The Berlin Philharmonic At Carnegie Hall Simon Rattle leads a performance of Mahler's immense and searching Second Symphony.

Classics in Concert

The Berlin Philharmonic At Carnegie HallWQXR-APM

Several years after he wrote his massive and existentially searching Second Symphony, Gustav Mahler withdrew the three separate sets of notes he had issued about it, on the grounds that the music should be able to stand on its own, its meaning instantly clear. And the poetry Mahler assigned to the chorus and vocal soloists in this sprawling work is incisive and illuminating. As Mahler wrote in his text for the concluding movement, "Sterben werd' ich, um zu leben!" (I will die, that I might live!).

The Symphony No. 2, later dubbed the "Resurrection" Symphony, is a work for which the Berlin Philharmonic has a particular and special affinity. Mahler himself led the ensemble's first performance of it in 1895. Moreover, it was a performance of this very piece that the the Berlin Philharmonic's chief conductor, Simon Rattle, attended at age 12 that provided the propulsive force for his entire career; after attending that concert, Rattle decided he wanted to be a conductor when he grew up.

While the Mahler Second is a piece that comprises a fundamental part of the orchestra's DNA, the orchestra playing this performance at Carnegie Hall represents a new generation of Berlin-based Mahlerians. As of last year, the average age of the Berlin Philharmonic musicians is now 38, and nearly half of its players are not German.

Rattle juxtaposes this central work in the Berlin Philharmonic's repertoire with three pieces for chorus and orchestra by Mahler's exact contemporary and one-time close friend, Hugo Wolf. Unfortunately, as Wolf's mental health declined over time, their relationship corroded.

Born in 1860, Wolf became a master of writing intimate lieder, but in this program we hear three choral works in which he explored painting on a much larger canvas. Wolf desperately wanted to become known as an operatic composer; the aria "Frühlingschor" is from Manuel Venegas, the opera Wolf was working on before his life unspooled completely. The Westminster Symphonic Choir will also perform expanded versions of Wolf's songs "Elfenlied" (Elf Song) and "Der Feuerreiter" (The Fire Rider).


  • Berliner Philharmoniker
    Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director and Conductor
  • Camilla Tilling, Soprano
  • Bernarda Fink, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir
    Joe Miller, Conductor


  • WOLF "Frühlingschor" from Manuel Venegas
  • WOLF "Elfenlied"
  • WOLF "Der Feuerreiter"
  • MAHLER Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection"
[+] read more[-] less

More From Classical

Penguin Cafe performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 2, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe folds in sounds from around the world and throughout music history — Africa, Kraftwerk, Brazil and Franz Schubert.

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir revised her piece Aura especially for The Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. David Holechek hide caption

toggle caption David Holechek

All Songs TV

Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Volcanic Transmissions

As members of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet bow their vibraphones, brush their gongs and message their bass drums, the composer's evocative music oozes from blackness.

Ludovico Einaudi, performing live for KCRW. Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW hide caption

toggle caption Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW

Favorite Sessions

Ludovico Einaudi, 'Petricor' (Live)


Watch the pianist and composer, joined by a full band, in a stunning live performance for KCRW.

Opera singer Joyce DiDonato created this video to go with her new album, In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. Warner Classics hide caption

toggle caption Warner Classics


In Chaotic Times, A Singer's Plea For Freedom

Opera star Joyce DiDonato does more than sing — she lends her voice to social causes. Watch her new video, a haunting depiction of a woman trapped in conflict.

Gustavo Dudamel led the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra to open the new season of concerts at Carnegie Hall Thursday, Oct. 6. Chris Lee/Carnegie Hall hide caption

toggle caption Chris Lee/Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall Live

Gustavo Dudamel Opens Carnegie Hall Season With 'The Rite Of Spring'

WQXR radio

The charismatic conductor first heard Stravinsky's rambunctious music when he was just 8. Watch him lead the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela live on Thursday night.

A still from Maya Beiser's "Air" video. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

First Watch: Maya Beiser, 'Air'

In a new video, the cellist plays with time and memory, turning back the clock to when she first heard J.S. Bach's music on a scratchy old LP. It remains, she says, a timeless lodestar for her art.

Yuja Wang played a demanding program at Carnegie Hall, topped by four encores. Ebru Yildiz/for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ebru Yildiz/for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

Yuja Wang Plays Carnegie Hall

WQXR radio

Hear one of today's most charismatic pianists perform music with deep psychological — and physical — dimensions by Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms.

Yuja Wang Plays Carnegie Hall

Audio is no longer available

Conductor Mariss Jansons led the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall Wednesday in Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, "Leningrad." AJ Wilhelm for NPR hide caption

toggle caption AJ Wilhelm for NPR

Carnegie Hall Live

The 'Leningrad' Symphony At Carnegie Hall

WQXR radio

Dmitri Shostakovich's powerful Seventh Symphony was written during the devastating World War II siege of Leningrad. Hear Mariss Jansons lead the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The 'Leningrad' Symphony At Carnegie Hall

  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top