Not to be disagreeable, but didn't Mahler conduct his own premiers all
around Europe? Munich, Cologne, Budapest, Prague?
As for Mahler-Krankheit in America, I remember a group of friends took the
train from Boston down to New York to hear Barbirolli conduct the Ninth, in
maybe 1962. I myself heard Bernstein do the Fifth in the same timeframe.
And in 1958/59 the BSO presented the Second under Richard Burgin. Even
Koussevitzky dabbled in Mahler.
On Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 12:42 PM, Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> This is only somewhat accurate.
> During his lifetime, he was performed in Holland but not so much elsewhere.
> In the early 1950s, when I caught the music disease, Mahler was completely
> declassee in NY and in Philadelphia, where I went to college. The music
> faculty hated him uniformly- except for Alexander Ringer, who was Dutch. I
> was known as "that guy who liked Mahler" even among those outside the music
> It was Mitropoulos, as much as Walter, followed by Bernstein, who brought
> him into the U.S. mainstream, at least in NY. Stokowski's Mahler 8th in
> 1950 (?) got lots of people excited but was a bit before my time. It shows
> up in a memoir of an author and a painter that I'm now reading, of how
> important this event was at the time. Szell came with the Cleveland to
> Carnegie Hall with a "Das Lied," maybe 1963 or 4, that was a blueprint but
> that missed the greater depths of the work. Eventually, he got it. So did
> others who jumped onto the orchestrawagon.
> Part of the virulence against Mahler's music in the 1950's-early 1960s came
> from the musical far left who, I felt, couldn't tolerate the direct and
> enormous impact those susceptible to his music experienced. Part was from
> the time required to listen- to some, endure. Some was from composers with
> press access who thought he took up so much concert time that other, newer
> works of all kinds couldn't be accommodated.
> This attitude died hard. I was the Philharmonic's first sound archivist.
> When the content of the first records for the first NY Philharmonic
> Radiothon were being considered, 1976 maybe?, I suggested the Mahler 5 with
> Mitropoulos. The finale especially crackles with excitement I've never
> heard replicated. At the end, the balcony of Carngie Hall was swaying from
> the rhythmical foot-pounding, enormous applause and yelling. I went twice.
> It was originally rejected by some of the older hands in the front office
> but finally accepted by those way above my pay grade. Getting this out is
> among the proudest accomplishments of my life.
> From 1959 through about 1970, I was an active record and, to a lesser
> degree, music critic in NYC. I knew many of the participants on the music
> scene at the time and have vivid memories of these Mahler battles.
> We won.
> Steve Smolian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 11:33 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> Mahler was FAMOUS, well-documented and well-liked in his time. He fell out
> of favor among anti-semitic Europeans for a while (mainly the Nazi era, and
> the post-WWII devastation, less than 20
> years) but his works were still being played in the US and elsewhere (by
> Bruno Walter and other people who knew Mahler first-hand, among others).
> fame was regained and enhanced in the hi-fi/stereo age through a series of
> new recordings and then "rediscoveries" of various works. To compare Mahler
> to someone like Robert Johnson, for instance, is inaccurate. Mahler was
> established, liked, had patrons and was able to compose and conduct in
> relative comfort during a very productive musical life. He was a good
> and famous enough conductor to have steady gigs with high-profile
> through his adult life. His music was played and enjoyed in its time and
> known in the world of performed classical music (and was known well enough
> to be specifically banned by Nazis).
> Johnson and other blues-cult-discovery artists were almost unknown in their
> time, at best enjoying regional success with one or two records.
> Aaron makes a good point about popularity and also that the "Canon" always
> needs refreshing, but perspective is important. Robert Johnson (or Skip
> James or Son House, etc) were fringe figures in their time, who either died
> young and poor or ended up unable to make a living playing music in most of
> their adulthood. Their importance is not to their contemporary time, it is
> to later times. Robert Johnson is not important to 1930s blues or 1930s
> music or indeed 1930s culture, simply because too few people heard him or
> knew about him. However, he is very important to 1960s blues and rock and
> thus to 1960s and subsequent pop culture. There's one sticky wicket in my
> argument -- Son House.
> Although he enjoyed little more than regional success in his prime, he
> taught and/or influenced people like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf who did
> enjoy wider than regional success in their time (mainly because mass-media
> was better developed and they moved to urban centers with better
> communications infrastructure) and were able to make a living (and have
> relatively long careers) as musicians. Both men credited Son House as a
> teacher, yet even while he was being credited, House was living anonymously
> as a laborer in Rochester NY nursing a bad drinking problem. His "rebirth"
> was due to being "rediscovered" by white blues collector-cultists. House
> also likely taught Robert Johnson a good many licks, but House himself
> couldn't say exactly where or how Johnson evolved from a clumsy kid jamming
> with and being "cut" by House and Willie Brown to the young man who
> later and played rings around all comers. This is where the "Crossroads"
> devil-deal story arose, but it's more likely that Johnson holed up
> with a sympathetic woman feeding and housing him and practiced his playing
> until he was the best around, honing an in-born knack for music. Let's be
> honest and say that many of the older blues guys played in a "primative"
> manner to say the least, probably because they were more interested in
> next drink or their next bedmate than their next hours-long practice
> session. That's not to say the end result, at least in their recordings,
> isn't entertaining and compelling, but Johnson stands out for his musical
> skill (which is probably what caught the ear of other
> musically-skilled/aware people like John Hammond and Eric Clapton).
