Polar Night Romantic Music

Mahler and Schubert

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The endlessly beautiful Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 meets the powerful theme of life and death from Schubert. This will be a particularly evocative evening in the Tromsø Cathedral.

Can death be beautiful? This question is often asked in the arts in various ways. And Franz Schubert provides the answer so clearly in his genuinely beautiful masterpiece Death and the Maiden.

Schubert composed this work in 1824 after suffering a serious illness, becoming extremely poor and realizing that he was going to die. Death and the Maiden, or the String Quartet no. 14 in D minor, is regarded as one of the pillars of the chamber music repertoire.

It has always been very popular and has been used in a many films and TV shows. The quartet also inspired Ariel Dorfman’s 1991 play Death and the Maiden, which was adapted for film by Roman Polanski a few years later.

Schubert’s masterpiece was also played during Fridtjof Nansen’s state funeral in 1930 as his family requested music instead of speeches.

king. The Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 has reached a huge audience through films (such as Death in Venice), and Leonard Bernstein conducted it during the funeral mass for Robert F. Kennedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan on 8 June 1968.

However, Mahler was not so enthusiastic about the reception the work received in its time. After its premiere, he is reported to have said: “Nobody understood. I wish I could perform it fifty years after my death.”

More than a century later, our chamber orchestra is performing the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in the wonderful Tromsø Cathedral – at the start of the Polar Night.