36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 259: Mahler 5 televised


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 259 — Mahler 5 televised
17-April-1972 (Montag–Mon.)


Roland Berger 1st horn VPO

Another pretty good day. Morning, organizing work—electronic music. German class, not bad. Horn lesson, not bad.

Best part.

Well, for the third time, I went in through the backstage entrance and got into the
orgel balkon for free, to see Bernstein and Mahler’s 5th. Today was even better because it was for television and the lighting was great. A few less people, and so I had a perfect full-front view. The playing wasn’t perhaps quite so good as yesterday, but it went well. I still don’t think he [Bernstein] was satisfied. I’ve learned somewhat from watching him—for more than one consecutive day.

He does things slightly different, sometimes, which means that the orchestra must watch or sometimes can be off. He took the
Adagietto, today, slightly faster. I didn’t like it as much. It didn’t send chills up my spine, like the other times. Sometimes the brass playing isn’t the greatest. I don’t sometimes care for the bassoon or oboes (tone) here. The horns made a few too many mistakes. But, generally it was very good. Roland Berger [first horn] is extremely good—plays a really good Wiener horn. I still don’t care for the “loud” brassiness of the [Viennese] horn, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player.

There was a pause after the concert. I met Roland Berger. Seems very friendly (and very big). I also got the impression that he aims for perfection when playing the horn. Great attitude. Too many are not bothered when they make mistakes, thus, they keep on making more.

Because it was a television concert, they replayed the 1st and 2nd
teiles [movements]. This time, I was in the fifth row. I could almost touch him. It was great to watch him from that close, but I prefer the “front” view. Previously, there was some technical difficulty, so Bernstein (who seemed a little angry) provided comic relief.

About his conducting, I like it because he feels the music. I think that I couldn’t help but really put-out for him if I was playing. He himself certainly puts out, and works to make the music.

Well, until the next installment.


Mahler 5 on TV. This is the third time that I am seeing Bernstein conduct the VPO in the Mahler, Symphony No. 5. The video from several days ago was from this exact day. Déjà vu! For the first taping, I am in the organ balcony, perhaps in a seat, and then I move to the fifth row orchestra to watch the rerecording of the 1st and 2nd movements. Although, I am critical of the “mistakes” that are in the performance, I suspect, that it was not as bad as my “youthful” criticism makes it out to be. I do think that Bernstein does not want any mistakes in a performance. I do remember one occurrence that might be the critical reason for my post today. There is a bass tuba solo, well exposed, at the end of one of the movements. The tuba performer kept on making the same lip-slur error in the passage and they had to stop and play it over several times. I felt bad for the performer. He must have been shaking in his boots.

Orchestral pros. Being a professional orchestral musician is perhaps one of the most difficult careers one can have. You must be an outstanding, accomplished musician and performer—AND—you cannot make mistakes. Your career depends on it. The accomplished performers in world-class orchestras deserve an immense amount of respect.

Sneaking in. Today, I don’t feel so bad about all of this “sneaking” in to concerts that I am doing. I am fairly certain that these were free concerts for the purposes of televising and audio recording. We just thought we were sneaking in. There were empty seats and I was also moving around to front-row center orchestra.

Bernstein’s conducting. Imagine, once again, being a young student and watching Bernstein’s artistry, from both the front organ-balcony view and close-up in row 5. It really must have been a thrill. As already stated, and as you can see in any video of Bernstein conducting, his style is always an emotional and physical immersion in the music. He does this to get the orchestra to respond in the same manner and it succeeds.

Roland Berger. As first horn of the VPO, Roland Berger is an extremely accomplished hornist, one of the world’s finest. Certainly on the Vienna horn. The opening photo frame shows Berger from the YouTube video on Day 258.

A great experience.


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