The Conductor
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The secret of Mahler's uniqueness was to combine craft with genius. As a result, performances of technical perfection and incomparable precision, as reliable as clockwork, became improvisations of breathless bliss under the intoxicating, igniting, and enrapturing force of his transfigured, inebriated look and his ever irresistible hand, now fiercely stirring, then tenderly appeasing.
(Hermann Bahr, Musikblaatter des Anbruch April 1920)
 


[Mahler] had a remarkable talent for clarifying the heroic with the same overwhelming force as a tender, spirited mood. Nothing was inconsequential for him; there was never a good-natured and sloppy laisser aller. His every nerve, his every muscle, was always tense. His slender figure was incomparably passionate, both absorbing and projecting back all the changing moods of the music...Most amazing in Mahler was his ability to feel so strongly and so unreservedly, and finally to exhaust himself so unconditionally, down to the last drop.
(Elsa Bienenfeld, Neues Wiener Journal May 19, 1911)
 


 
Mahler as Conductor
OTTO BOHLER, Gustav Mahler as Conductor
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Karen Painter, ed., Mahler and his World, Princeton University Press, 2002




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