The Philharmonia Orchestra of London came to Avery Fisher Hall, under the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. It was with the Philharmonia that Salonen got his start, thirty years ago. This is one of the best “launching” stories in music. Michael Tilson Thomas was scheduled to lead the orchestra in Mahler’s Third Symphony. He injured himself playing tennis. Orchestra management looked high and low for a conductor who was free—they finally found a young man in Finland. Salonen had never conducted the Third Symphony. He had never heard it, never seen the score. The concert was in three days. Now, the Mahler Third is one of the strangest and most profound symphonies in the literature. It is also the longest, as Salonen pointed out in an interview with me a few years ago. Salonen went to the library, got the score—and conducted...

 
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