East German composer Friedrich Schenker wrote a piece about the Spanish Civil War of 1936 - and Gustav Mahler one about death.
The Spanish Civil War is a cause in which leftist activists worldwide were active. The musical point of departure in Schenker's work is a political song by Paul Dessau about a battle in that conflict. Schenker's composition premiered in 1981 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. When commissioning the work, the State Committee of Radio in the German Democratic Republic specified that it incorporate workers' songs be in an optimistic, catchy vein.
In Bonn, home of the Beethovenfest, where the Israel Philharmonic orchestra gave a guest performance this autumn under the direction of its music director for life, Zubin Mehta. On the program: Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony. After finishing his Symphony No. 8, Mahler superstitiously wrote works in different genres, wary of the number nine: with Beethoven, Bruckner and Schubert having each written only nine symphonies, Mahler dreaded the ominous number. Many have in fact heard premonitions of death in Mahler's Ninth, the standout feature of which is the very slow fading away into oblivion at the end.
Fanal Spanien (Spanish Signal) 1936 (Homage to Paul Dessau, 1978)
West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne
Tito Ceccherini, conductor
Recorded by West German Radio, Cologne (DW) in the Cologne Philharmonie on May 8, 2015
Symphony No. 9, 3rd and 4th movements
Israel Philharmonic orchestra
Zubin Mehta, conductor
Recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn, on September 5, 2015