The Last of the Romantics - Mahler and Fin-de-Siècle Vienna
13th - 28th October 2017
Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century was a vibrant melting pot for music and the arts. Whirling waltzes sat alongside gargantuan symphonies. The height of romanticism had been reached but was nearly exhausted and on the brink of a whole new musical language. Tradition - with Brahms a holder of the torch - was face to face, sometimes uncomfortably, with the daring and modern.
Gustav Mahler was a dominant musical personality: composer and preeminent conductor, steeped in tradition but a champion of the new. During this edition of the Oxford Lieder Festival, Mahler's complete songs with piano will be heard, inviting a fresh look at this 'symphonic' composeer and the enduring place of song in the musical landscape. His choices of texts, wider artistic influences from literature to art to nature and folk music, his Jewish background in a conservative Catholic city, his encounter with Sigmund Freud, his encouragement of fellow composers and more will all be explored in this packed fortnight.
Mahler's Vienna will also be placed in a wider context, with tradition represented in the songs of Schubert and Beethoven, an exploration of Brahms' glorious melodic gifts and intricate text setting, and music by Hugo Wolf (who excoriated Brahms!), Alexander Zemlinsky, Erich Korngold, Joseph Marx and others. Richard Strauss may not have resided in Vienna until 1919, but his musical language was evolving within the Viennese traditions and many of his songs will also be heard. A late-night salon will look ahead to the Second Viennese School, including several of Schoenberg's seminal works. Study days, readings, screenings, workshops and more once again make for an exhilirating Festival that will illuminate the era and inspire audiences afresh and anew.
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