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Sunday, February 10, 2013

CONCERTGEBOUW | Orchestra in NYC Feb. 13-14

The Concertgebouw in their home habitat in Amsterdam.
NYC, Feb. 10, 2013–We will be going to hear Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on Feb. 13 at Carnegie Hall.

The Concertgebouw is performing Mahler's First and Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2.

The Concertgebouw was judged the world's best orchestra by a panel of judges put together by Gramophone magazine in 2008. The New York Times asks: "Greatest orchestra in the world, or greatest orchestra ever?" The New Yorker says:
This world-renowned orchestra has the same qualities as a Rembrandt painting: commanding virtuosity and an unforgettably warm, rich palette.
My mother's grandfather, Charles Boissevain, when he was editor of the Algemeen Handelsblad, the leading Dutch paper of its era, led the campaign to build the Concertgebouw when there was nothing on the spot but a field of grass.

The Concertgebouw Orchestra was created in 1888. Charles Boissevain and his eldest son Charles E. H. Boissevain helped recruit as conductor William Mengelberg, who in turn became a huge fan of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Charles E. H. was on the Board for many years, excluding the years when his brother-in-law Han de Booy was a staff officer. 

The long, glorious and then sad story about Mengelberg–who has been described to me as the greatest conductor of the early 20th century–is told here:  Mahler and Mengelberg - www.boissevain.us/charlesboissevain/mahlerandmengelberg.html.

Mahler died in Vienna nearly 102 years ago, spending the last three years of his life in New York City, conducting the Metropolitan Opera - with its first opening night under his leadership on January 1, 1908 with Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde", followed by Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and Beethoven's "Fidelio". While Mahler had many fans in New York City, he also faced backbiting from the New York establishment. Arturo Toscanini was inappropriately matched with him at the Met for the 1908-09 season. Toscanini knew how to woo the critical establishment and went on to a half-century of success. Mahler meanwhile was delighted to get away from the Met and accepted an offer to conduct the New York Philharmonic.  Dogged by a heart infection, however, he left New York in April 1911 and died the next month in Vienna. Years later, Leonard Bernstein said "I am Mahler"–meaning that he felt a spiritual kinship–and he is buried with the score of Mahler's Fifth Symphony over his heart.