Author Topic: Mahler's Blumine  (Read 1037 times)

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Offline LKB

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Mahler's Blumine
« on: October 06, 2017, 06:27:17 PM »
So, l am in a sort of flowery quandary and would appreciate opinions to help me sorry it out.

I've been listening to various recordings of Blumine, and have been reading up on its genesis, as well as the circumstances surrounding Mahler's decision to delete it from Sym. No. 1. I've been able to reach conclusions regarding his decision, but I'm not sure if the matter generates enough interest to warrant the lengthy and detailed essay I'm tempted to post.

So, what do y'all think? Would such a thesis be interesting to people, or should l boil it down to the conclusions and brief explanations as to how l arrived at them?

Regards,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2017, 06:37:40 PM »
I first encountered Mahler's First Symphony in the standard four-movement version, and I didn't hear the Blumine movement until much later, at which point the work was very firmly imprinted in my mind.

The movement supposedly had its beginnings in music Mahler wrote for a popular pantomime, and this was directly related to the prominent use of the trumpet in the main melody.  Granted, the First Symphony itself had a whole hodgepodge of sources, from Das klagende Lied to the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and beyond, and without the Blumine movement, the symphony lacks a traditional slow movement.  The funeral march burlesque has to suffice, and it doesn't have the weight that Mahler's slow movements usually have, but then again neither does the Blumine (or, for that matter, the delightful intermezzo that forms the Second Symphony's second movement).

I find the movement a little weak, personally.  The mood he was going for is far better and more memorably achieved in the Third Symphony's third movement trio.  In the context of the original First Symphony it's nice to have a bit of a buffer between the boisterous ending of the first movement and the forthright opening of the scherzo, but I think the composer's revisions here improved the symphony overall, just as they did with the revisions he made to the finale after the first performances (and with the Totenfeier before it became the opening of the Second).
« Last Edit: October 06, 2017, 06:46:22 PM by Mahlerian »

Offline motoboy

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 01:01:09 PM »


So, what do y'all think? Would such a thesis be interesting to people, or should l boil it down to the conclusions and brief explanations as to how l arrived at them?


Go for it! This is the place for interesting minutiae.

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 02:14:29 PM »
Ok.

Since someone finally responded to my question and there now appear to be no issues, I'll have the post up tomorrow.

It will be lengthy, fairly detailed and hopefully invite thoughtful responses. Stay tuned!  8)

Regards,

LKB
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Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2017, 09:21:20 AM »
Apologies for the delay. Not sure why but l was unable to access the site for several hours yesterday. l am in central California, and if the server wasn't down the fires may be to blame as there are areas of infrastructure which have been damaged.

In any event, my post on Blumine will be up later today, assuming connectivity <Crosses fingers...> .

Hopefully,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2017, 07:39:42 PM »
First of all, thanks to Mahlerian for his post. He makes some valuable points, some of which I'll be expanding on, and l appreciate his input.

This will be a lengthy post. Since there are undoubtedly folks who don't presently have the time or inclination to read the entire essay, I'll present my main conclusions up front, so they can be on their way and return at their leisure to learn how l arrived at the following:

1) Gustav Mahler included Blumine in the early iterations of Sym. No. 1 to increase the emotional range of the work, and to give both players and audience some relief from the intensity of the remaining movements.

2) Mahler was correct in removing Blumine from Sym. No. 1.

3) Remnants of Blumine can be detected in at least the final movement of the revised version of  Sym. No. 1, and possibly other symphonies of Mahler.

4) The posthorn solos in the third movement of  Sym. No. 3 are ( rather obviously ) partially derived from Blumine, and can be considered an evolution of the same musical intent.

Before l proceed with the supportive reasoning & evidence concerning these assertions, l believe it appropriate to briefly provide some personal background. Not because I'm particularly interesting as such, but because readers have the right to know how well informed an expressed belief or opinion is, particularly when the subject matter concerns music which has great significance for many of us.

