A digital walking tour of Gustav Mahler’s New York

A digital walking tour of Gustav Mahler’s New York


norman lebrecht

April 25, 2020

There are grand revelations here, even for an experienced Mahlerian.

Click here.


  • Alphonse says:

    I cannot conceive of a more endlessly overrated composer. Neurotic, self-indulgent, supremely unhealthy music. And I cannot conceive of a more criminally underrated composer than the noble, magisterial, august Bruckner.

    • Larry D says:

      Does this have anything to do with your preferring “healthy” Catholics to those “unhealthy” Jews? That’s kind of how it comes across, Adolf—I mean Alphonse.

      • Alphonse says:

        I neither said nor implied anything of the sort, Larry. I do, however, suggest you seek psychological help. It sounds like you have a lot of issues you need to work through. Some heavy-duty self-examination is definitely in order on your part. It also sounds to me like you’re harboring some significant anti-Catholic sentiment. Lastly, your crass, tasteless ad hominem attack on me, in which you glibly liken me to that murderous tyrant, is as troubling as it is tasteless. I bid you good day, sir.

      • Larry D says:

        And I suggest you reexamine your use of coded adjectives “neurotic, self-indulgent, supremely unhealthy” which are normally used on anti Semitic websites or by such as Wagner. Perhaps you used them innocently, but please explain what “supremely unhealthy” music can possibly be? For that matter, how is Bruckner “criminally underrated”? It’s the first time I’ve heard that suggested, since I’ve seen many performances of his work by prominent conductors, but your glowing, cultist adjectives describing Buckner verge on the wacky.

        • We privatize your value says:

          One hundred years ago, one could call Bruckner “underrated”. But since Messrs. Furtwängler, Celibidache, Karajan, Klemperer, Walter, Solti, Knappertsbusch, Jochum, Rozhdestvensky, Schuricht, Haitink, Chailly, Inbal, Von Matacic, Giulini, Konwitschny, Blomstedt, Harnoncourt, and hundreds of others, have started rating him, Alph should not be so worried!

        • Steven Honigberg says:

          Sorry to step in gentlemen. Religious affiliations is a poor way to look at any composer. Both composers have earned their way into the public’s focus for a hundred plus years for their depth of imagination, incredible beauty and everlasting profundity on life in the manner they experienced it. As a performer I am always challenged and excited to perform either men’s works. They are both titans.

    • Alexander Tarak says:

      Boo !!!!!

    • Alexander Tarak says:

      Boooo…….once more.
      Overrated? I think not.
      To paraphrase an old beer advert: Mahler reaches the parts other composers cannot reach.
      Your loss, Alphonse.

  • Larry D says:

    Thanks for this. Although I’ve known much of this (the opium den being a big exception), it’s good to have all this information concentrated in one spot. I once worked in the building that replaced the Hotel Savoy, and would fantasize that I was occupying the same space as a lingering bit of Mahler’s ectoplasm. I didn’t examine the spatial coordinates too closely, as I didn’t want to be disabused of that possible intimacy!

  • Brian v says:

    Very interesting

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    He looks so different in these street photos, I have seen them before. In his official photos, he is one of the most interesting characters I have ever seen, one can see the genius in this man, even in his external appearance. He is not even one of my favourite composers, except in his slow movements. Then even when he was alive, the critics recognised the greatness of his slow movements.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I remember when I was in my late teens Mahler was my favourite composer along with Richard Wagner. Then came Bruckner, Messiaen and Boulez. These days I am interested again, but not to the extent I was interested in my late teens.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Life experience of the modern world is often an eroding solvent of taste, gradually diminishing an early receptivity.

  • Piano Lover says:

    Highly interesting-many thanks

  • Leo Samama says:

    I have the most beautiful memories of 115 Central Park West, having had the privilege to stay in that incredible building each time I visited New York, in the penthouse overlooking the park, Broadway until Time Square and enjoying the company of my hosts, the Sperry family. Next door, in the Dakota, lived Leonard Bernstein… With Mahler and Bernstein, these were indeed holy places in town!

