“Mahler wanted to show the world: I have a problem!”
Do you remember the first time you heard Mahler’s music?
Nelsons: The first time I consciously heard Mahler’s music was his 1st Symphony. It was strange because I was very much interested in nature sounds at the time, in music about nature. I had recordings of water sounds and bird songs and one day I asked somebody what music they could recommend I listen to if I liked that kind of music, just out of interest.
This person gave me a tape and said, “There is one composer … He had forgotten the name, but it was Mahler’s 1st Symphony. The beginning, which is a chord in the strings, is also the sound of nature, absolutely” [sings]. This was the first Mahler that I heard; I was maybe 11 or 12 years old and I fell in love with his music.