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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000062.txt from 2005/08

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: [kl] Mahler
Date: Fri, 05 Aug 2005 17:11:32 -0400

At 04:10 PM 8/5/2005, Lacy, Edwin wrote:
>From: Adam Michlin
><<<Mahler would definitely fit the definition of a self-appointed stuffy
>(thought he was a) god. It is a shame, to me, heaven forbid someone
>actually *enjoy* a concert and express themselves!>>>
>So, I assume you are saying that if people don't wildly flap their hands
>together like trained seals at every hint of silence during the course
>of a piece, then they aren't enjoying the music? Do you also believe
>that musicians should smile while they are playing in order to show that
>they are enjoying the music?

You may assume, you are incorrect. I simply do not see any reason to vilify
people who enjoy themselves at a concert so much that they wish to applaud.
A more careful reading of my message should show that. I do, however, admit
sarcasm does not travel well in ASCII text (next time I'll use
****extra**** asterisks and exclamation points!!!!).

>I claim that on the contrary, you can't tell whether or not a person is
>understanding and/or enjoying music by the way they look, or by the
>amount that they clap their hands at opportune or inopportune times.
>There are some people in the world who prefer to hear music in a context
>of silence. If you would be inclined to clap your hands after the 4th
>movement (Adagietto) of Mahler's 5th Symphony, then I suggest that you
>would have had no idea what the music is about. Or, do you reserve such
>uninhibited displays only for loud and fast music, as many audiences are
>inclined to do today?

Well, I wouldn't be inclined to do so, but I also wouldn't be inclined to
suggest that someone who would do so "would have no idea what the music is
about". Elitism at its worst. It is sad that the symphony concert has
become an event with so many unwritten rules that many outsiders feel they
perceive a risk of public ridicule if they go to such an event. On the
other hand, I don't think expecting people to turn their cell phone ringers
off is too much to ask.

>I would suggest that before criticizing Mahler, you should learn more
>about him and his music. In the opinion of many musicians, if not a
>"God," Mahler as a composer was about as close to being a "god" as we
>have experienced in the past 100 years or so. There is much material
>available about him and his music, as well as his viewpoints on music,
>art, and life. I recommend some reading to you.

Interesting. Mahler was known as an absolute tyrant *as a conductor* from
his early days at the Vienna Opera House (he was also well known for
getting results). This, at times, rubbed people the wrong way and burned a
lot of bridges (although the degree to which said bridges were burned due
to anti-semitism cannot be known), but no one could argue with his results
*as a conductor*. It would be rude of me to suggest some literature on
Mahler's conducting career for you to read, so I won't.

This is not criticism, this is fact. Or do you really wish to dispute the
fact that most conductors in earlier part of the 20th century thought of
themselves as absolute dictators and practically deities? Toscanini,
Stokowski, Szell, Walter, Reiner ... do I need to go on?

If you wish to deify him, you are more than welcome to, but the man was
human. As to my crack about repeating his movements, lighten up!

>As you can surmise, I found your message somewhat irritating, if not

So it goes,


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