Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Recreates Infamous 1910 Meeting of Mahler and Freud in Analyze This, Nov. 5-6

Music Director Marin Alsop commences 2010-2011 Off the Cuff series with symphonic play illustrating the meeting of a creative genius and intelligent mind

Music Director Marin Alsop teams up with writer and stage director Didi Balle in co-creation Analyze This: Mahler and Freud to be performed on Friday, November 5 at 8:15 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Saturday, November 6 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. In Analyze This, actors Richard Pilcher and Tony Tsendeas and mezzo-soprano Kristina Lewis will reenact the 1910 meeting between Gustav Mahler and famous psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud as Maestra Alsop shares historical content and interesting little-known facts, interspersed with selections from Mahler’s most famous works. The BSO’s Off the Cuff series offers a fresh take on classical music by exploring the lives of the composers, making the performances fun and engaging for music enthusiasts of any level. After two successful seasons at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the series begins its premiere season at the Music Center at Strathmore in 2010-2011.

In this program, Maestra Alsop dissects this solitary and compelling meeting of equals in a riveting performance in a similar vein to 2008’s CSI: Beethoven. She provides guidance for an in-depth understanding of selected Mahler works with an accompanying story and the history behind the music. Professional actors Richard Pilcher (Mahler), Tony Tsendeas (Dr. Sigmund Freud) and Kristina Lewis (Alma Mahler), help spin the tale.

Maestro Mahler deemed a meeting with Freud of absolute necessity. A crippling fear that his considerably younger wife, the vivacious Alma, would leave him for the ardent architect Walter Gropius, compelled him to seek help. Mahler, a man of insurmountable genius passionately loved his wife, though found it difficult to show his ardor. The death of Mahler’s eldest daughter strained his relationship with Alma, who found herself depressed in a marriage to a man with a meticulous and difficult personality.

Mahler’s wife’s unconsummated affair became known with a “Freudian slip” by suitor Gropius. In despair, Mahler requested that Freud meet and analyze Mahler’s situation and past, hoping to provide some insight and release to the Maestro. Mahler’s fears of abandonment were traced back to a childhood of poverty, violence and death. His mother, a petite, crippled woman in a loveless marriage, suffered constant abuse in witness of Mahler. Of the 14 children she bore, seven died before Mahler reached the age of 19. One beloved younger brother died in Mahler’s arms.

Mahler’s obsession with death not only fueled his terror of abandonment but also haunted his daily life and fashioned itself in his works. After his daughter’s death, Mahler made a connection of his music with death. The three hammer blows in the final movement of his Sixth Symphony foreshadowed three unfortunate events in his life: the death of his daughter, his forced resignation as Director of the Vienna Court Opera and his own imminent death. He feared for himself the fate that befell past composers, such as Beethoven, a man whom Mahler considered a father figure and himself a prodigy of. Like Beethoven, Mahler died before being able to complete his tenth symphony.


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