CSO: First Symphonies of Bernstein & Mahler

Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor
J'Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano

Sunday, August 19, 2018
2:30 PM
Donor Gates Open
3:00 PM
Public Gates Open
5:00 PM
Concert Starts

Tickets: $90 / $25
Lawn: $10

Ravinia Wine Club
Sponsored by Terlato Wines
5:30 p.m. in the Tree Top restaurant porch
Select the "Wine Club" ticket for this $15 add-on

Dining Availablity For Tonight: Ravinia Market, Lawn Bar, and Park View are all open tonight. Tree Top is closed.


Bernstein:   Symphony No. 1 (“Jeremiah”)
Mahler:   Symphony No. 1

About The Artist

Program Notes

  • Leonard Bernstein made Gustav Mahler a vital part of the classical experience in the US, beginning the first complete recordings of Mahler’s symphonies and initiating a yearlong festival of his works with the New York Philharmonic in 1960, the composer’s centennial.
  • Gustav Mahler sampled two of his original songs in his First Symphony (like fellow Austrian Romantic composer Franz Schubert would do in his chamber music), as well as a somber and brooding version of the nursery rhyme “Frère Jacques,” which is a recurring theme—as a round, like the original—in the third movement.


  • Glimmers of Gustav Mahler’s Jewish roots can also be heard throughout his First Symphony’s third movement, as the rhythms and instrumentation are similar to klezmer music. His personal faith was more complex than following a single religion: shortly before he premiered the First Symphony, Mahler had adopted Catholicism.
  • There’s a touch of theatricality throughout Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony—it originally had a “program” of imagined scenes for the music like in Hector Berlioz’s or Franz Liszt’s “symphonic poems”—but it literally stands out when the brass players take Mahler’s written instruction and stand for the final minutes of the symphony.
  • Leonard Bernstein gave the premiere of his First Symphony just two and a half months after he became an overnight star making a surprise debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1943. He concluded his Ravinia and CSO debut with it a little over five months later.
  • Traditional Jewish themes can be found in Leonard Bernstein’s First Symphony, even more so than in Gustav Mahler’s First. The Lamentation (the final movement) represents the prophet Jeremiah mourning the destruction of Jerusalem. This was especially profound at the time of the 1944 premiere, as a metaphor for the depravity of the Nazi regime overseas.
  • J’Nai Bridges was a soloist in Ravinia’s world premiere of a chamber orchestra version of Leonard Bernstein’s US Bicentennial–celebrating Songfest five years ago on the Fourth of July.

Park Details

Experience Ravinia's KidsLawn
at today’s concert!

For select concerts, including today’s, our new interactive, family-friendly space on the north lawn will be open for you to experience with your children. Today's KidsLawn features our large-scale percussion instruments on the lawn that will be open to kids of all ages.  See a full listing of KidsLawn dates.


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