My initial exposure to Mahler was in 1975, via a televised performance of Sym. No. 1. I was immediately hooked, and purchased a recording to which l listened obsessively until l had the work memorized. It has stayed in my head ever since.

I began composing in 1976, and obtained my first commission in 1991. My most recent commission was completed this past August.

I was active as a self-taught oboist from 1976 until 1995, when l had to give it up due to health concerns. While l did have some professional engagements, it was never going to be my career. I do miss it though.

Aside from composing, my main musical income has derived from singing. I am a bass-baritone, now in what is commonly called the " twilight phase " of my career. My peak was in the 1990's, during which l sang some 340 performances. These have ranged from opera to solo recitals, oratorios, symphonies and private engagements.

So, now you have some idea of my perspective for the opinions and guesses which will follow. I believe they are " educated guesses ", informed by my own practical composing experience as well as my knowledge of Mahler.

That might sound somewhat arrogant, so let me add that while l may see Mahler as a brother composer, he's a very, VERY big brother, and my achieving something on the order of Das Lied von der Erde is, at this point, only a dream. I am small potatoes.  :D

Even so, l believe l am qualified to examine Blumine as it represents Mahler in the youthful, exploratory phase of his career, when he was still searching and learning. And l do feel affection for the movement; it is easy to understand why Mahler struggled before discarding it.

So, we turn to the task.

Blumine's genesis was as a portion of incidental music for a pageant play by J.V. von Scheffel, entitled Der Trompeter von Saekkingen. Mahler received a commission to compose music for seven scenes, in June of 1884. He also began work on Sym. No. 1 around this time. And in November of that year, Mahler was inspired to start on what would become Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, which he completed in December. So 1884 loom's large in the life history of Mahler, offering up his first masterpiece and the beginnings of his symphonic endeavors.

But as for Blumine, it seems to have remained largely unaltered,  displaying the same orchestration as it presented for the pageant play, which was significantly scaled down as compared to the remaining movements of the symphony. This would suggest ambivalence regarding the movement itself, but why would Mahler have thought to insert it into the symphony in the first place?

If we want to attempt an answer, we have to examine Mahler's professional status at the time of Sym. No. 1's premiere, as well as certain events in his personal life.

On November 20th of 1889, Mahler conducted the first performance of what would become Sym. No. 1 in D Major. But when his baton came down in Budapest, the piece was described as a Symphonic Poem in Five Movements. The work was not favorably received.

1889 was a difficult year in Mahler's life. His father had passed away in February, and he lost his mother in October. This left him as the head of his family, responsible for four siblings after a sister died from a brain tumor. And Mahler himself underwent surgery for hemorrhoids in July. Such a procedure isn't enjoyable now, much less over a   century ago. And, of course, he was the chief conductor of the Royal Budapest Opera, with all of the attendant responsibilities and pressures.

So, November 20th is approaching. Mahler has a solid reputation as a gifted, even brilliant young conductor. But as a composer of symphonic music, he is an unknown quantity. The orchestra will be performing unfamiliar and complex music. The public will be curious, the critics skeptical. How can Mahler shift the odds a bit more in his favor?

Here is where l must put on my composer's hat and venture into the dangerous realm of conjecture...

This is my orchestra. We've had some success together, but only with me leading them in the re-creative role of the conductor. If l am to succeed as a composer, they must accept me as such... In order for that to occur, l must show them the full spectrum of the expressive power of orchestral music. They must know and believe that l can say anything - everything! - in my composing...


Mahler was in a vulnerable position. He needed every possible advantage. For a young composer, especially at the end of an exhausting year, that can mean the "  kitchen sink " approach. And by calling the work a " symphonic poem ", he is free of the formal constraints which had obtained for so long, and which could still provide ammunition for hostile critics... if he calls it a symphony.

So, a Symphonic Poem. Now he can have more than four movements, but he still needs more variety in expression. He is already showing the joy of the morning, a comic funeral parody, the smiling rustic dance, the striving against implacable foes with the inevitable triumph... What more, what more...

