Symphony of a thousand

Gustav Mahler’s bid for greatness: the ‘Symphony of a Thousand’

A kind of gigantism took hold of the European mind in the years before the first world war. It shaped everything, from empires to poetry. In the confidence of new technology and new ideas, things could be attempted on a larger scale than ever before. The mental power of the age could be measured in the sheer size of the things it produced. This might be ‘Jacky’ Fisher’s Dreadnought in 1906, which set off a European arms race in huge battleships, or a great construction — the Victoria memorial in front of Buckingham Palace is nothing to the one built in Kolkata. Even plays were being conceived on a scale