling and still unable to get on with his work. Mahler was on the verge of giving up, had reconciled himself to another wasted summer, when he decided to go rowing. The first few strokes evoked in him the subject of the first movement, or its rhythm at least, and from then on it took him barely four weeks to complete the entire symphony. For a while, the finished work lay in a drawer in Mahler’s desk, as the premiere of Symphony No. 6 still had yet to take place. Three years passed before the work was finally premiered.


Program

Hugo Wolf: Lieder
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 7 in E minor

conductor

Iván Fischer

Soloists

Roman Trekel, baritone