A piece of Mahler’s I had never heard before

A piece of Mahler’s I had never heard before


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2017

I thought I knew them all, but last night Vasily Petrenko conducted the Royal Liverpool Phil in Mahler’s arrangement of Hugo Wolf’s prelude to his opera, Der Corregidor. I had never heard it played live before.

The back story is tragic. As fellow-students in Vienna the two composers shared a bed for several weeks, unable to afford a single. When Mahler became director of the opera, Wolf offered him Der Corregidor but was too unbalanced by mental illness to have a meaningful discussion. Mahler later staged the work after Wolf’s death.

The prelude is more Wolf than Mahler, and more Wagner than the two of them put together. A wave of Flying Dutchman comes out of a sea of Hispanic pastiche. There is plenty of colour in the prelude but it is bright and unyielding. Eight minutes takes a long time to pass.

The Phil followed up with a terrific Mahler 5. You can hear the concert Monday on Radio 3.



  • Robin Bloxsidge says:

    Marvellous peformance!

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    According to Mahler’s wife, Alma, Mahler had a low opinion of Wolf’s music. There may have been something personal in this dislike.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    IIIIIII think you might be confusing Wolf with Hans Pfitzner, whom Mahler did not personally care for. Mahler did make a very cutting remake about Wolf’s lieder after Wolf had passed away, but I don’t think it was personal. He genuinely did not like Wolf’s lieder. Mahler did have to ‘trick’ Hugo Wolf into leaving his office at the Royal Opera, but that was after Wolf had already ‘gone off the deep end’. Wolf was pressuring Mahler to perform “Corregidor”, or one of his other operas. They were friends in their earlier student days. Time and fortune were not kind to Hugo Wolf.

    All of this is touched upon in an exaggerated albeit fascinating way in the Ken Russell “Mahler” movie.