Why Mahler? at Europe's biggest arts centre

Why Mahler? at Europe's biggest arts centre


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2010

London’s South Bank announced its 2010-2011 classical music season this morning, a season which contains no fewer than 26 Mahler performances and possibly more.

In and around these concerts, I shall be curating a series of events, interpretations, inspirations and provocations under the banner Why Mahler? – which is also the title of my forthcoming book on the composer and his intellectual legacy.

I can’t yet announce what’s in the series, but I can promise that it will not be nostalgic or retrospective. If Mahler is the biggest selling composer at the 21st century box-office, that must be because his music speaks to the issues of today. People go to Mahler seeking anything from the mysteries of the universe, to a focus of consolation for some intensely personal confusion or loss. Now why is that?

Why Mahler? will try to provide some answers, some further questions, something that relates the music we hear to the world we inhabit. The series will embrace art, politics, religion, science, communications and most other topics that dominate our daily headlines – including, not least, the idolatrous cult of celebrity.

More details in due course.



  • Jiri Stilec says:

    Dear Norman Lebrecht,
    we are looking forward to your comments and to your book Why Mahler.
    We are very proud that Mahler was born in our country!!!
    Jiri Stilec
    Mahler Society Czech Republic

  • Maria Etzel says:

    And to think that as from 1st March your articles will no longer be available on this site. How are we to learn about the enormous variety of subjects you cover every week if you are only going to write for The Strad? Is your decision really final?
    NL replies: As far as the Strad column goes, Maria, it’s final – and I’ll explain more in a few days. But the rest of my writing will still be accessible online.

  • Updates? I suppose we shall see…Good luck!
    @Jiri Stilec – We are very proud that Mahler was born in YOUR country also!!!