The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (230): In memory of Lord Sacks

… who loved Mahler, most of all Das Lied von der Erde.


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    • Perhaps during Mahler’s visit to Finland where he got on well with Gallen-Kallela but happened to dislike Sibelius who initially refused to join him for dinner in Mahler’s preferred restaurant “Gambrinus”?

      • I’ve read quite a lot on Mahler and didn’t get the impression that he actually disliked Sibelius. We know they had different approaches to composing a symphony. Descriptions of their encounter sounded more awkward than genuine dislike. They certainly had very different personalities. Mahler allegedly asked Sibelius what he would like for him (Mahler) to conduct from his (Sibelius’) orchestral output. Perhaps as a result of that, Mahler was scheduled to conduct the Violin Concerto in March of 1911 at Carnegie Hall, with Maud Powell, but had become fatally ill by that point. Theordore Spiering conducted many of those final concerts that Mahler had programmed. If there had been sufficient time, it would have been nice if Mahler and Sibelius could have compared and discussed their “Das Klagende Lied” and “Kullervo” Symphony. Those two works have much in common. Of course, since recordings didn’t really exist at that point (just crudely), they couldn’t really ‘cut to the chase’, so to speak.

      • I read that Sibelius, already 80 in WW II, used to fire his shotgun at Nazi planes when they flew over his country at night.
        Other than that he was a great composer, that’s all you need to know about his character.

    • Gallen Kallela met once Mahler and painted this portrait it’s at the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation in the middle of Finland. A place I would like to go after Ateneum at Helsinki. But this painting is less famous than the ones Gallen Kallela painted for Sibelius. I have to say that Gallen Kallela is my favorite painter.

  • In Britain far beyond the loss for our Jewish friends, Jonathan Sacks will be greatly missed. A wonderful tribute yesterday by the BBC Radio 4 Today team who replayed one of his many Thoughts for the Day where he always had something profound and interesting to say. Also wonderful and geuine tributes from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, who all got on so well as they do with the present Chief Rabbi. In losing Rabbi Jonathan, we have all lost a force for good in Britain, whether of any faith or none. Even better that he loved Mahler! May he rest in peace.

    • My late, saintly Catholic spiritual director said he always liked to read or hear anything Lord Sacks had to say; and that he represented the finest of timeless and universal Jewish wisdom.

  • Great man. The one time I encountered him in person was, in all places, at Auschwitz. November 2008: the wonderful Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ project, on this occasion attended by leading figures from religions within Britain. At the end of the day a shofar was played near one of the crematoria and it was Sacks who gave an address and prayer. I shall never forget his manner, passionately committed to communicating in the moment but also deeply inward and even otherworldly, eyes clasped shut as he focused on what needed to be conveyed.

  • He was well known and liked in the Jewish community in the United States also. He seemed to be able to bridge the different branches of Judaism in the United States and be liked and quoted by everybody.

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