Symphony Hall will welcome the Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia led by Antonio Pappano on Saturday when they will perform Mahler’s First Symphony.
The orchestra boasts a venerable Mahler tradition and their strong ties with the composer commenced when Mahler came to Rome to conduct the Santa Cecilia Orchestra on two separate visits to the capital in March 1907 and April 1910. It is particularly noteworthy that he should choose to come to Rome because the composer made few appearances beyond the Austrian Hungarian border and Holland (he never conducted in France and UK).
Despite his luggage being lost en route to his first performance in Rome, Mahler was determined to continue his concert plans and borrowed a hastily adjusted outfit from the hotel’s proprietor for the first concert, which was given in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Margherita. During the interval, the Queen called the Maestro to her box to compliment him on the performance and charmingly offered her help to find his lost luggage. The national newspaper Il Messeggero noted that “thanks to the conductor, the orchestra was transformed into an organism full of vigour and perfectly balanced”. At the end of the concert the audience jumped up completely spontaneously to applaud the “visibly moved” Maestro. Though not without its mishaps, the experience had been positive enough for the great conductor to accept a return invitation in 1910.