Why not Mahler, Norman? (part one)

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 die 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 die 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 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?

Advertisements

A concert with a difference…even for die zauberflote…*M4B

Whenever I perform with die zauberflote I share with the audience a bit about it, so that they are not taken entirely by surprise.  I say that it has a mind of its own, especially when I am improvising.  I will think I’ll be going in one direction and it will want to go in another.  It’s a fairly subtle thing most of the time, but can be a bit disconcerting.  But what I don’t say is that sometimes there is a sort of chatter in the energy of die zauberflote.  It’s hard to describe — again, it is subtle.

Often, when I am rehearsing, I will be aware of chatter.  Usually it seems to be providing information on technique or phrasing.  On occasion there can be a sense of urgency, as though it is giving me a heads-up of some sort. But usually, when it comes time to perform, I am surrounded by a sense of shalom that takes away all concern and care and allows me to focus on the flute itself.  As die zauberflote is a gift of the Holy Spirit it has the attributes of it, including being a spirit of truth and warning us of difficulties ahead.

So, in preparation for this Mall of America concert, which was a combination of Christmas carols, some blues, and some Messiah, I experienced a lot of chatter.  That didn’t surprise me, as endeavoring to do this performance without my wonderful husband Donner was daunting in itself.  Everything seemed different.  Everything would be different.  There was no getting around that.

On the day of the concert I trudged to MOA with my rolling cart containing Donner’s guitar, along with my equipment.  Just looking at it was enough to make me want to cry.  I spoke to the sound guys ahead of time and explained that there were a few songs I did not know if I could get through, and, if I made a throat-cutting motion they should just continue on to the next one.  I was prepared.  I was armed, I thought, for any circumstance.

Except what happened…

At some point during the carols there was an enormous amount of chatter. It was so pronounced I had a tough time not stopping to listen to it.  Two of my friends in the audience commented on it later.  It was like nothing I had experienced before, and certainly not during a performance.  As I kept on going, it seemed as though there might be a voice in the energy.  It was not exactly happy, but a bit grouchy and complaining. At that point I realized that it felt as though Donner’s voice was somehow coming through.  I kept on going, and then the sensation left, and everything else proceeded within the realm of normalcy…

But talk about ‘zauber’…that even had me stumped! 🙂

*M4B=Mozart For Believers

I thought we would grow old together…M4B*

bluexmas2016I felt that I had been looking for Donner Brown for a good part of my life.  We crossed paths many times when we both lived in New York City (his hometown) but never met.  I even stopped regularly outside the open doors of the Metropole jazz bar to listen to the great music.  I never went in though.  Donner was often inside, downstairs, playing the guitar.

Ironically, it was not jazz, but the assassination of President Kennedy that ultimately brought us together.  I was posting a controversial theory about the limousine on a newsgroup, and Donner was the only one standing up for me.  When we did meet I realized that life had hammered us down but that we were lucky to have found one another.  Along with the overwhelming sadness of losing him suddenly this May, ironically, on JFK’s birthday, comes an equally powerful sense of gratitude.

I thought we would grow old together, a little Jewish couple (Donner was born a Jew), confessing Hebrew scriptures under a prayer shawl, but that was not to be.  Donner was saved.  He loved Jesus, so I know where he is.  It is my wish to create a living memorial to him by dedicating this concert to him.  I hope you will join me.  (I took that photo of Donner in Dallas, on the roof of the Grand Hotel.)

*M4B=Mozart For Believers

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: