Das Lied von der Erde
(The Song of the Earth) was written in 1907-09
by Gustav Mahler. Inspiration for this composition
came after Mahler read Tang dynasty poems, which
had been freely translated into German by Hans
Bethge and anthologized under the title Die chinesische
Flote (The Chinese Flute). Mahler chose poems
by Li Po, Meng Haoran, and Wang Wei.
Premiered in 1911 at Munich
to high acclaim, this work has also proved the
source for dance works, the most noted of which
is Kenneth MacMillan¡¦s 1968 choreography for the
Stuttgart Ballet. The present production, however,
is the first dance work of scale created by a
Chinese. A Western symphonic work based on Tang
poetry and now interpreted through Chinese dance
thus transports what went West from the East back
to the East ¢w another chapter in Sino-Western
cultural mingling; profoundly meaningful indeed.
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