Opera Scotland

Lied von der Erde 1947Edinburgh International Festival

Read more about the opera Song of the Earth

One of the most historically important musical events of the first Edinburgh Festival was the presence of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, reunited for the occasion with its former maestro Bruno Walter, who had left Europe for the USA when life under the Nazis became intolerable.

The fact that the great conductor had been Mahler's assistant, for several years up to the composer's death in 1911, made it almost inevitable (at least with the benefit of hindsight) that a work by Mahler should be performed. The fact that the choice fell on Das Lied von der Erde meant that the opportunity would be provided for two leading British sngers to participate in this momentous occasion. Kathleen Ferrier's immortality as an interpreter follows in part from this event and the subsequent recording. That the involvement of Peter Pears is less well remembered must be due to two things - firstly that the importance of his career resulted primarily from his association with Benjamin Britten, and secondly that he did not feature on the recording of the work made afterwords - Julius Patzak did that.

The Scotsman of the following morning, Friday, 12 September, was understandably enthusiastic. ''There is no one now alive who is likely to give a more convincing performance of Das Lied von der Erde than Bruno Walter, and those who were present last night cannot have failed to sense the special appropriateness of the occasion. He conducted the work without score, and one felt that everything truly centred in him.

''It was good that two English singers of distinction had been found to take part in this performance in the original German. Kathleen Ferrier and Peter Pears both sang magnificently, and seemed to enter into the mood of Mahler's luxurious leave-taking with uncommon sympathy.''

The concert programme was opened by a performance of Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony.

Performance DatesLied von der Erde 1947

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Usher Hall | Edinburgh

11 Sep, 20.00

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