Mahler Celebrations And More

Long regarded as the premier interpreter of the songs of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Thomas Hampson will dedicate much of his summer and the upcoming 2010-11 season to performances of the Austrian composer’s works. The celebration begins with Hampson’s recital from Mahler’s birth-house in Kaliste, Czech Republic, on July 7 – the date of Mahler’s birth 150 years ago – that will be web-cast live on – and an evening concert from Kaliste with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Manfred Honeck, which the European Broadcasting Union will transmit live across Europe.  

Additional Mahler performances will follow throughout the summer – making more than 50 concerts over the course of the 2010-11 season – including Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen at the Zurich Opera with conductor Philippe Jordan; Rückert-Lieder with the Schleswig-Holstein Orchestra and Christoph Eschenbach at the Rheingau Music Festival and Schleswig-Holstein Festival; and Das Lied von der Erde with the NDR Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg, and Alan Gilbert on a four-city tour that includes the final concert of the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. Additional summer highlights include a gala concert plus a single performance four days later in Wagner’s Parsifal at the Vienna State Opera, in tribute to the company’s outgoing Intendant, Ioan Holender, and an operetta program with mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirschlager from Munich’s Odeonsplatz conducted by Mariss Jansons and broadcast live on European television. Detailed information about these events follows below.

The music of Gustav Mahler has been a major touchstone throughout Thomas Hampson’s career. Since hearing Mahler’s music for the first time when he was barely 20 on a car tape-deck – Hampson recalls having to pull his Toyota Celica over onto a freeway rest-stop so that he could pay full attention to the cassette recording of the composer’s First Symphony that he had borrowed from the local public library in Spokane – Hampson has sung, studied, researched, and record Ed Mahler’s music – most famously with Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic – with the greatest passion and unquestioned authority. It was through Mahler’s music that Hampson discovered the entire world of the German Romantic song literature, and an early Mahler recording for Teldec launched the baritone’s storied recording career. “I take Mahler’s music very seriously,” Hampson explains, “and it has had a profound impact on my life personally and as an artist. Mahler told us that all of life should be in a symphony, and his art subsequently reflects all of the trivia and tragedy in life simultaneously. His creative works and musical genius prepare as well as cajole, and force his listener to understand the time they are living in regardless of the century.”

In addition to dozens of Mahler concerts and recitals this summer and throughout 2010-11 – including performances next season with the Vienna Philharmonic and Mariss Jansons, Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, Eliahu Inbal and the Czech Philharmonic, and the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Antonio Pappano – Hampson will also record Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Wiener Virtuosen – a chamber group comprised of the principal players of the Vienna Philharmonic – for release in January 2011 on Deutsche Grammophon. Taking advantage of Hampson’s bountiful array of Mahler activities – and the fact that the centenary of Mahler’s death, on May 18, 1911, will add a second major date to the international Mahler calendar – a film crew will follow the baritone throughout the season for a documentary that will illuminate the life and personality of Mahler through Hampson’s performances and discussions of his music.