Simon Rattle conducts Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand”


Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle

Rundfunkchor Berlin, MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Boys of the Staats- und Domchor Berlin

  • Antonio Lotti
    Crucifixus (00:05:06)

    Rundfunkchor Berlin, Simon Halsey Chorus Master

  • Thomas Tallis
    Spem in alium (40-part motet) (00:09:09)

    Rundfunkchor Berlin, Simon Halsey Chorus Master

  • Gustav Mahler
    Symphony No. 8 »Symphony of a Thousand« (01:28:56)

    Nathalie Stutzmann Contralto, Simon Halsey Chorus Master, Rundfunkchor Berlin, Howard Arman Chorus Master, MDR Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Boys of the Staats- und Domchor Berlin, Anna Prohaska Soprano, Kai-Uwe Jirka Chorus Master, Susan Bullock Soprano, Lilli Paasikivi Mezzo-Soprano, Johan Botha Tenor, Erika Sunnegårdh Soprano, John Relyea Bass, David Wilson-Johnson Baritone

  • free

    Sir Simon Rattle on Mahlers Symphony No. 8 (00:07:08)

Even in Gustav Mahler’s time, the Eighth Symphony was called the “Symphony of a Thousand”. The title may seem sensational, but not inappropriate. For no less than eight vocal soloists, two large mixed choirs, a boys’ choir, a large symphony orchestra, a separate brass ensemble and an organ are required for the performance.

But its monumental grandness is not only due to its instrumental and vocal forces, but equally because of its global textual basis. Starting with a medieval Pentecost hymn, and culminating in the closing scene of Goethe’s Faust, the symphony draws together fundamental philosophical ideas of Western history. 

The premiere in 1910, performed before the cultural elite of the time – the audience included Siegfried Wagner, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Bruno Walter, Stefan Zweig and Thomas Mann – was the most triumphant success in the life of Gustav Mahler. And the composer himself felt the symphony to be “the grandest thing I have done yet”, as he wrote to the conductor Willem Mengelberg. 

It was also Mengelberg who conducted the first performance with the Berliner Philharmoniker in May 1912. After another in 1928, it took almost half a century before the orchestra, under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, turned to the work again in 1975. Following another three performances, this is therefore only the fifth with the Berliner Philharmoniker since the Second World War – and the first with Sir Simon Rattle as conductor. 

As an introduction to the symphony, the Rundfunkchor Berlin sings two original Latin motest, including the legendary, 40-voice Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis.

musikfest berlinIn co-operation with the musikfest berlin 11


EMISir Simon Rattle appears by courtesy of EMI Classics.


Deutsche GrammophonAnna Prohaska and Nathalie Stutzmann appear by courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon.

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