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Blog Mahler Festival Amsterdam 2025
- 18-09-2023 Review: Klaus Mäkelä came close to all-encompassing transcendence with his delicate and soulful interpretation of Mahler’s ‘Third Symphony’
Translation review (Dutch/English):
Klaus Mäkelä came close to all-encompassing transcendence with his delicate and soulful interpretation of Mahler’s ‘Third Symphony’
- At many classical concerts the applause starts immediately after the final chord. However, on Thursday evening there was a long silence after the end of Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony by the Concertgebouw Orchestra. People held their breath, with or without a lump in the throat, after a perfectly measured performance led by future chief conductor Klaus Mäkelä.
- In his longest symphony, Mahler envisioned nothing less than a transcendental journey through the different stages of consciousness, from the formless matter from which life arose to the embrace of God’s eternal love. Along the way, he celebrates the plant and animal kingdoms and probes the pain and joy of human existence. In the fifth, penultimate part, female voices and an innocent children’s choir lift the searching soul to ultimate redemption.
- Mäkelä came very close to this all-encompassing transcendence with his equally delicate and deeply felt interpretation. Throughout all six movements he showed an iron control, using emphasis and contrasts sparingly so that all his choices really meant something. The radiant call of the horns at the beginning promised an RCO in top form, with the brass section playing the leading role – a promise that was fulfilled without fail.
- In the first part, with Jörgen van Rijen’s magnificent trombone solos, Mäkelä gently kissed the forest god Pan awake and added increasingly bright brushstrokes to his euphoric march. The dark, descending figures disrupting the parade could have been more frightening, but later it turned out that this was probably a well-considered decision.
- The reed and woodwind instruments intertwined their dancing themes in the second part so lightly that it seemed as if the entire orchestra was floating a meter above the stage. In the Scherzo , trumpeter Omar Tomasoni sublimely silenced the beautiful animal cacophony, playing a real post horn.
- Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston sounded equally comforting, and richly filling the room, in O Mensch! Gib eight! . Mäkelä found a delicate balance here between her voice and the mysterious nocturnal sounds in the orchestra. After the outburst of naivete, joyfully sung by the Laurens Symphonic and the National Children’s Choir, he spun out a heart-touchingly beautiful final movement. And now he looked into the yawning abyss when the fear chords from the first part returned briefly.
- Throughout the evening, Mäkelä managed to dose the tension, speed and color saturation in a meaningful way. He fully deserved the outpouring of the loudly triumphant finale, for himself and the audience, in this fantastic first performance by the RCO in his home port.
- 21-07-2023 We are reopening the historic Museumplein entrance on Van Baerlestraat! With three large patio doors at the front, the Concertgebouw will once again connect to the Museumplein. The official reopening is on September 2, 2023, a special moment. General director Simon Reinink says: ‘The Concertgebouw is accessible again from Museumplein, the most important cultural square in our country!’
- 30-06-2023 Gustav Mahler’s most beloved compositions (survey):
- 27-06-2023 The original main entrance on Museumplein will also be used again in the new season. The three new doors can already be seen from the outside.
- 23-06-2023 The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) closes the 2022-2023 season with a spectacular performance of Shostakovich Sympony No. 9 led by guest conductor Jaap van Zweden. The audience is delirious. The new season will open September 15 with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. Conductor is Amsterdams “own” Klaus Mäkelä.
- 22-06-2023: One of the organizing partners is the international Mahler Foundation.
- 24-05-2023: Publication of the book “Violinist” by Marc Daniel van Biemen (1986). About playing and living in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO). A book about his personal experiences with conductors, soloists and colleagues. Marc Daniel van Biemen is First Violinist in the Concertgebouw Orchestra and member of the Alma Quartet. Publisher Thomas Rap, Amsterdam.
- 20-05-2025 Program published at this moment:
- Day 1 (Friday, 09-05-2025): Symphony No. 1, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam (RCO), Klaus Mäkelä.
- Day 2 (Saturday, 10-05-2025)
- Day 3 (Sunday, 11-05-2025)
- Day 4 (Monday, 12-05-2025): Symphony No. 4, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, Fabio Luisi (this day?)
- Day 5 (Tuesday, 13-05-2025)
- Day 6 (Wednesday, 14-05-2025)
- Day 7 (Thursday, 15-05-2025)
- Day 8 (Friday, 16-05-2025):
- Day 9 (Saturday, 17-05-2025)
- Day 10 (Sunday, 18-05-2025): Symphony No. 10, Berliner Philharmoniker.
- 20-05-2023: Passe-partout sales for the Mahler Festival 2025 will begin Tuesday, November 14, 2023 (14-11-2023).
- 20-05-2023: Tickets for individual concerts will go on sale from June 1, 2024 (01-06-2024).
- 19-05-2023: The exact program of the Mahler Festival 2025 will be announced in early November 2023.