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 10:52 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> > Indeed. Like Mahler!
> > Steve Smolian
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> > [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Aaron Levinson
> > Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 10:36 AM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> > For another perspective, I don't think it's entirely accurate to suggest
> > that later generations "distort" history by highlighting an otherwise
> > neglected or overlooked figure. In any golden age when so much talent is
> > concentrated in a field some figures resonate and become popular while
> > others do not. To suggest that popularity is the sole yardstick (or
> > contemporary acclaim) leaves a lot of interesting people standing on the
> > sidelines.
> > Sometimes it does take a later generation to shine a little light into
> > corners and discover some one who may have eluded attention in the
> > age.
> > AA
> > Sent from my iPhone
> >> On Sep 22, 2014, at 9:44 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> >> Hi Mike:
> >> In fairness to Petrusich, she addresses the issue of obscure Paramount
> > other blues sides being hyped up through the "blues mafia" and associated
> > reissuers, so they take on unwarranted prominence in the cultural
> > And, this comes at the expense of blues records that actually WERE
> > and sold thousands of copies when they were new and different (Bessie
> > Lonnie Smith, others). One of the modern reissuers calls Skip James a
> > "freak" who couldn't get a Victor or ARC contract.
> >> I think part of this is the same thing driving Avakian and
> > jazz reissues in the late 40s and early 50s, plus the Harry Smith
> > -- each new generation collectors (generally but not always social
> > and people not of the mainstream cultural tastes or norms) has to
> > some "neglected gold" and create a fetish around it. There's also an
> > underlying ecomic element, especially with the blues records, in fact one
> > could call it hucksterism intended to keep prices high and this maintain
> > collection values. This is much more pronounced in modern times and with
> > blues records vs "jass" records in earlier times, although collectors
> > John Tefteller and Richard Nevins generally reissue at reasonable prices
> > records for which they've paid mega-bux. In any case, it's the age-old
> > of history -- each succeding generation distorts the past context and
> > usually the past facts to suit its own perspectives, tastes and
> > Petrusich also touches on this, but on scratches the surface of the
> >> Overall, I found her book to be entertaining enough to read through
> > quickly, but lightweight in authority and very short on new facts or
> > perspectives. The fact that she really digs the music is a plus as far as
> > readability, but not as far as adding anything new to the facts or
> > conversation. As always when he's involved, Joe Bussard entertained me
> > most. He is a rare bird anyway, but super-rare in that he's an extrovert
> > a collector-world of introverts. I'm sure other 78 collector-cultists
> > the attention Joe gets, but they aren't nearly as interesting so they
> > shouldn't be surprised.
> >> -- Tom Fine
> >> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
> >> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> >> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 8:49 AM
> >> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> >>> I kept on expecting Alan Funt to appear.
> >>> If this guy had recorded on Paramount -- especially if they had put
> >>> this 15 minute piece out on a set of 2-78s, then Amanda Petrusich's
> >>> cult of collectors would be going apesh-t over it and fighting to bid
> >>> tens of thousands of dollars on it. I'm unimpressed with this and am
> >>> unimpressed with most of what her cult is overbidding for.
> >>> (Did you really listen to ALL 15 minutes of that crap????)
> >>> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]
> >>> ------- Original Message --------
> >>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> >>> From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> Date: Sun, September 21, 2014 7:56 am
> >>> To: [log in to unmask]
> >>> Let's be clear, this is the "artiste" discussed in the essay:
> >>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC6VjHYjXEM
> >>> If 15 minutes of the same 3 chords with often out of tune humming
> >>> along is your thing, then have at it. Many people play acoustic
> >>> guitar into a portable home recorder. Very few of those recordings
> >>> are worth hearing. Almost none of them are worth canonized as
> >>> "undiscovered gold."
> >>> I understand the frustration with modern commercialized popular
> >>> music, but the modern impulse (often by younger writers with little
> >>> historical perspective, writers "born digital" and raised on digital
> >>> pop music glop) to "discover" performers from what is glorified as a
> >>> "wonderful past," many of whom don't really deserve to be canonized,
> >>> is annoying. It seems to be an academic, navel-gazing pursuit.
> >>> And, it smacks of ignorance, of not listening to enough
> >>> commercially-released music from the same time periods. That sort of
> >>> listening will often reveal that there were many excellent examples
> >>> in the selected genre, musicians who could actually play and thus
> >>> make commercially viable recordings.
> >>> -- Tom Fine
> >>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "WS" <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> >>> Sent: Friday, September 19, 2014 6:35 PM
> >>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Records Ruin the Landscape
> >>>> The link below is an excerpt (published in WIRE magazine) from David
> >>>> Grubb's upcoming book called "Records Ruin The Landscape".
> >>>> I thought it might be of interest to some ARSCLIST members, as it
> >>>> explores the implications of recorded material from an earlier era
> >>>> that only finds an audience much later than it was created.
> >>>> http://www.thewire.co.uk/in-writing/book-extracts/read_extract-from-
> >>>> david-gr
> >>>> ubbs_records-ruin-the-landscape