Leonard Bernstein – Little Drummer Boy: Essay on Mahler by Leonard Bernstein (1985)

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Wow!–I just finished watching “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Previously I had thought that I knew quite a bit about Gustav Mahler, but Leonard Bernstein showed me more.

What Bernstein does is show you–through biographical commentary and excerpts from Mahler’s music–just what it was that made this masterful composer and conductor so obsessed with Life and Death.

Yes, part of it was Mahler’s being born Jewish, and part was seeing so many of his brothers and sisters die so early in life. But Bernstein shows us how Mahler was, like most of us, striving to try to come to terms with life–to understand why death has to come and deprive us of the joys of life.

To give you an idea of how concrete, knowledgeable and specific this program is, Lenny takes a few minutes, using musical excerpts, to illustrate how there is a funeral march in each of Mahler’s nine symphonies. Continue reading