Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mahler in Hartford

I just read the article from the Hartford Courant written on February 17, 1911 that describes the performance by Gustav Mahler and the "Philharmonic Society of New York" in Hartford on February 16 at the Parsons Theater. The Parsons Theater was located on 66 Prospect Street.

Mahler "fully demonstrated, to the music-lovers there assembled, his remarkable abilities." The first work was an arrangement by Mahler of a "suite for orchestra" from the second and third Bach Suites. Mahler played continuo on piano "so modified in tone as to approximate the effect of the harpsichord."

Also on the program was the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony, Weber's Invitation to the Dance, and Les préludes by Liszt.

The program was well received. At one point the applause was "so insistent" that "the members of the orchestra were called on to rise to share it with their leader--and they, as well as he, fully merited the audience's appreciation."

The anonymous reviewer complained that the "audience was not as large as it should have been, by any means." At the end of the review a fateful statement: "If [Mahler] ever comes here again at the head of an orchestra he should be welcomed by an audience as large as the theater will accommodate."

Mahler and the Philharmonic had come from a performance in Springfield MA on the 15th, and would perform only twice more in New York--on the 19th and the 21st, before Mahler's health required him to return to Vienna. He died there on May 18.

There is a fantastic searchable database that has been added to the New York Philharmonic website. If one enters a search on "Mahler, Gustav" under the "Search by Artist" tab one can look through 67 programs that he conducted, both at home in New York and on tour. Interestingly the Hartford performance is not listed yet in this database. One can also see that Mahler performed 160 different works, a few as many as twenty-one different times.

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