Perhaps... just a simple, lovely place to rest, and think a bit? No great challenges, nothing profound, just deep breaths and a little food and wine, and then we jump back into the adventure, all the more prepared.

Blumine certainly has a tone which is distinct from the four remaining movements of Mahler's First. It is uncomplicated, even unambitious. And facing an audience which has to contend with new, complex music from an artist they only knew by his baton, Mahler may have simply decided to give them something that would be relatively unchallenging. Blumine was already scored, is fairly easy to perform and would afford some of his orchestra an opportunity for rest, which is significant when premiering a major work.

So: Mahler decided he needed to display as much emotional range as was possible in this initial exposure of his symphonic ambitions. Blumine is easy to read and perform, is fairly accessible for an audience, and the score and parts were already created. Thus his decision to include it.

I think l will leave this here for tonight. I lost a couple hours and a few hundred words when my browser crashed, and atm l am tired and hungry. So, part two tomorrow.  8)

Regards,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline Pat B

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2017, 11:56:45 AM »
That might sound somewhat arrogant

I didn’t take it as arrogant. I’m looking forward to the rest of your thoughts.

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2017, 12:34:14 PM »
Thanks for that, l appreciate you saying so.  :)

More thoughts later today or tonight, after more sleep.

Yawning,

LKB
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Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2017, 06:01:22 PM »
Sorry for yet another delay, but three hours of sleep and feeling a bit shaky. Smoke from the fires has been a problem most of the week, though it seemed better today. I'll try to put up Part 2 tomorrow...until then, remember what the doctor said:

" Patients are a virtue. "  :D

Nodding,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Autumn Leaves

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2017, 11:31:51 PM »
First of all, thanks to Mahlerian for his post. He makes some valuable points, some of which I'll be expanding on, and l appreciate his input.

This will be a lengthy post. Since there are undoubtedly folks who don't presently have the time or inclination to read the entire essay, I'll present my main conclusions up front, so they can be on their way and return at their leisure to learn how l arrived at the following:

1) Gustav Mahler included Blumine in the early iterations of Sym. No. 1 to increase the emotional range of the work, and to give both players and audience some relief from the intensity of the remaining movements.

2) Mahler was correct in removing Blumine from Sym. No. 1.

3) Remnants of Blumine can be detected in at least the final movement of the revised version of  Sym. No. 1, and possibly other symphonies of Mahler.

4) The posthorn solos in the third movement of  Sym. No. 3 are ( rather obviously ) partially derived from Blumine, and can be considered an evolution of the same musical intent.

Before l proceed with the supportive reasoning & evidence concerning these assertions, l believe it appropriate to briefly provide some personal background. Not because I'm particularly interesting as such, but because readers have the right to know how well informed an expressed belief or opinion is, particularly when the subject matter concerns music which has great significance for many of us.

My initial exposure to Mahler was in 1975, via a televised performance of Sym. No. 1. I was immediately hooked, and purchased a recording to which l listened obsessively until l had the work memorized. It has stayed in my head ever since.

I began composing in 1976, and obtained my first commission in 1991. My most recent commission was completed this past August.

I was active as a self-taught oboist from 1976 until 1995, when l had to give it up due to health concerns. While l did have some professional engagements, it was never going to be my career. I do miss it though.

Aside from composing, my main musical income has derived from singing. I am a bass-baritone, now in what is commonly called the " twilight phase " of my career. My peak was in the 1990's, during which l sang some 340 performances. These have ranged from opera to solo recitals, oratorios, symphonies and private engagements.

So, now you have some idea of my perspective for the opinions and guesses which will follow. I believe they are " educated guesses ", informed by my own practical composing experience as well as my knowledge of Mahler.

That might sound somewhat arrogant, so let me add that while l may see Mahler as a brother composer, he's a very, VERY big brother, and my achieving something on the order of Das Lied von der Erde is, at this point, only a dream. I am small potatoes.  :D

Even so, l believe l am qualified to examine Blumine as it represents Mahler in the youthful, exploratory phase of his career, when he was still searching and learning. And l do feel affection for the movement; it is easy to understand why Mahler struggled before discarding it.

