The Symphony of a Thousand Lecture at HSP

The lecture will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. premiere, which The Philadelphia Orchestra played, of Mahler's Symphony No. 8.

A program on “The Symphony of a Thousand” will be held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on March 8 at 6:30 p.m. The lecture will be the third program in the HSP’s Memories and Melodies program.

The Memories and Melodies program is a series of five programs that highlight the myriad aspects of music history in Philadelphia. The first program, “Philadelphia: City of Music,” was held on February 17 and was an overview of music in Philadelphia from the 1600s to present day. It focused on all genres and musical styles throughout the city’s history. The other programs, such as “Symphony,” will focus on particular aspects of the music history. This is the first time that HSP has offered a series of this nature.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, almost one hundred years to the day, performed the US premier of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in Philadelphia. “Symphony” will include a panel discussion with Jack McCarthy, Philadelphia historian and archivist and Project Director of Hidden Collections Initiative for PA Small Archival Repositories at HSP, and the Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Music Director. The discussion will delve into the unique connection between the “Symphony of a Thousand” and the international arrival of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“Leopold Stokowski was in attendance at the world premiere of the Mahler 8th in Munich, Germany, in 1910, with Mahler himself conducting,” says McCarthy. “Stokowski made it a personal goal to give its American premiere. Not long after he was appointed Philadelphia Orchestra conductor in 1912 he began to make plans to give the premiere with the PO, which came to fruition in 1916. It was a triumphant success for Stokowski and the PO.”

It was the orchestra’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in 1916 that launched it into world prominence. The premiere was also a major event in American concert music history as well. For these reasons, it is very important to remember the performance.

The Symphony will not be played at the lecture. It will, however, be played at the Kimmel Center March 10 through 13. There is an accompanying exhibit to the Memories and Melodies series that highlights various aspects of Philadelphia music history from the 1600s to the present. And, of course, one can always go see the Philadelphia Orchestra in concert at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

For “The Symphony of a Thousand” lecture, McCarthy hopes that attendees will learn “the significance of the 1916 premiere, the history behind it, and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s rich history of innovation and excellence overall.”

Registration for “Symphony” is $11.19 for HSP and Philadelphia Orchestra members and just $16.29 for non-members.

To register for the lecture, click here.

You can also purchase registration for the entire Memories and Melodies series here.