Commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. First performance June 11th 2020, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
‘Mahler’s Letters’ (2020) for choir is inspired by the letters of the composer, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Often portraying romantic figures for music as a form of nature, his dramatic descriptions of the scenery that inspired him and his life at large, Mahler’s letters are strikingly poetic and revealing. His letters have had an important impact upon the reception of his music and our understanding of him personally; he exclusively wrote music and letters and, therefore, there are no essays, memoirs, or manifestos to call upon. Mahler’s correspondence is prolific and has been released, published and translated into multiple volumes, which is unusual as many other composers have often benefitted from a uniform edition.
‘Mahler’s Letters’ is a setting of four poems that I have written for this work, which act as fictitious letters constructed from and inspired by the ideas, thoughts and language in Mahler’s correspondence. The poems deal with significant themes in art and particularly pertinent topics within Mahler’s music, life and his letters themselves. The poems that make up the four movements of ‘Mahler’s Letters’ are each addressed to a nameless addressee, ‘Dear You’, as they utilise a myriad of the letters that Mahler wrote to many different recipients including his wife, Alma, as well as his friends, colleagues, and critics. ‘Mahler’s Letters’ is, therefore, a reflective choral work concerned with some of the universal aspects of art and life itself; Nature, Love, Music, and, alongside religion, Death.©G.E.M.2020