Mahler in the Congo

Mahler in the Congo


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2010




Well, would you believe it? Our man has made it to the heart of Africa, featuring on a rather lovely postage stamp of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The portrait is by R B Kitaj, and you can read the background to it in Why Mahler? The original can be seen in the Vienna State Opera and there is a copy of it hanging in my hallway at home.

It’s nice to see Gustav Mahler getting his fifteen cents of fame – actually, one franc fifty, but that’s inflation – in a country without a symphony orchestra, where his music has surely never been played.

If it has, do let me know.  


Late Extra: I’ve just been told there is a Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra. It is made up mostly of ‘self-taught amateurs’ and it is rather short of instruments, but its heart is plainly in the right place. I can’t wait for its first Mahler concert. Here’s a link to a German film about the band.