At the opening concert of his third City Center season, on September 22 1947, Bernstein conducted the first of two performances of Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony, the Resurrection. It was his first Mahler interpretation; he dedicated the performances to what he called the resurrection of Palestine. Both were sold out. Nonetheless, journalists sniped at the music’s alleged lack of popular appeal. The depth of the prejudice against Mahler which Bernstein fought — joining a crusade on behalf of Mahler that he was later to lead in triumph — can be measured by the critic Irving Kolodkin’s sneering reaction to Mahler’s rarely performed score: “The most bumptious, empty noise ever contrived.”

Humphrey Burton, “Leonard Bernstein”.

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