The mail brought a copy of Mahler's Concerts, a new book by Knud Martner. It's a scrupulously annotated listing of every concert that Mahler participated in or conducted over the course of his career, from Iglau to New York. The publisher is the Kaplan Foundation, which earlier presented such delightfully obsessive tomes as The Mahler Album — every known photograph and drawing of the man — and the Mahler Discography (now a website). Looking at the listing for Mahler's final concert, with the New York Philharmonic on Feb. 21, 1911, I was seized with a desire to hear the last number on the program: Marco Enrico Bossi's Intermezzi goldoniani. With what music did the musician Mahler bid farewell? As it turns out, with this brisk example of incipient neoclassicism:
From Serenata Italiana, I Musici, Fonè Records 063.
The image above comes from the New York Times of Feb. 21. Underneath the ghastly, ageless headlines — "Shot Wife to Death, Then Drank Poison," etc. — you find this motley list of entertainments, with Mahler's final concert at the bottom:
Sentimentalists might wish that Mahler had gone out with the Liebestod of Tristan or some other über-Romantic cry from the heart. But fate had other ideas in store. And it's fitting to be reminded that Mahler did, after all, live in the modern world, with its random violence and myriad distractions. What will it be tonight, the motor-boat show or Gustav Mahler?