Updated: A hammer, a symphony

Elisa von Brockdorff

In view of recent government announcements regarding indoor mass events, Mahler’s Sixth has been cancelled.

The Malta Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing Mahler’s ‘Tragic’ Sixth Symphony for the first time in Malta.

This mythical piece has been described as “the first nihilist work in the history of music”. Rendered famous for its use of the hammer, this instrument is now associated with the Mahler himself.  Indeed, when composing the work, he asked for a “brief and mighty, but dull in resonance and with a non-metallic character (like the fall of an axe).”

According to Mahler’s wife, the work is also prophetically autobiographical. The composer had revised the three original hammer blows to two – due to his superstitious beliefs. However, such did not spare him from events which ensued after completing the work – the death of his eldest daughter Maria Anna Mahler, his forced resignation from the Vienna Opera and the diagnosis of an eventually fatal heart condition.

Musically, the work was the composer’s first-four movement purely instrumental symphony since his First as he engages with the formal conventions of the genre. For the concert, the MPO will be under the baton of Dutch-Maltese conductor Lawrence Renes and guest-led by acclaimed Maltese violinist Carmine Lauri.

The concert will take place on Saturday 14 March at 6.00 pm at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.

Tickets can be acquired through www.showshappening.com or from the MCC’s box office. Patrons may benefit from a free shuttle service departing from the Phoenicia Hotel.