Classical Post: Mahler in the Mountains

Classical Post
Andrew Palmer Todd

I grew up in rural Ohio, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of acres of corn and soybeans. Fields vast enough that you could legitimately get lost as a young person, and sometimes I actually did. But from a very early age, boxed in by this bucolic Midwestern setting though I was, I dreamt of mountains. I happily remember drawing pictures of mountains for hours on end. My favorite TV show was that short-lived 1970s show set in the mountains, Grizzly Adams. I mean, I really thought everyone should grow up and have a pet grizzly bear named “Ben”!

There were no musicians in my family. The only thing remotely musical about my family was my grandfather’s 1914 silver Conn trombone. That said, music spoke to me from very early on. I remember being 6 or 7 years old and rushing up to the choir loft to watch the church organist play the postlude each Sunday. The sounds of the pipe organ. Those four manuals. The pedal board. All of those organ stops and buttons. It was mesmerizing.

Eventually, my parents did two things for their young son, captivated as I was by mountains and music. We embarked on the compulsory family vacation to Yellowstone, complete in a faux wood-paneled station Chrysler LeBaron station wagon towing a stylish Jayco camper to bask in the majesty of the mountains. And more importantly, they supported my dream to learn the piano.

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