Monday, August 4, 2008

Song of the Earth

I don't have much to say for myself tonight because I spent the day trying to finish a translating job and then went on an actual date.

We heard Mahler's Lied von der Erde - Song of the Earth - played by the German Youth Orchestra at the Konzerthaus (which I will always call by its old name, the Schauspielhaus) in the former East Berlin. The orchestra was just a bunch of kids, really, aged 14 to 19. They blew away lots of older, more professional musicians.

Interestingly, in light of how long Germany's top orchestras were male dominated (the Berlin Philharmonic still had only a handful of women 20 years ago), the youth orchestra was predominantly female. I'm curious to see how they'll transform the music landscape over the next 20 years.

I know Mahler isn't everyone's thing. People fall into two categories, I guess: those who adore Mahler and think he expresses the whole range of human experience, and those who think he's just noisy, overblown, and in bad taste. (Well, I guess there's a massive third category, those who don't give a shit about classical music, but they've stopped reading by now.)

I love him partly because music can be heard as pieces for French horns (sometimes small armies of them) accompanied by orchestra, which - as an old horn player - is how I listen to them. I think Mahler manages to capture joyful angst and angst-ful joy. He merges beauty and despair. I didn't just get tears in my eyes; my nose turned a charming shade of blubbery red. Luckily my date knew that about me before he married me.

One of my daylilies from mid-July - it doesn't quite capture the spirit of the Lied von der Erde, but it'll have to do.

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