  • Rob says:

    Hardly revelatory. Most of this is in Henry-Louis de La Grange’s work.

    • Larry D says:

      No one is claiming the information gathered here is “revelatory”, but the point is that the information is conveniently gathered in one place, with the addition of interviews, maps, and period photographs of the now vanished buildings Mahler knew contrasted with photographs of what is standing there today. I for one am grateful for the effort involved, but if you prefer to carp, carp away!

  • Larry says:

    Fantastic to see this! Thank you for sharing, Norman. It brought a smile to this old New Yorker.

  • JJC says:

    Very cool.

  • PaulD says:

    This is really well done. I do think Mahler insulted my ancestors after his visit to the Lower East Side.

  • John Kelly says:

    Very interesting and nicely produced. Some of these buildings remain albeit repurposed and of course many have been demolished, since preserving “historical buildings” is only a relatively recent phenomenon here in the USA. Carnegie Hall almost met its end of course and people I know who remember Pennsylvania Station describe it, even in its delapidated state as beyond Grand Central in its grandeur. The very sight of Carnegie Hall in this video led me to “Jonesing” for a time when live orchestral music is again available to us, played by the wonderful musicians who work so hard all over the world, in and out of orchestras. My memory went back to a recent concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall conducted by YNS, the Lohegrin Act I Prelude was incandescent – free bowing in the violins after the climax raising the ghost of Stokowski and the classic 1927 recording (look for it on Youtube, it will make the lockdown more tolerable, if only for 8 minutes)….

    • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

      ==[old] Pennsylvania Station….beyond Grand Central in its grandeur.

      The destruction of that 8 acre masterpiece in the early 1960s really kicked the Preservation movement into life. The station wasn’t there that long – it would have been being built while Mahler was in New York

  • Mr. Schwa says:

    I heard that Mahler is self-isolating.

  • What a wonderful trip back in time … almost like being there! This is utterly fascinating.

    Thank you, NY Philharmonic … and thank you, Norman, for sharing the link.

  • Wonderful! Very valuable the segment of the musicians who played with him.

  • BillOxford says:

    The commentary said that a season ticket at the Met in around 1905 cost $12,000. Online calculators estimate this would now be approximately $350,000. I love researching ‘lost’ buildings of the 19th and early 20th century, so the ‘before and after’ images were marvellous, if quite depressing; so many beautiful buildings lost in favour of anonymous concrete and glass.

  • fflambeau says:

    Fascinating. And what a tragedy that Penn Station was demolished. Perhaps more of Mahler, though and less of the hotels he visited and stayed in.

  • Diabolus non papa says:

    After taking the walking tour, I was lead to the NY Philharmonic archives to see what kind of repertory Mahler conducted in his seasons. Heavy, heavy doses of Wagner, Beethoven, R. Strauss and Smetana. Sprinklings of Elgar, Sibelius, his own 1st, 2nd, and 4th Symphonies, etc. Most interestingly he did Debussy’s Faun, Nocturnes, and Iberia – wouldn’t you like to eavesdrop on those concerts.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Ddidn’t Mahlerwhile in New York conduct Rachmaninoff as soloistl in one of his concrtos? Probably the third, which Rahmaninoff also played with Alfred Cortot conducting, and I think Cortot returned the favor by playing it himself at least once.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Gilbert Kaplan’s first recording of the “Resurretion” (with the LSO) included a supplemental CD with Mahler’s own piano-rolls, one of his songs with a modern soprano dubbed over his accompaniment, an experience which she described as eerie, and spoken memories of Mahler by musicians who had played under him.

    Gilbert Kaplan’s second recording of the “Resurrection”, with the Vienna Philharmonic at their request with Kaplan’s revised score based on Mahle’s own performing score with 500 corrections in Mahler’s hand, is one of the best Mahler recordings.
    It’s hard to believe that Boulez’s reading with the VPO around the same time, also for DG, is the same band.