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NZSO to perform Mahler’s magnificent Seventh Symphony

23 October 2018

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra returns to classical giant Gustav Mahler in November when it will perform his inventive and exciting Symphony No. 7 in Wellington and Auckland.

The 80-minute-long masterpiece is admired by orchestras and audiences alike for its five distinct movements. More than 100 NZSO musicians will perform on stage playing variety of instruments, including guitar and mandolin for the haunting Nachtmusik II (Night Music) movement.

Mahler 7 continues NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart’s critically-acclaimed Masterworks series. Since the series began in 2016, Maestro de Waart has featured several of Mahler’s works. Earlier this year he conducted Symphony No. 5 and in 2019 will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 Resurrection, which requires more than 100 players, two singers and two choirs.

Maestro de Waart says Symphony No. 7 is possibly the hardest of Mahler’s symphonies for any orchestra to play. “But it is marvellous if it is played well. It is a great symphony and I look forward to it.”

“Of all Mahler's symphonies, the Seventh is the most enigmatic and in its musical language the most radical and forward-looking,” says British music writer Andrew Clements.

Mahler earned his living chiefly as a conductor and did most of his composing each summer in a studio on the banks of Austria’s Lake Wörthersee. He completed the two Nachtmusik movements of Symphony No. 7 in the summer of 1904 while putting the finishing touches on his Sixth Symphony.

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When Mahler returned in 1905 to continue work on the Seventh he was afflicted with writer’s block. He tried to stimulate his creative faculties by tramping in the mountains but failed and was on the verge of despair. The breakthrough came while Mahler was preparing to row across the lake. “At the first stroke of the oars, I hit upon the theme,” he said in a letter to his wife Alma.

The Nachtmusik movements earned the symphony the nickname “The Song of the Night”. It will also be a night to remember in Wellington and Auckland with the NZSO.


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