So, we turn to the task.

Blumine's genesis was as a portion of incidental music for a pageant play by J.V. von Scheffel, entitled Der Trompeter von Saekkingen. Mahler received a commission to compose music for seven scenes, in June of 1884. He also began work on Sym. No. 1 around this time. And in November of that year, Mahler was inspired to start on what would become Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, which he completed in December. So 1884 loom's large in the life history of Mahler, offering up his first masterpiece and the beginnings of his symphonic endeavors.

But as for Blumine, it seems to have remained largely unaltered,  displaying the same orchestration as it presented for the pageant play, which was significantly scaled down as compared to the remaining movements of the symphony. This would suggest ambivalence regarding the movement itself, but why would Mahler have thought to insert it into the symphony in the first place?

If we want to attempt an answer, we have to examine Mahler's professional status at the time of Sym. No. 1's premiere, as well as certain events in his personal life.

On November 20th of 1889, Mahler conducted the first performance of what would become Sym. No. 1 in D Major. But when his baton came down in Budapest, the piece was described as a Symphonic Poem in Five Movements. The work was not favorably received.

1889 was a difficult year in Mahler's life. His father had passed away in February, and he lost his mother in October. This left him as the head of his family, responsible for four siblings after a sister died from a brain tumor. And Mahler himself underwent surgery for hemorrhoids in July. Such a procedure isn't enjoyable now, much less over a   century ago. And, of course, he was the chief conductor of the Royal Budapest Opera, with all of the attendant responsibilities and pressures.

So, November 20th is approaching. Mahler has a solid reputation as a gifted, even brilliant young conductor. But as a composer of symphonic music, he is an unknown quantity. The orchestra will be performing unfamiliar and complex music. The public will be curious, the critics skeptical. How can Mahler shift the odds a bit more in his favor?

Here is where l must put on my composer's hat and venture into the dangerous realm of conjecture...

This is my orchestra. We've had some success together, but only with me leading them in the re-creative role of the conductor. If l am to succeed as a composer, they must accept me as such... In order for that to occur, l must show them the full spectrum of the expressive power of orchestral music. They must know and believe that l can say anything - everything! - in my composing...


Mahler was in a vulnerable position. He needed every possible advantage. For a young composer, especially at the end of an exhausting year, that can mean the "  kitchen sink " approach. And by calling the work a " symphonic poem ", he is free of the formal constraints which had obtained for so long, and which could still provide ammunition for hostile critics... if he calls it a symphony.

So, a Symphonic Poem. Now he can have more than four movements, but he still needs more variety in expression. He is already showing the joy of the morning, a comic funeral parody, the smiling rustic dance, the striving against implacable foes with the inevitable triumph... What more, what more...

Perhaps... just a simple, lovely place to rest, and think a bit? No great challenges, nothing profound, just deep breaths and a little food and wine, and then we jump back into the adventure, all the more prepared.

Blumine certainly has a tone which is distinct from the four remaining movements of Mahler's First. It is uncomplicated, even unambitious. And facing an audience which has to contend with new, complex music from an artist they only knew by his baton, Mahler may have simply decided to give them something that would be relatively unchallenging. Blumine was already scored, is fairly easy to perform and would afford some of his orchestra an opportunity for rest, which is significant when premiering a major work.

So: Mahler decided he needed to display as much emotional range as was possible in this initial exposure of his symphonic ambitions. Blumine is easy to read and perform, is fairly accessible for an audience, and the score and parts were already created. Thus his decision to include it.

I think l will leave this here for tonight. I lost a couple hours and a few hundred words when my browser crashed, and atm l am tired and hungry. So, part two tomorrow.  8)

Regards,

LKB

Thanks for this - I personally thought your post was really interesting and it's nice to know a bit of your life story as well.
A belated welcome to the forum and I'll certainly be following this thread and your postings in future.

