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Music video number zwei

Beethoven, Mahler, and — Dudamel!

Gustavo Dudamel
  • Gustavo Dudamel

Mata Tigre - Change through Music in Venezuela: El Sistema FESNOJIV

How do we get to music video number zwei in our curated playlist? We started with Beethoven's Fifth and then we found out about Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic creating a Fifth virtual reality app.

From there it is only a small step to Dudamel conducting Mahler’s Fifth with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in HD from Paris earlier this year.

There we are. I believe that is only “two degrees of Beethoven’s Fifth”. Where will we end up if we go the full full six degrees? Who knows? It’s so exciting.

Why is it only a small step from Beethoven’s Fifth to Mahler’s? Aren’t there about a hundred years of music history between the two? Yes, almost. It’s 96 years to be more exact.

What’s the connection? We need only look so far as the opening figure on the trumpet in Mahler’s Fifth. Da-da-da- daaah. Sound familiar? It’s the same rhythmic figure as Beethoven’s Fifth. This same figure shows up throughout the first movement of Mahler’s Fifth. Mahler was obviously up to something.

Since very few videos have track markers, here are the titles and start times of each movement of the symphony.

  • First movement: Funeral March
  • Second movement: Moving stormily, with great vehemence (13:25)
  • Third movement: Not too fast. Strong (29:44)
  • Fourth movement: Adagietto (48:19)
  • Fifth movement: Fresh (59:27)

Mahler doesn’t go too far with the obvious innovations this symphony. The final movement is in a different key signature than the opening movement. Mahler wasn’t committed to the symphony being in any particular key.

Mahler - Symphony No 5 - Dudamel

The fourth movement is not only famous for its beauty, it is also unique in that it is only for the strings. I’m not sure such a section such as this exists in any other symphony. Mahler’s Fifth requires an enormous orchestra but for this one movement it is only strings. Mahler was composing before union wages set in.

The conductor in this video is Gustavo Dudamel and he is the Music and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was considered a frontrunner to take over the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra but signed an extension with L.A. through the 2021-22 season, thereby removing himself from the running.

Dudamel is also the Musical Director of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. The orchestra is the crown jewel of Venezuela’s El Sistema, of which Dudamel is also a product. I've included an hour long documentary on El Sistema.

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