Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

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RE: Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

 

Peter - you are the second writer who has recommended Mahler's ninth - so I will take a listen. Looks like it is a masterpiece of structure.

And Ms. Harris, thankyou for your post. I shall check out your book!

Regards

Partsong

Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...

RE: Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

Quote:

Interesting, almost entirely level-headed discussion of the Mahler phenomenon. Funnily enough I've recently written a piece about the post-1960s Mahler craze as a sort of review-essay of Norman Lebrecht's Why Mahler? Three things which I thought Lebrecht didn't mention to explain the 'timing' were:

1) the full establishment of stereo LPs in the 1960s and then the willingness in the 1990s/2000s for record companies to release 80-minute CDs (all Mahler symphonies can be fitted onto an 80-minute CD, with the exception of the 3rd);

2) many listeners' lack of response to the post-war avant-garde - Mahler, by contrast, writes tunes (but is ironic and 'postmodern' enough to feel 'relevant');

3) the end of biographical constraint in the 1960s and 1970s (biographies by Mitchell, de la Grange, etc): we're all psychologists now, and Mahler is a gift here (something people pick up on above).

http://hwj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/02/21/hwj.dbq060.extrac...

 

Those 3 extra reasons are wholly correct (I remember reading the first one in the 1970s in Kurt Blaukopf's Mahler book, by the way!) I am going to read your article, which I have just downloaded through Project Muse.

RE: Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

Is "only fake people like Mahler" an ironic comment in that in the present consumerist, materialistic society where everyone is prepared to remain in debt for the whole of their working lives, we are all "fakes" in that we will never attain our aspirations.

Mahler's music should, therefore, be both the foreground and background music to all of our lives in the liberal West, culminating not with the 9th symphony but with Das Lied von der Erde (incidentally, termed a symphony in my catalogue).

RE: Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

I won’t argue with the reasons why Mahler has become so popular. Modern music seemed too cerebral and didn’t effectively communicate emotion enough (not to the common folk anyway) to appeal to wider audience. It seems only natural that people living in the cold industrial society would cling to Mahler’s cinematic music for warmth. It’s a rather cliché scenario, but yet understandable. During his time, he was widely regarded as one of greatest conductors. The conductor Otto Klemperer once quoted “When he conducted you felt it could not be better and it could not be otherwise… Toscanini was the greatest conductor of his generation, but Mahler was a hundred times greater.” Even though his music was originally not well liked by most people and critics alike, however there were artists of his caliber such as Arnold Schoenberg, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Anton Webern, and Alban Berg who strongly admired Mahler’s work. Thomas Mann, a novelist, once quoted about Mahler as “the man who, as I believe, expresses the art of our time in its profoundest and most sacred form.” His music may seem emotionally over-indulgent to some, but it is only because he was a very intense person. Mahler, scornful to life’s trivialities, was endlessly questioning everything, his life was a never-ending quest for truth and meaning. His music was reflection of his life as it was constantly fraught between triumph and heartbreak, of optimism and hopelessness. Mahler was often completely miserable, he writes “The most consuming yearning for death dominates my heart… when the abominable tyranny of our modern hypocrisy has driven me to the point of dishonoring myself, when the inextricable web of conditions in art and life has filled my heart with disgust for that is sacred to me – art, love, religion – what way out is there but self-annihilation.” To some, his music is overly dramatic, but composing was his way of reflecting every emotion possible. He says “Only when I experience intensely do I compose. Only when I compose do I experience intensely.” He took himself very seriously indeed and was passionate about creating music of monumental proportions. He once quoted “A symphony must be like the world, it must embrace everything.”, which indeed, his music does just that.

 

Even though Mahler, throughout his life, was very hectic and busy as a conductor, he still went on composing an excellent cycle of symphonies. After being diagnosed with a severe heart disease in 1907 and with the feeling that his life would soon come to an end, his last years of music of his were even more emotionally intense. He composed his Das Lied von der Erde, which he believed was his most personal music. He then went on to compose his Ninth Symphony, despite his superstitious belief in “the curse of the ninth symphony”. This would the last symphony he completed and possibly his greatest work. It was masterful display of unrelenting beauty and devastation.  He pours his entire heart out in this work. Every emotion hidden in the recesses of ones mind is uncovered here. It was a work of a dying man. Alban Berg describes it as “The first movement is the most heavenly thing Mahler ever wrote. It is the expression of an exceptional fondness of this Earth. The longing to live in peace on it, to enjoy nature to its depths – before death comes. For he comes irresistibly. The whole movement is permeated by premonitions of death.” This was his masterpiece. Even John Cage regarded it as one of the greatest symphonies of all times. Unfortunately, Mahler never lived long enough to hear the symphony performed. Soon after, his health failed and was transported to his home city of Vienna where he was to die. The last word he muttered was “Mozart”. His gravestone simply reads: GUSTAV MAHLER. Before his death, when he was asked why he had wished for nothing else to be carved onto his gravestone, he replied “Those who seek me know who I was, and the others don’t need to know.” Mahler lived a very emotionally turbulent life, but judging by that first movement of his ninth, I’d say Mahler found some measure of peace in his life before he died.

 

I honestly can’t understand why Mahler, a composer of such vitality, originality, and profundity, is being so viscously attacked on this forum. I consider the recent rediscovery of Mahler as a good thing. For me, Mahler was one of the most remarkable symphonists in history. He was also probably the most tragic of all composers. His music is often filled with joy, pain, ecstasy, and infinite sorrow. He openly displayed his most repressed feelings in his work, and held nothing back. What more can one demand from an artist. All of these emotions I sense in his music are real. Nothing here strikes me as artificial or banal. I’m sure many others would agree that there is much more to him and his music. Mahler only met once with Sigmund Freud, their moment together was brief, but Freud would quote years later that “I’d had plenty of opportunity to admire the capability for psychological understanding of this man of genius.” The historian Frederic V. Grunfeld said “No composer before or since has ever expressed himself more movingly in what Freud calls ’the struggle between Eros and Death, between the instincts of life and the instincts of destruction,’ as it works itself out in the human species.”

 

 RIP Gustav Mahler

frostwalrus

RE: Mahler everywhere: why?

frostwalrus wrote:

He openly displayed his most repressed feelings in his work, and held nothing back. What more can one demand from an artist.

 

As a Mahler lover, my answer is: not every listener demands (so much) emotion from an artist, or if (s)he does, likes to hear it expressed in another, perhaps more restrained way.

RE: Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

Dear Gramophone: Six cycles and not a single Klemperer interpretation!! Are you serious?

Best

RE: Mahler, Mahler everywhere: why?

With its extra musical connotations of life and death perhaps there is a connexion between the rise in the popularity of Mahler's music in line with the decline of interest in and practice of religion and this is actually becoming more important than the music itself.

Delius had a reputation of liking little music other than his own, and he may have been a little premature with his prophecy in the early 1930s when he said "The English....like vogues for this and that. Now it's Sibelius and when they're tired of him they'll boost up Mahler and Bruckner" (from Eric Fenby's book "Delius as I Knew Him"). 

Mahler Everywhere

Amen to this article.  I've been saying the same for years.

Leonard Bernstein was key in guilting the Viennese into loving Mahler and now the torch has passed to MTT and others who play and revere him more than Beethoven and Brahms.  I have an excellent ear and appreciate nearly every genre of music, but the passion that some have for Mahler, Sibelius and most Richard Strauss has always escaped me.

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