BTW: No worries if you don't want to answer this but are you a brand new or returning member?.
I was reading some of your other posts and your "style" seemed a bit familiar (or perhaps I'm getting you mixed up with someone else). :)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 12:49:43 AM by Conor71 »

Offline GioCar

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2017, 01:07:33 AM »
Thanks for this - I personally thought your post was really interesting and it's nice to know a bit of your life story as well.
A belated welcome to the forum and I'll certainly be following this thread and your postings in future.

+1 

And I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your thoughts, which look like putting a new and interesting perspective on Blumine.

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2017, 02:06:25 PM »
Thank you both for your support! 8)

To answer Conor71's question, " LKB " is my first incarnation here. I was unaware of the website until the week l began posting under that moniker.

Part two should be up in a few hours, I'll be starting on it shortly...

Regards,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2017, 02:14:53 PM »
First of all, thanks to Mahlerian for his post. He makes some valuable points, some of which I'll be expanding on, and l appreciate his input.

Thank you.  I read the entirety of your post as well, and found your perspective quite interesting.  I'm looking forward to the rest.

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2017, 11:33:12 PM »
Part the Second. Note - properly speaking, " Blumine " should be italicized i.e., Blumine. As I'm doing this on my phone and even basic typing is a pita, I'll ask readers to take the italics as read. Thanks.

The premiere of Mahler's " Symphonic Poem " on November 20th of 1889 was not well-received. No further performances would take place in Hungary under Mahler's baton, and his relationship with  the Royal Budapest Opera went sour in January of 1891. He resigned in March, having been offered the position of Chief Conductor at the Hamburg Municipal Theater.

In January of 1893, Mahler had an opportunity to revise his Symphonic Poem. In the course of his revisions he at first removed the interpolated Andante, then reinstated it with a title, " Blumine ". He also retitled the entire work as Titan: a Tone-Poem in Symphonic Form. It received its second performance on October 27th, 1893. Once again, the reception was not positive.

The third performance took place in Weimar on June 29th, 1894, with the work in the same form. This time the response was mixed, and the notices caught the eye of the teenaged Bruno Schlesinger, who was sufficiently fascinated that he traveled to Hamburg to meet Mahler and work with him if possible.

The concert in Weimar would be the last time Mahler conducted Blumine. The movement was removed from the work ( now in four movements and renamed as Symphony No. 1 ) for its next performance in Berlin on March 16th, 1896. Blumine would not be heard again for over seventy years.

 At some point afterward ( probably not before 1898 ), Mahler asked an acquaintance to destroy the piano reduction. The remaining score was lost during Allied bombing of Kassel in 1944.

I'll leave the story of Blumine's rediscovery for another time. What concerns us now is a determination of Mahler's possible motives in finally deleting Blumine from his First Symphony.

First, let's consider the Geneses of both Blumine and Sym. No. 1.

Blumine came about externally, via commission. Mahler wrote music to fit a play created by someone else.

Sym. No. 1 came about internally, and was a product of the creative compulsion Mahler  experienced throughout his life. It is an unalloyed expression of his perceptions and being, without external factors.

I don't believe Mahler took much pleasure in the incidental music. I suspect he looked on it as a necessary evil, which would raise his profile as a composer ( something he certainly needed at that point in his career ) and provide income. But it may well have seemed tainted to him, tawdry and impure.

There are also technical concerns with Blumine. The movement was completed in June of 1884, along with the rest of the incidental music. It was revised, along with other portions of Sym. No. 1, in early 1893, in preparation for the Hamburg concert in October. ( It is a copyist's manuscript from Hamburg, incorporating the revisions,  which survived and is the only extant version of Blumine. ) But despite this revision, the score exhibits at least one obvious error.

Now, l must ask the reader to bear with me. If you read music, you can follow along in the score, which is downloadable from the IMSLP:  http://imslp.eu/linkhandler.php?path=/imglnks/euimg/6/65/IMSLP271026-PMLP15427-Mahler-Sym1.BlumineMSS.pdf

TAKE NOTE OF THE COPYRIGHT/PD NOTICE BEFORE YOU DOWNLOAD.