- 19-05-2023: Composer and conductor Gustav Mahler had strong ties to The Concertgebouw and Amsterdam. To conductor Willem Mengelberg, he wrote that he had found “his second musical homeland” here. He conducted his own symphonies with the Concertgebouw Orchestra several times and was honored by the attention and enthusiasm the Amsterdam audience showed for him. Mengelberg organized the Mahler Festival on his 25th anniversary of conducting in 1920 as a tribute to the composer.
- 18-05-2023: During the ten-day festival, all of the composer’s symphonies and songs will be heard. The Concertgebouw Orchestra, led by its future chief conductor Klaus Mäkelä, will give the opening concert with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. The Berliner Philharmoniker conclude the festival with Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No. 10. Pianist Julius Drake, together with young singers, will perform Mahler’s complete song repertoire in the Recital Hall.
- 18-05-2023: From May 9 through May 18, 2025, The Royal Concertgebouw will host the third Mahler Festival in its history. 105 years after the first Mahler Festival, orchestras from around the world will gather in Amsterdam for a grand tribute to the composer.
- 17-05-2023: Confirmation that a Mahler Festival will be held in Amsterdam in 2025.
- 15-05-2023: Book presentation “Gustav Mahler – The Jewish Alienation” by Chaim den Heijer (1947). The Jewish dimension deepens empathy for Mahler and his music and makes his Jewish soul accessible. In this way, a more complete picture of Mahler as a person emerges. Publisher Amphora books. After the book presentation there are informal talks about an upcoming Mahler Festival in 2025 in Amsterdam.
- 14-03-2023: Mahler ringtone (listen and download): Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen – “Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht” (8s).
- 04-03-2023: Informal confirmation that a Mahler Festival Amsterdam will be held in Amsterdam in May 2025. Source is not disclosed. Mahler Festival Amsterdam 2025.
Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 2, Movement V (Im Tempo des Scherzos: Wild herausfahrend – Langsam – Allegro energico – Langsam). Brass Chorale. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) Amsterdam in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Daniele Gatti, 2016. RCO Brass: Trombones: Bart Claessens, Nico Schippers, Martin Schippers, Raymond Munnecom. Tuba: Perry Hoogendijk. Trumpets: Omar Tomasoni, Jacco Groenendijk, Bert Langenkamp.
- 1995: Mahler Festival Amsterdam 1995.
- 1920: Mahler Festival Amsterdam 1920.
- 1910: Gustav Mahler himself in the Netherlands.
- 1909: Gustav Mahler himself in the Netherlands.
- 1906: Gustav Mahler himself in the Netherlands.
- 1904: Gustav Mahler himself in the Netherlands.
- 1903: Gustav Mahler himself in the Netherlands.
Dutch commitment to Mahler
The Dutch commitment to Mahler began just over 100 years ago on the evening of June 9, 1902, when Mahler conducted the first performance of his Symphony No. 3 in the concert hall of Krefeld, a west German city near the Dutch border.
Among the audience caught up in the rapturous reception of the piece (the first big and unequivocal public success of Mahler’s composing career) were three Dutch musicians: Martin Heuckeroth, chief conductor in the Dutch city of Arnhem; Henri Viotta, director of The Hague Conservatory and founder of the city’s Residency Orchestra; and, most significantly, the 31-year-old Willem Mengelberg.
Mengelberg had been plucked from youthful obscurity in 1895 at the age of 24 to become chief conductor of Amsterdam’s still fairly young Concertgebouw Orchestra. He remained its director until 1945, spanning an amazing half-century. By 1899 his international reputation was already such that Richard Strauss dedicated his symphonic poem A Hero’s Life to him.
The Dutch response to the Krefeld performance was decisive. Heuckeroth programmed the first performance of Mahler’s Third outside Germany and Austria at his Arnhem Festival in 1903. Soon after, Mengelberg persuaded Mahler to travel to Amsterdam to conduct the Concertgebouw Orchestra and its associated choral forces in the same work.
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Used to having to work hard to bring other orchestras up to somewhere near the standards he expected in Vienna, Mahler raised his baton at the first rehearsal and was stunned at the splendid sound that greeted him. “It’s breathtaking,” he wrote afterwards. “The orchestra is excellent and has been very well prepared.” A children’s choir of 200 voices and a 330-strong women’s choir were exemplary.
Mahler wrote after the first performance: “Musical culture in this country is stupendous. These people really know how to listen!” His remark still holds good. Amsterdam is a city where the Concertgebouw (“Concert Building”) fills rapidly in response to a program of new music.
Three years later Mahler was back in Amsterdam to enjoy conducting “superbly prepared” performances of his Fifth Symphony (“such as was not bettered in Vienna”) and his early choral work Das klagende Lied, and to record a strong success with “first-class reviews” in the Flemish city of Antwerp in neighbouring Belgium.
By this time Mahler was ready to hail Mengelberg as his principal champion: “The only one to whom I feel I could entrust a work of mine with complete peace of mind.”
More about Gustav Mahler and Amsterdam
- Gustav Mahler and Alma Mahler
- This website (Dutch)
- Official festival website concertgebouw
- Official festival website concertgebouw (new tab)