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A Wayfarer's Journey: Listening to Mahler

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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(May 15, 2007)
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$43.00 $5.99

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Editorial Reviews

The Wayfarer's Journey: Listening to Mahler is an exploration of the relationship between music and healing. It presents a parallel story between two icons from the world of music featuring the legendary composer, Gustav Mahler and the renowned conductor, Christoph Eschenbach. Although they lived during different eras separated by one hundred years, both men experienced tragic childhood, but were able to achieve healing and redemption through music. Additionally, other participants are featured including Academy award-winning actor, Richard Dreyfuss, (as the voice of Mahler), Dr. Richard O'Reilly, one of the leading pediatric oncologists from the Sloan Kettering Institute, Dr. Balfour Mount,a cancer survivor and founder of the Hospice movement in North America, as well as the students from the Curtis School of Music. Together they affirm the healing power of music. Actress, Kathleen Chalfant as narrator. Written by Dejan Georgevich

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PA9Q64
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,472 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I rented this despite the 2-star rating from other
reviewers at a certain web site I won't mention here.
I can't understand why it was rated so low. It's a very
decent view on Mahler's life and music, biographical
but with an emphasis on how his life experiences affected
his music. Dreyfuss is somewhat miscast as Mahler's voice,
but they could not have found a better conductor than
Eschenbach to explain Mahler's music. I saw Maestro
Eschenbach conduct the entire Mahler 9-symphony cycle
(I actually missed #8, too bad!) in Houston. I found the
part where Eschenbach's life is discussed (it parallels
Mahler's painful childhood) to be very interesting, and
his insights about Mahler's music are second to none. I
am not certain the documentary makers actually make a
convincing tie-in between Mahler's music and the
discussions with the physicians, but this documentary is
well worth watching. For Mahler experts it might seem a
bit superficial, but for anyone else who likes classical
music it's very good.
1 Comment 23 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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This DVD is a little like Mahler symphonies: it starts slow and seemingly disjointed and gradually comes together; however, unlike a Mahler symphony, it is not great. It has much to recommend it, but the whole is less than the sum of the parts. It suffers from two main problems, a lack of focus and a partial failure to act on the very truth that it states, namely, that creative genius comes from the heart more than from the head. This would have been a much more effective disc if it had simply concentrated more on the joy (and pain, too) of making music rather than drowning the subject in words.

The best parts of the program are when it draws the parallel between Christoph Eschenbach's anguished childhood and Mahler's struggles and when it demonstrates, via the example of the bright young musicians it interviews, one of its other theses, which is that children have a way of getting to the heart of a matter, whether it be honesty of expression or fortitude in the face of hardship. Even though the musicians are young adults rather than children, they retain the freshness and sincerity associated with the latter.

The production pursues the theme of music as healer and expresser of the metaphysical fairly consistently, yet it still seems to meander and lack focus, a fault further aggravated by the use of what amounts to three narrators. I believe that the program would have been stronger had the narration been limited to Mahler the composer (as voiced by Richard Dreyfuss) and Christoph Eschenbach the interpreter. The presence of a third narrator (Kathleen Chalfant) simply makes the program seem more scattered, a Wayfarer that is a bit lost.

I was also a little annoyed by the navel-gazing intellectualizing about metaphysics and spirituality.
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Comment 11 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Mahler's life and music are described and played with joy by young and old musicians. But the conversations between conductor, Christoph Eschenbach ,and pediatric oncologist, Richard O'Reilly are profoundly moving and inspiring. The power of Mahler's music to enter every human emotion in every listener makes this fine film a powerful and positive experience to be shared and played often.
Comment 20 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I guess I am not a wayfarer, although I have been a devoted Mahler fan for 40 years. The view put forth - that Mahler's hopefulness in the face of suffering, which inform much of his music, have special therapeutic faculties for those who suffer and need hope - is handled too drippily and heavily, whatever its real merits.

We know so much about Mahler's personal life that it is all too easy to make a forced connection between his life and his music and his listeners. It is easy in hindsight if we know a composer's thoughts to think that those thoughts/feelings are translatable to us via his music. But Leonard Bernstein, himself a Mahler romantic and one of the first American conductors to advocate Mahlers music to this country, said it best in his Norton Lecture series at Harvard: "Music has intrinsic meanings of its own, which are not to be confused with specific feelings or moods, and certainly not with pictorial impressions or stories." This does not mean that music does not have expressive and emotional impact, mind you. It's just that this documentary tries too hard to connect that to some kind of meaning.

If you want to learn more about Mahler's music, read Deryck Cooke's "Gustav Mahler, an Introduction to His Music", and then listen to it. This is not the documentary for that. If you want to know more about Mahler, read the La Grange biographies; this is not the documentary for that either.
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Even though it was a used copy, the quality was very good, and at a very good price. Satisfied with the purchase
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