San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas “Keeping Score: Mahler”

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The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas will present new episodes of their acclaimed Keeping Score television series on Friday, June 24, 2011 and Friday, July 1, 2011 at 10 p.m. on Eight exploring the life and music of Gustav Mahler.  In a year marking the centenary of both the death of Gustav Mahler and the birth of the San Francisco Symphony, the Orchestra’s Keeping Score project focuses on the enigmatic composer with two one-hour documentary-style episodes, new Mahler-related content at and a 13-part national radio series.  The Keeping Score project is a natural outgrowth of the San Francisco Symphony’s almost century-long commitment to make classical music more accessible and meaningful to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. 

“Gustav Mahler was a visionary musician,” said Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony.  “In his compositions he made reference to many styles, building his huge symphonies from materials abstracted from songs, dances and marches from many cultures. His symphonies, or worlds, as he called them – represent the many ways that people make music and why they make music.  In Keeping Score: Mahler, we walk in his footsteps, visit the places and sounds that influenced his life.”


“There is no better team right now to bring the music and life story of Gustav Mahler to a global audience than Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony, and SFS Media,” said John D. Goldman, President of the San Francisco Symphony.  “With MTT and the Orchestra firmly established among the leading interpreters of Mahler’s music, we hope that this collective passion for the works of Mahler, and our commitment to sharing music with the widest possible audience, helps inspire the next generation to appreciate and embrace some of the most powerful music ever written.  These programs will be a fitting capstone to the decade-long Mahler project that MTT and the SFS have undertaken, and we hope they serve as a lasting inspiration for audiences throughout the world.”

Keeping Score: Mahler presents two one-hour documentary-style episodes. The documentaries were shot on location in the Czech Republic, Austria, San Francisco and New York, and  reveal the life and music of this emotionally charged composer, providing viewers with an unprecedented journey through his music and the influences that shaped it. 

Episode One — “Gustav Mahler: Origins”  
The first of two episodes explores the roots of Gustav Mahler’s music. SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas journeys to rural Bohemia to rediscover the inspirations of Mahler’s music, and traces Mahler’s life through the premiere of his first symphony in 1888. It shocked the contemporary audience, but as MTT and the San Francisco Symphony reveal, on location and in performance, this ground-breaking symphony contains elements of everything else that Mahler composed.  Shot on location in the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and in performance in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

Episode Two —“Gustav Mahler: Legacy”
In part two of Keeping Score: Mahler, MTT examines Mahler’s creative growth, from the 1890s to his death at the age of 51 on May 18, 1911, including his symphonies, the Rückert songs and Das Lied von der Erde. The show charts Mahler’s mercurial career as a conductor, from the Vienna Opera to Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as his tempestuous relationship with his wife Alma. At Mahler’s simple grave in a Grinzing cemetery, MTT explains why Mahler has so profoundly affected his own life.  Shot on location in the Czech Republic, Austria, New York, and in performance in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.

Unlike any other orchestra initiative in scope or complexity, the national Keeping Score program provides innovative, thought-provoking classical music content via integrated multimedia including public television, public radio and interactive web content at, and materials, training, and lesson plans for teachers using Keeping Score content and media.More than six million viewers have tuned into the critically-acclaimed episodes of Keeping Score on PBS, with previous programs about composers Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Copland, Berlioz, Shostakovich, and Charles Ives.  The Keeping Score: Mahler television episodes, concert programs and online interactive contentis designed to engage, educate and entertain viewers of all musical backgrounds, from classical music enthusiasts to those experiencing Mahler’s compositions for the first time. 

Keeping Score: Mahler is part of the San Francisco Symphony’s commemoration of the centenary of Mahler’s death and completes its ten-year exploration of the composer’s music through its Grammy Award-winning Mahler recording cycle on SFS Media.  In May 2011, after two weeks of programs featuring the Mahler symphonies in San Francisco,  the Orchestra will embark on a three-week European tour performing Mahler’s works in Prague, Vienna, Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon.  MTT and the SFS will be in Prague on the 100th anniversary of

Mahler’s death (May 18) for commemorative celebrations followed by a four-concert Vienna residency performing the works of Mahler at the Konzerthaus.  The SFS is the only American orchestra invited as part of the city’s celebration of Mahler.  Keeping Score: Mahler will be screened in Prague and Vienna as part of the commemoration.

Media Contact:  Colleen O’Donnell Pierce
[email protected]
(602) 496-0579
(602) 478-3867 (cell)

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