At one measure after Rehearsal 16, the oboe part has a dotted quarter-note on f, followed by a dotted quarter-note on e, half a step lower. The first violins, in the same measure, have a quarter note on f, in unison with the oboe, but then drop a half-step to the e for the last eighth-note of the first beat. So now you have a half-step dissonance, e and f, violins against oboe, for an eighth-note's duration.

Mahler does use such dissonance in his works - he even employs it during the brief development section of Blumine - but to have this happening in the coda is stylistically uncharacteristic and, l think, technically untenable. So, why is it there?

Most likely, this is a copyist's error. I propose this because a) Mahler was unlikely to have made such an error while composing, but b) may have missed a copyist's error while proofreading, assuming he had the opportunity to do so in Hamburg.

There is always the chance, of course, that Mahler intended the dissonance, but the totality of his musical style speaks against that being the case. Particularly in early Mahler, when one of his gentler movements is coming to its end, consonance reigns. There may be half-step appoggiaturas or neighboring tones, but not clusters.

So, a copyist's mistake which Mahler overlooked ( if he had the chance to proofread in the first place ).

Another possible reason Mahler deleted Blumine may have been simply to shorten the work. Mahler's First ( with four movements ) usually has a duration of around fifty-five minutes. Including Blumine brings that up just over an hour...not a huge difference, you might think. But conservative critics had already been slamming the work. Mahler might have figured that making it shorter, and putting it into four movements, might mollify at least some of the critical opposition.

Additionally, Blumine is tonally limited. By that l mean it doesn't display the same emotional breadth that is present elsewhere in the symphony... Nothing much happens, there's no real drama. It's nice music, but really doesn't move beyond that. The sun is out, then it gets a bit cloudy, then sunny again... The End.

" But... Wait, you said that was a GOOD thing back in Part One. You said he needed to have a restful movement, for emotional variety and to give the orchestra and audience a breather... "

Yes, when Mahler was premiering the work, and for the next two performances - Hamburg and Weimar - l think he wanted Blumine included for those two reasons. But after the Weimar concert, two significant events transpired. One would enhance Mahler's status as a composer, and the other would render Blumine obsolete.

On December 13th, 1895 in Berlin, Mahler premiered his Sym. No. 2 in its completed form. While the critics were divided, performers and audience alike were strongly enthusiastic. While it would still be years before his symphonies began to be widely performed in Europe, this concert marked a turning point in the acceptance of his compositional endeavors.

The second event was the composition of his Third Symphony. This had begun in the summer of 1895, and would be completed in August of 1896, some five months after the Berlin performance of Sym. No. 1.

Once Mahler experienced a measure of success with Sym. No. 2, l believe he gained confidence, and began to see Blumine as a liability. The same aspects of the movement that made it desirable in the early days of Sym. No. 1 might work against him now... It could possibly hold him back. His development in Sym. No. 2 was obvious, and should generate interest in No. 1. The last thing he wanted was music from twelve years before ( Sym. No. 1 was completed in 1887, more than two years after Blumine )... Music which no longer represented his capabilities or what he needed to express. Music which, after all, hadn't been his idea in the first place.

Some might argue this point: If Blumine was " too old ", then Sym. No. 1 must be as well. But whereas Blumine was completed in the space of at most a few weeks, the symphony required over two years, representing a significant expenditure in Mahler's limited time and energy. He would have placed the highest value on the work, regardless of its age. And, it had more opportunities for revision, whereas Blumine would only have one.

When Mahler completed his Third Symphony in 1896, it was the end of Blumine's usefulness. Everything which the movement had to offer, in terms of expression and musical utility, had been achieved or exceeded within the first three symphonies. While the exact date of Mahler's request for the destruction of the piano reduction is apparently unknown, l think it unlikely to have occurred prior to the final revisions of Sym. No. 1 in 1898. Mahler would have wanted it intact out of an abundance of caution, just in case. Once the revisions were finalized and went in, the half-loved reminder of earlier failure and compromise could be erased.

