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The Eighth: Mahler and the World in 1910
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The world premiere of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Munich in 1910 was the artistic breakthrough for which the composer had yearned all his adult life, filling Munich’s huge Neue Musik-Festhalle on two successive evenings, to tumultuous applause. Stephen Johnson recounts its far-reaching effect on composers, conductors and writers of the time – Berg and Schoenberg, the teenage Korngold, Bruno Walter and Klemperer, and the writers Zweig and Mann (the character of Gustav von Aschenbach in Mann’s Death in Venice was partly based on the impression Mahler made on him in 1910). Johnson’s story of the work, and of the fate of the man who created it, makes for the most absorbing reading.