Author Topic: just bought Mahler's full colection  (Read 6636 times)

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Offline Bunny

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Re: just bought Mahler's full colection
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2007, 10:01:36 AM »




I'm a fanatic of the music of the men in my signature. But Mahler is so incredible as a symphonist/orchestrator and songwriter...listening to much of his music can often make me feel a bit snoopy...they get that personal!

That's why Mahler works so well for the 20th and 21st centuries.  His music is so deeply personal as no other composer since Beethoven was.  If Beethoven was the triumphant hero then Mahler was the flawed hero, using his music to reflect the darker side of the human personality.  In a world consumed with existential angst, consumerism and ambitious materialism, Mahler's music reveals the greatness of such a life as well as the failures.  It's music for the realities of modern society where everyone does everything in front of either a real audience or a cyber audience, with every gesture magnified.  Is it self-indulgent? No more than any other art form of the last 150 years.  Is it mawkish? Only in the wrong hands.

Offline pchuang

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Re: just bought Mahler's full colection
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2007, 12:26:57 PM »
Hi, p, and welcome to GMG.  This IS the best place on the web for the sort of information and advice you seek.  Be warned that some Mahler devotees are thin-skinned and brook no unfavorable criticism of the man.  By suggesting that his music, and “some modern art crap,” are “ugly, chaotic, hard to swallow, self-indulgence and overrated no talent,” you may have invited more retribution in kind than kindly advice.

The Adagietto from #5 is one of the first things that attracts many people to Mahler.  It is indeed “sensitive and exquisite.”  Sergeant Rock, above, has graciously listed several other movements you might find similarly appealing.

Other passages in his work are indeed, as you note, “ugly, chaotic, hard to swallow, [and] self-indulgent.”  To some extent I believe this is due to one of his shortcomings as an artist—a tendency to fall into the imitative fallacy.  But it is also largely due to the point of his music, to give expression to his soul’s journey  in life and to interpret the spiritual crises of his time and place on earth.  He is, for me, the perfect artistic embodiment of the Zeitgeist of fin de siecle Vienna at the decadent zenith of the Hapsburg Empire and the dawn of Modernism.

His was an age when industrialization was rending the fabric of the ancien régime.  His birth origins and the circumstances of his life made him especially sensitive to the angst of being poised between worlds.  A Bohemian jew, he had transcended humble provincial origins to become one of the leading artistic figures in all of Europe.  He was deeply spiritual, yet found little solace in religion.  His complex, sprawling, sophisticated yet folksy (cowbells!), bombastic and serene, brilliant but (yes!) self-indulgent music embodies all the contradictions of his time and place and personal life as well.

I don’t know the Sinopoli set, but one of our erstwhile more musically sophisticated members praised it.  There are different approaches to Mahler, from the overwrought emotionalism of Bernstein to the understated clarity of Boulez.  Don’t give up, and don’t reject Mahler out of hand, but take him in small doses and keep coming back to him.  Be warned that you must be willing to forgive his excesses—see them as a feature of the aesthetic of his age, the last gasp of mawkishly self-indulgent late Romanticism.  And recognize that just because he is so over-rated by some whose admiration borders on blind hero worship, that does not mean that he was not one of the greatest symphonists and songwriters who ever lived. 

Hope to see you around more frequently, p…that is if I decide to put up with the juvenile incivility and stick around myself!

now that is what i called informative and educational. thanks longear, you have made my day. i start to have some grip on the subject. intelligent and well written with scholarly objectivity, you comment is the best so far. and also thanks to Sergeant Rock, whose suggestion is very thoughtful.