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The Eighth: Mahler and the World in 1910

Stephen Johnson

The compelling story of Mahler’s titanic Eighth Symphony.

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‘Thrilling.’ John Banville, Guardian

The Eighth Symphony was going to be different from anything Mahler had ever done before: it would speak in different tones, and of a different kind of experience. The world premiere in Munich in the summer of 1910 was the artistic breakthrough for which the composer had yearned all his adult life.

Stephen Johnson recounts the symphony’s far-reaching effect on composers, conductors and writers of the time. Placing Mahler within his world, The Eighth reassesses Mahler’s work in the context of the prevailing thought of his age, but also against the backdrop of that tumultuous summer, when Mahler worked desperately on his Tenth Symphony, was betrayed by his wife, and consulted Sigmund Freud. It is a story like no other.

Critic Reviews

Johnson [is] one of the finest contemporary musicologists. . . [A] magnificent, strongly argued and yet wonderfully subtle study.

John Banville, Guardian
Critic Reviews

Leads us through all the complexities of the work with skill and sensitivity.

Ian Bostridge, Financial Times
Critic Reviews

An engaging and enthusiastic account.

Philip Hensher, Spectator

Stephen Johnson studied cello at the Northern School of Music, Manchester, and went on to study composition with Alexander Goehr at Leeds University. After a brief period working for BBC Radio 3 he moved into musical journalism. Since then he has broadcast frequently for BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and World Service, with major projects including fourteen programmes about the…

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