Ewig… ewig…

“The greatest thing in music in my life has been to have known Kathleen Ferrier and Gustav Mahler — in that order.” Thus Bruno Walter spoke of the singer whose untimely passing, on this day in 1953, robbed the world of one of its most beautiful voices. Ferrier’s art allied superb interpretive skill with a natural instrument of unique quality, androgynous and unearthly in timbre. Her death at the age of 41 was a human and artistic tragedy scarcely redeemed by her rich legacy of recorded performance. Her collaboration with Walter in the music of Mahler produced some of the greatest recordings of all time, indelible monuments to the greatness of both artists. Perhaps the finest among these is their unsurpassed version of Das Lied von der Erde, which ends with the words:

Ah my friend,
Fortune was not kind to me in this world!
Where do I go? I go, I wander in the mountains.
I seek peace for my lonely heart.
I wander homeward, to my abode!
I’ll never wander far.
Still is my heart, awaiting its hour.
The dear earth everywhere blossoms in spring and grows green
anew! Everywhere and forever blue is the horizon!
Forever … Forever …

Photo of Ferrier and Walter, auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2012

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