Thomas Hampson on Musical Conversations between Mahler and Berg

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thomas Hampson Thomas Hampson. (Margaret Kelley/WQXR)

Thomas Hampson says that Wozzeck is the opera that Gustav Mahler never wrote. In this episode of the Operavore Show he examines what he calls a shared "musical DNA" between Mahler and Alban Berg.

Mahler died when he was 50 years old and in many ways Berg picked up where he left off -- creating marches and other militarily inspired works. Wozzeck was, after all, Berg's answer to "the War to End All Wars." Hampson discusses how the two composers used music to express political aggression, anti-war sentiments and their concern for people deemed "outsiders." The show wraps with an illuminating comparison between Mahler’s 10th Symphony and an adagio from the last scene of Wozzeck.     

As a little bonus, this week we're offering our listener's an opportunity to enter a Thomas Hampson Giveaway! Read below for instructions on how to participate. 


Gustav Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn “Trost im Unglück”
Wiener Virtuosen; Thomas Hampson, baritone
Deutsche Grammophon 4779289 

Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 7 in E Minor: I. Langsam – Allegro risoluto, ma non troppo
San Francisco Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
San Francisco Symphony Media 5575

Alban Berg Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6: III. Marsch
Wiener Philharmoniker; Claudio Abbado, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 4791514

Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 9 in D: II. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers. Etwas täppisch und sehr derb.
Berliner Philharmoniker; Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon 435378

Alban Berg Wozzeck, Op. 7: Act II, Scene 4 (Tavern)
Paris National Opera Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, conductor
Sony 79251

Gustav Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn “Revelge”
Wiener Virtuosen; Thomas Hampson, baritone
Deutsche Grammophon 477 9289

Gustav Mahler Symphony No.10 in F sharp (unfinished): I. Adagio
Wiener Philharmoniker; Claudio Abbado, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon 447023

Alban Berg Wozzeck, Op. 7: Act III, Scene 5
Paris National Opera Orchestra; Pierre Boulez, conductor
Sony 79251

Gustav Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn “Der Schildwache Nachtlied”
Wiener Virtuosen; Thomas Hampson, baritone
Deutsche Grammophon 4779289


Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

LEONARD BERNSTEIN, GUSTAV MAHLER ALBAN BERG ARNOLD SCHONBERG VERDI and WAGNER all were openly political and their choice of subject matter permitted a laser-like exposition of their individual points of view.
Everyone, even infants, seek to express themselves and their needs. Creative artists, more than the general public project their views in their creations. Often the original conceptions yield to the characters created who take on a life of their own. Shakespeare and Verdi and Wagner all admitted that their own "Frankenstein monsters" steered them in diverse directions from what was originally conceived. With MAHLER a man tortured by the death of his daughter and parents, the infidelity of his wife Alma and his frail health, his music composing was his psychological best medicine. HOW DUCKY that a composer whose sexual angst is represented in all his works, including his DAS LIED VON DER ERDE and his LIEDER EINES FAHRENDEN GESELLEN should be revealed as a sexually repressed individual !!! MAHLER's music needs no asterisk, it speaks magnanimously for love and its deprival. The pitch for composers should be their talent not their idiosyncratic personalities. If people knew the political or sexual background of painters, sculptors, authors, actors, musicians or singers would that steer them away. I doubt it.

Jul. 15 2014 08:15 AM
Adele (aka AF) from Nassau County, Long Island

One of the best discussions I have heard on this Operavore broadcast--musically sophisticated! Thanks!

Mar. 22 2014 03:53 PM
Joseph Ciolino from nyc

Wozzeck is also, remarkably, the opera the Mozart didn't write! Oh, and Verdi and Bellini, and . . Oh, wait, no, Bellini DID write Wozzeck. Amazing. And he also wrote, "Guys and Dolls," though few people know that. Not Broadway's "Guys and Dolls," but another one, "Ragazzi and Ragazze." It is very Wagnerian. And let's not forget Wagner who also did NOT write, "Tea for Two," and, "Moby Dick."


Mar. 22 2014 01:05 PM

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