I believe that Mahler's decision was appropriate. Sym. No. 1 sprang from Mahler's innate creative drive, whereas Blumine was commissioned by a paying customer. This may have tainted the piece in Mahler's view, and he may also have felt some discomfort at using a commissioned work outside of its intended purpose ( speculation on my part, but a possibility ).

Finally, Blumine had served as raw material, its ultimate function. Having fertilized Mahler's first three symphonies ( as shall be demonstrated ), it now had no function, and Mahler saw no reason for its continued performance or existence.

Part Three later today, hopefully.

Regards,

LKB

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2017, 06:18:15 PM »
Sorry again, Part Three tomorrow. Tonight l am exploring.

87,192 iterations and counting,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline André

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2017, 07:11:41 PM »
LKB, this is extremely interesting and, furthermore, extremely well written (precise, concise, to the point). I take great pleasure in following your recension of the facts and your arguments. It's like reading a detective novel: I can't wait for the rest !

I look forward to your thoughts on how the inclusion of Blumine in a performance affects the structure and the storytelling (it started life as a tone poem, after all) from the conductor's standpoint, and how we, the listeners, should listen to it: as a standalone work, or as the second movement of the five-movement First symphony.

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2017, 11:36:26 AM »
Thanks Andre,

Feedback is always valuable and l appreciate it. Part Three should go up tonight, after lunch I'll start hunting through scores and noting bars of interests. lt may take awhile though, and the result may not appear before many have retired for the evening.

Time now for pasta,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline LKB

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2017, 09:28:32 PM »
After thinking it over, I've realized that Parts 3 & 4 should be combined into one final section in my explorations of Blumine, its history and Mahler's relationship to the piece.

Part 3 as envisioned would have demonstrated that some of the musical material from Blumine found its way into other works of Mahler. But l realized that l can show this fairly briefly with just a few examples; a listing of  every possible reference to Blumine and its location is not necessary to make the point.

I've also realized that the relationship of Blumine to the trio of the third movement of Sym. No. 3 can be defined in fairly general terms, without specific reference to their scores. Interested parties who wish to investigate in further detail can do so.

I'll conclude by adding some final thoughts regarding Blumine, and include my opinions as to how it might be appropriately presented.

So, Part the Final...

Gustav Mahler conducted Blumine for the last time on June 29th, 1894, in Weimar.

At some point between 1894 and 1898, he asked an acquaintance to destroy the associated piano reduction. This left the score which had remained at Kassel after Mahler moved on to Hamburg. Since that score resulted from a commission, it would presumably remain the property of the theater there - his  " customer ", as it were. In any case, it was lost in 1944 in the course of an Allied bombing raid.

While Blumine itself would lay hidden and unheard until 1966, there are passages in other works of Mahler which recall parts of it, though not unambiguously ( I know of no Mahler in which Blumine is quoted verbatim ). Here are a few examples:

Sym. No. 1, Fourth Movement. Looking at the horns in measures 96 & 97,  the melodic line ( a version of the second half of the first phrase in the subject ) is reasonably close to that of the trumpet solo at Rehearsal 2 in Blumine. What is striking is that the respective passages could not present a greater contrast in terms of the emotional content. In Blumine, the feeling is quietly joyful, the trumpet raising its song in serene exaltation. In the symphony, the horns are desperately calling out in the midst of the movement's opening battle. It may be worth noting that Mahler calls particular attention to the horns by having them play the phrase offset by one beat. I think this a likely example of Blumine informing Sym. No. 1. There are other, less likely candidates, for example:

In Blumine at Rehearsal 5, the flute introduces a motive which re-occurs in the oboe one measure after  Rehearsal 11. This pattern is heard again in the final movement of Sym. No. 2 in the winds at Rehearsal 7, and in the trumpet during the later section with the off-stage brass and timpani. However, this pattern, consisting of a longer note moving momentarily upward a half-step and then back down, is heard in at least one of Mahler's early songs. It also occurs at the beginning of Part Two in the Eighth Symphony. It may therefore simply be a stylistic hallmark, not to be attributed to a specific work.

