Doomed: Mahler’s Tragic 6th

Masterworks IV

Friday & Saturday, March 3 & 4 at 8:00 PM at Maryland Hall

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*Please note: this performance is 85 minutes long and does not have an intermission.



Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 6 in A minor “Tragic”


Join the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra for an evening of incredible music when Artistic Director and Conductor José-Luis Novo presents Gustav Mahler’s “Tragic” Symphony No. 6, a rarely performed piece. It’s a deeply emotional, moving piece you won’t want to miss. Here are a few reasons why:

This symphony is huge. The music looms large, dripping with emotion. The orchestra is huge as well. This performances requires 94 musicians on stage. For comparison, at Masterworks III, we had 73 musicians.

This symphony requires instruments not typically seen in an orchestra, most notably Mahler’s Box and Mahler’s Hammer. Mahler described the sound produced by the instrument to be “brief and mighty, but dull in resonance and with a non-metallic character — like the fall of an axe.” The three blows of the hammer in this piece represent cataclysmic moments in Mahler’s life: the death of his eldest daughter, his condition of a weakened heart (which eventually caused his death) and his ouster from the Vienna Opera. According to Alma Mahler, Mahler’s wife, Mahler had this to say about the hammer blows: “It is the hero, on whom fall three blows of fate, the last of which fells him as a tree is felled.”

Because of the logistics involved with extra musicians performing a long piece that requires special instruments, Doomed is rarely performed. In fact, this is the first time Artistic Director and Conductor Maestro José-Luis Novo will play this moving and beautiful music in Annapolis. Catch it March 3rd and 4th at Maryland Hall.


About the art:

Our background for Masterworks 4: Doomed – Mahler’s Tragic 6th, is a disturbing and deeply moving painting by Samuel Colman entitled “The Edge of Doom”. An oil on canvas created between 1836 and 1838, the painting depicts the ultimate disaster: the destruction of the world. Lightning was particularly suited for evoking the emotions of awe and terror associated with the Sublime notion of nature. Here, it strikes erratically, blasting classical buildings, carriages, paintings, and even Time (a figure with an hourglass and scythe) to create a central glowing void. All that survives is the memorial sculpture of William Shakespeare, then and now on view in London’s Westminster Abbey.

Inscribed lower center, on plinth: “The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And like the baseless fabric of a vision, Leave not a rack behind”. The text is from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, Act IV, Scene 1, lines 151-156.