Leonard Bernstein conducts a performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, the so-called Symphony of a Thousand. The Orchestra is the Vienna Philharmonic. There is rich and poignant symbolism in this performance in Vienna from about the year 1975. Mahler, a Jew, was himself the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic in the early years of the 20th century. He was driven from his position at the Vienna State Opera by anti-Semitic intrigue. The anti-Semitic elements in Viennese society, long opposed to Mahler's appointment, continued to attack him relentlessly, and in 1907 instituted a press campaign designed to drive him out. Even Strauss couldn't help him. His departing message to the opera company, which he pinned to a notice board, was later torn down and scattered over the floor.
The Eighth Symphony is in two parts. The text of part I is a Latin hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus. Part II is a musical setting of the final scene of Goethe's Faust (Part II). In the final scene Faust's soul is redeemed, snatched from the grip of Mephistopheles. Faust's day had come! Er kommt zurück!