This weekend, Seattle Symphony will undertake their first full performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 under the direction of Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Dausgaard.
Mahler, beloved for his lush, late-Romantic melodies and organic symphonic compositions, left his Symphony No. 10 unfinished at the time of his death in 1911. Many of the movements lacked orchestration choices, and only the first movement was deemed appropriate for performance as Mahler would have approved–and so, for decades, it was the only movement that symphonies would perform. Half a century later, musicologist and Mahler scholar Deryck Cooke would create his first version of a “completed” Mahler 10 score, fully realizing the orchestration in the latter four movements; his full and final performance edition was published in 1989.
Though many musicologists, scholars, and Mahler lovers may not appreciate the supposed inauthenticity of the Cooke version, Mahler’s surviving wife Alma gave her blessing for his score to become the definitive performing version, and it has since become the standard for Symphonies wishing to perform Mahler’s final and debatably most dissonant work. Mahler’s personality and autobiography shine through his pieces, whether via tormented dissonance or luscious love themes. His Symphony No. 10, written on his deathbed and in the midst of a rocky marriage, reflects his life’s circumstances to the end, evident in the epitaph of the final movement: “To live for you! To die for you!”
No matter your views on authenticity or history, come prepared to have your heart wrenched open with this masterwork.
Seattle Symphony Does Mahler 10
When: November 19, 21, 22; see their calendar for time and details.
Where: Benaroya Hall (200 University St.)
Tickets start at $21; check the Symphony’s website for details.