“One cannot refer to the biography to explain the music”
Do you remember the first time you heard Mahler’s music?
Boulez: I think so. In France he was not performed at all when I was young. But it was the 4th Symphony, and I remember being surprised by the Schellen [sleigh bells] because it was very unusual to hear such a sound, especially at the beginning of a symphony. Paul Kletzki was conducting.
And then the other time I heard Mahler, that was Das Lied von der Erde [The Song of the Earth], performed in 1952. I don’t know if that was for the first time in France, but it was the first time I saw it programmed there. Although I don’t remember the performers, it was very impressive.