“Mahler is the reason why I’m a conductor today”
Do you remember the first time you heard Mahler’s music?
Rattle: I’m not sure. I grew up in Liverpool when they were doing what was actually the first European Mahler cycle with the same orchestra and conductor. It’s extraordinary when you think about it – this was the mid 60s, but no one in Europe had played all the symphonies with the same conductor. It had only been done in Utah, by the Utah Symphony Orchestra. And one forgets how off-centre Mahler was at the time. Berthold Goldschmidt had only just performed Mahler’s 3rd for the first time in Britain; that was in 1962. I still have a magnificent tape of that. So, Sir Charles Groves and the Liverpool Philharmonic did two a year for five-and-a-half years, because they also did Das Lied von der Erde [The Song of the Earth] and the early version of the completed 10th. I can remember, because I was studying: violin with one player in the orchestra, percussion with another, and they said, “Ah! We’re on our twice-yearly struggle with Mahler.”