Mahler 10: Letters and Readings


Friday 22 March at 7:30pm

Costa Hall, Geelong


This performance will also be presented at Hamer Hall on Thursday 21 and Saturday 23 March.


Sir Andrew Davis conductor
Tama Matheson presenter


Mahler Personal letters, readings
Mahler/Cooke Symphony No.10

About the performance

Mahler had more challenges than most of us; grief for a dead daughter, a forced resignation from a treasured conducting post at the Vienna Opera, anti-Semitic attacks, the diagnosis of a potentially fatal heart condition, and the final straw, his wife Alma’s infidelity. As a result, his Tenth Symphony is one of the most personal of the cycle.

In the first half of the concert actor and director, Tama Matheson will join conductor Sir Andrew Davis to read and share the words of Gustav Mahler, contextualising Mahler’s epic final symphony, which Sir Andrew will conduct during the second half.

Two-thirds through the first movement you’ll hear a terrifying howl of anguish, a shrieking chord packed with dissonances, with a trumpet continuing on a top A (for Alma?) that’s unique in music, which never resolves. Mahler added it to the score after opening a letter mistakenly addressed to him from the dashing young architect Walter Gropius, his wife Alma’s lover. Mahler asked her to choose and she stayed with him until he died the following year.

The work is cast in five movements, with two adagios framing two scherzos and a tiny, aching intermezzo at the centre. On the radiant final pages, Mahler leaves the words, ‘to live for you! To die for you!’ and the single word ‘Almschi’ under the closing bars.

Step inside the mind, and the music, of a classical music giant under the guidance of Sir Andrew Davis, Tama Matheson and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Running time

2 hour, including a 20-minute interval

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