“Mahler’s Seventh made me sleepless”
Do you remember the first time you heard Mahler’s music?
Gergiev: I remember it very vaguely. It was the 1st Symphony. Obviously, I was a very, very young man, but I remember that final movement when the horn section suddenly stands up and continues to play while standing. It’s a very powerful statement of desire in this symphony. That was very memorable.
That was a long time ago and, of course, it was also a long time before I started to look at Mahler’s symphonies – although when I was preparing to participate in the Herbert von Karajan Competition for young conductors, I saw that Mahler’s 1st was on the list of pieces to prepare. That meant that if you prepared it, you could be asked to conduct the second movement, part of the finale, part of the first movement or just a couple of tempo transitions at the end – they don’t give you the entire symphony to conduct.