The Kennedy Center

Christoph Eschenbach

National Symphony Orchestra: Mahler's Second Symphony

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - Saturday, June 3, 2017

Select dates for the concerts below feature ForeWords and/or AfterWords discussions! National Symphony Orchestra

Christoph Eschenbach conducts Mahler's transformative "Resurrection" Symphony featuring the return of contralto Nathalie Stutzmann, the NSO debut of soprano Golda Schultz, and The Washington Chorus.

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Mahler was inspired by metaphysics, existentialism, the afterlife, and the meaning of life and death. These concepts paint the somber colors of his Second Symphony, known as the “Resurrection” Symphony, although Mahler never gave it a formal title. In one of his final programs as the music director of the NSO, Christoph Eschenbach conducts this complex, deeply moving work of symphonic art, joined by returning contralto Nathalie Stutzmann, soprano Golda Schultz in her NSO debut, and The Washington Chorus.

Depicting redemption and resurrection in dramatic orchestration, this retrospective masterpiece includes rich song lyrics, with some written entirely by Mahler himself. In fact, Mahler was unsure of what lyrics to use in his finale when inspiration struck at a fellow composer’s funeral. The choirboys sang Klopstock’s “Resurrection Hymn” and Mahler used portions of the ode to create his final song. Although subject to less-than-flattering criticism after its premiere, Mahler’s Second Symphony gained popularity decades later, and contains some of its composer's most inspired moments.

This performance continues the NSO’s multi-season Mahler Explored series, which began under Eschenbach’s direction in the 2014–2015 season. According to Eschenbach, “[Mahler’s] symphonies are the biggest, longest symphonies that used everything possible…He’s certainly the greatest symphonist. His symphonies are masterpieces in composition, sheer craftsmanship. Everything is clear with Mahler.”

Performance Timing: Approximately 80 minutes, with no intermission.


Beginning at 6:45 p.m. before the following performance:
Saturday, June 3
With Anna Celenza, T.E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University

Take a journey into the fascinating stories behind the music led by knowledgeable and engaging artists and scholars! Look for even more of these offerings throughout the season; each ForeWords begins at 6:45 p.m. (the Concert Hall doors open 15 minutes prior), lasts 30 minutes, and is free and open to the public.