In May 2011, to close the International Mahler Festival in Leipzig, Riccardo Chailly conducted Mahler's Symphony No. 8.
To commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Gustav Mahler's death, the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and his musical director Riccardo Chailly, acclaimed all over the world, closed the Festival performing Mahler's Symphony No. 8, the Symphony of a Thousand.
To perform Mahler's brilliant Symphony No. 8 requiring one of the largest orchestras of any work in the symphonic repertoire, Riccardo Chailly conducted 500 musicians and singers.
This 80 minutes Symphony, composed in 1906, is one of the longest of Mahler's symphonies, after the third and the first. It marks a break with the composer's purely orchestral writing.
"I have just completed my Eighth. It is the greatest I have composed thus far. It is so unique in content and form that it does not lend itself to description. Imagine that the universe begins to sound and ring out. These no longer are human voices, rather planets and suns that are circling." Gustav Mahler, August 1906.
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