Ballet by John Neumeier
This ballet is dedicated to THE HAMBURG BALLET

The Fourth Movements, Night (Nacht),
is dedicated to John Cranko and his Company
and was premiered in Stuttgart, July 1974,
with Marcia Haydée, Richard Cragun and
Egon Madsen.


  Gustav Mahler
Lighting Concept
  John Neumeier

No intermission – 2 hours


World Premiere
The Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, June 14, 1975


Original Cast
  François Klaus
Zhandra Rodriguez
Persephone Samaropoulo
Salvatore Aiello
Truman Finney für Maximo Barra
Magali Messac
Fred Howald
Marianne Kruuse
Mariana Eglevsky
Tomislav Vukovic

Premiere 14. Juni 1975
Premiere – June 14, 1975


On Tour
1975 Venice, Stuttgart, Frankfurt-Hoechst, Luxemburg 1976 Paris, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem 1977 Gdánsk, Vienna Berlin, Brussels 1978 Helsinki, Leverkusen 1980 Bremerhaven, Ludwigshafen 1981 Dresden, Munich, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires 1983 New York 1984 Toronto, Montreal, Chicago (Ravinia Festival) 1985 New York 1986 Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Budapest 1987 Lausanne, Marseille, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig 1988 Milwaukee, Barcelona 1989 Athens 2003 Baden-Baden 2012 Beijing, Hongkong 2014 Chicago 2015 Venice

In the Repertory
Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris
Royal Swedish Ballet



Like Mahler's music, the ballet was not created according to a Libretto. The music itself is its theme. The following is therefore not a literal synopsis. These word-images are John Neumeier's spontaneous answers to the question of meaning in his ballet—written long after its creation.




"And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death"
William Shakespeare, "Macbeth"

The following is not a literal synopsis. These word-images are John Neumeier's answers to the question of meaning in his ballet—written long after its creation.

Silence. The movement begins with lifeless nature. Stones? Trees?
The earth’s vibrations move and shape nature. Man—earth bound—senses rumblings of aggression and the seductive march rhythm is born.
Intimations of latent destruction.
The march towards violence and war cannot be held back.
But, there are also anima sounds—a breath lifting man off the earth. The soul.
The central figure senses contrary forces within himself—a journey of experience begins.



Flowers on a field of war.
The central figure is moved by their pure beauty. They inspire his dreams yet remain distant. Floral beauty may touch our emotions but cannot fulfill physical desire.



People. Fragments of loving relationships—human warmth during the chill season of farewells. Longing for new beginnings—for a touch. The ghosts of lovers constantly parting introduce the theme of death.



Recovering from the experience of death we carry on—we carry each other.
This movement is dedicated to the memory of John Cranko and his company



The purity of a child speaks—like an angel, moving with transparent power—direct and aspiring. This song is an overture to the last movement of the symphony.


VIWhat Love tells me

People reach towards each other—meet, touch, and desperately embrace.
The desire to connect bends their bodies. Brief encounters constantly collapse.

Touched by the Angel of the fifth movement, the central figure experiences an intense but fleeting relationship. Although their meeting is transient, the spirit of pure love colours his world. Moving towards love remains his ultimate journey.

John Neumeier




Dance work of genius
… Mahler's Third Symphony is an incredible achievement, one of those masterpieces that permits a man's entire career to be re-evaluated … This is a startling, handsomely nonconformist ballet on sempiternal architectural lines that ineffably presents Neumeier's visiting card as one of the major classic choreographers of our century. His many American detractors can patronize him as much as they like. This ballet is a work of genius…
Clive Barnes, New York Post, March 21, 1983

Hamburg's 'Symphony' beautiful, awesome
… Yet Neumeier doesn't use his dancers for definitive narrative purposes. His muse is not that of a plotless Balanchine, nor an explicit Massine. His choreography is simply his impression of the music, and he leaves it up to you to conjure up your own allegories of hope, rejection and redemption…
Chicago Sun-Times, June 25, 1984

Hamburg Ballet glistens
… Mahler's Third Symphony is a breathtaking, exciting, beautifully crafted and handsomely wrought work…
Clive Barnes, New York Post, March 14, 1985





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