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RNCM Symphony Orchestra

Friday 31 March 7.30pm

RNCM Concert Hall


Arnold Schoenberg Five Pieces for Orchestra Op 16
Gustav Mahler Symphony No 9
Jac van Steen, Manoj Kamps conductors

Mahler’s Ninth Symphony has divided opinion for decades – is it a hymn to the end of all things or an ultimately affirmative lovesong to life and to mortality? It is, of course, down to the listener to interpret the piece and find their own meaning. The Ninth took shape against a background of painful memories, frustrated love and a life about to be cut short – Mahler’s daughter had died, he was in an unhappy marriage, his own health was failing and it was the end of his reign as Artistic Director of the Vienna Court Opera.

Consequently, the piece is full of contrast – life/death, lyricism/pathos, stillness/storm – yet while it is dark, grotesque and disturbing, there is a painful beauty running through this symphony. The despair and anguish co-exist with other Mahlerian qualities – a passionate love of life and nature; an idealistic instinct to confront despair with heroic endeavour; and a magnificent pride in creative powers which, despite his illness, remained undiminished. In fact, Mahler said at the time: ‘I am thirstier for life than ever…

Tonight’s programme is completed by a composition by Mahler’s good friend, Arnold Schoenberg. The two men respected and admired each other enormously. This early work was written in 1909, during a time of intense personal and artistic crisis for the composer. This is reflected in the tensions and at some times extreme violence of the score mirroring the Expressionist movement of the time, in particular its preoccupation with the subconscious and burgeoning madness.


Spotlight: A Woman's Life and Love

Friday 31 March 6.30pm

Songs and duets from Barbara Stozzi to Madeleine Dring

Free admission, no ticket required

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Friday 31 March 7.30pm - Tickets from £14