A while back music critic and arts lover Norman Lebrecht wrote a somewhat impudent and controversial book about Gustav Mahler, called ‘Why Mahler?’ Even though Mahler’s music was at last standard fare with most symphonies, his stated intent was to bring additional attention to the symphonies and lieder of Mahler. The central focus of the book was apparently to ask and answer the question of what value Maher and his music have for us today.
As curious as this book is, there may be wider and even more significant implications to Mahler and his life than anything Mr. Lebrecht has posited. In fact, Mr. Lebrecht might have deliberately slanted or eliminated significant facets of Mahler’s life, possibly even for some mysterious agenda of his own. Some of these significant issues may, in fact, have something to do with me and the Zauberflote. And Mozart. And New York City.
Let me explain…
If I am correct, when Wolfgang Mozart died some sort of vortex of energy was created. It was centered at the house where he died, on Rauhensteingasse, in Vienna. It may have been created from the energy of the unusual and additional gift in Mozart’s music — something I call a ‘gift of shalom’. It is also the ‘Zauber’ in the Zauberflote. Something unique. Something overwhelmingly controversial. Something sublime. It has also been labeled “The Mozart Effect.” Exactly what happened to Wolf is another story, and one that I won’t go into now, but let me just say that it seems to me there is still a great mystery around Wolf and his death, and the existence of such a vortex just might be part of the explanation.
Mahler found his passion for composing in Vienna and spent much of his life there. Did he sense the vortex connected to Mozart and his music? Did he step into the mystery of what happened to Mozart and why, as, for example, I think Beethoven did? Or could he have been unsuspectedly pulled into this vortex of powerful energy? I ask this question because of what he decided to do at a critical point in his life.
When working with the Vienna Opera became unbearably painful, Gustav Mahler set his sights on America. New York City, to be specific. He became the first globe-trotting conductor of great stature. In fact, for the last five years of his life he traveled back and forth between Europe and America, conducting with the newly-funded New York Philharmonic.
All right, you might say. A couple of interesting coincidences…
But there is more. Mr. Lebrecht fails to include any mention of what Gustav’s wife, Alma, said about her husband’s last words. What were they?
“Mozart! Mozart! Mozart!”
I boldly proclaim that this exhortation puts dear Mahler in the center of the Mozart vortex. Not only that, but Alma actually moved to New York City after his death, living at 120 E. 72nd street. She died there in 1964. So was she aware of his possible connection to the vortex?
Mr. Lebrecht knows of me from my posting on his popular Slipped Disc blog during the lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra players. I hoped, as a fellow Mahlerian (for I am indeed also obsessed with Mahler and his music) that he might listen to what I had to say. I explained that I felt I had an unusual and tangential connection to the lockout, in that previously some of the players, whom I have no choice but to call “Monostatos” used the stage at Orchestra Hall as a device to threaten and discourage me and, in effect, lock me out. I had hoped for at least a sympathetic ear. But, instead, Mr. Lebrecht allowed a music critic from Chicago (where I was born, incidentally) to attempt to slander me on that blog. That attempt was not successful and, ironically, Andrew Patner collapsed and died unexpectedly a few months later. So it was at this point I accepted that I had not won over Mr. Lebrecht, who boasts of 1 million viewers a month on his blog.
Let me finish by stating that because of my Father’s job as a metallurgical engineer, our family moved from Chicago to the New York City metro area when I was three and I grew up in a nearby town in Connecticut. Later I moved to New York City, living not far from where Alma had lived. My dear husband Donner, who passed away tragically and unexpectedly this spring, grew up in the same neighborhood.
And so I ask you, and Mr. Lebrecht, to consider the possibility that the importance of Gustav Mahler has yet another dimension, one certainly mysterious but perhaps even more profound than of those we already know.
Did Mahler bring the Mozart vortex from Vienna to New York City? And, if so, what are the implications?