Undoubtedly, other works of Mahler exhibit passages which may call Blumine to mind. I'll leave it to the reader to investigate further, having provided a starting point.

I can still recall my reaction to hearing the posthorn solos in Mahler's Third for the first time. It was Bernstein's first cycle with his NYPO, recorded for Columbia/CBS in the early 1960's.

As the high strings resolve into stillness, a singing brass voice is suddenly audible in the distance. Like phantom memories assembling to the calls of some timeless bugler, the echoes of childhood heroes slowly coalesce in the golden, resonant air...

This is something akin to what every audience should experience with the posthorn solos, especially the first. And in its contributions to the development and character of them, Blumine performs its most valuable function.

Taking the very end of the initial presentation of the trumpet melody in Blumine, the final the notes are concert D, up a major sixth to B, then down a major third to G. This same pattern ( and its inversion ) is replicated for the posthorn several times, transposed down a step. I do not believe this to be coincidence, any more than the 6/8 meter, dynamic level and phrasing structure, all shared with Blumine, are coincidence.

The posthorn solos are, l think, ultimate expressions of what Mahler intended with the Blumine trumpet solos. They sound and feel very much alike, as any listener can detect. But it is in seeing the scores that the extent of their relationship becomes fully evident.

For this reason, anyone who enjoys these remarkable posthorn  interludes in the Third Symphony, which stand apart from anything else in Mahler ( excepting Blumine, of course ), should be grateful that at one point in his life he found it necessary to accept a commission.

In the course of this multi-part essay, I've engaged in some guesswork, conjecture, speculation... call it what you will. This was unavoidable, since there are gaps in the history and timeline of Blumine, and Mahler never kept a diary or journal that has come to light, though there are letters. We will probably never know the full or final reasons for his ambivalence and ultimate rejection of Blumine. I hope l have presented some possible motives and ways of thinking concerning his decisions.

Finally, there are the practical questions of how we should regard the piece today. I have come to some conclusions, but they are not necessarily more or less valid than anyone elses.

A brief anecdote is appropriate here, which will hopefully illustrate the personal importance Mahler has for me.

While l was principal oboe at university, the conductor of the orchestra there was principal in the local metropolitan orchestra ( not an uncommon occurrence ). Her orchestra was about to perform Mahler's Second, and l would be singing in the chorus. We were chatting in her office, and she asked me which Mahler symphony was my favorite. After a moment's thought, l replied, " l think my favorite is my Ninth. "

Not Mahler's Ninth... my Ninth.

She laughed, and l was confused until l realized what had come out of my mouth. It's probably the only time I've blushed as an adult, a classic Freudian slip.

I relate that because it shows my affinity with Mahler, and once the fact of being a composer is added in, l must admit the possibility that where Mahler is concerned, perfect objectivity may not be attainable.

That being said, I've reached the following conclusions regarding the presentation of Blumine:

In live performance, Blumine should never be performed as part of Mahler's First Symphony.

Having said that, let me add that l do believe audiences should have the opportunity of hearing the piece live. There are at least two ways to accomplish this. One is to arrange for the piece to open the program, followed by the rest of the music for the first half. After intermission, Mahler's First constitutes the second half. This would allow an audience to hear the piece and the symphony at the same concert, while still observing Mahler's wishes.

The second manner of presenting Blumine might be a sort of reversal of how Mahler's Sym. No. 10 Adagio is sometimes presented along with the First.

In this program, Blumine is presented, followed immediately by Mahler's Ninth Symphony,  essentially a different angle on the " bookending " concept above.

Those are my thoughts on live performance. In recordings, it doesn't really matter since listeners can skip movements as they please.

I think that about does it. Hopefully readers will find food for thought in my efforts. Putting this together on my phone wasn't exactly a blissful experience, but l believe the result wasworthwhile, and l hope others will agree.

Cheers,

LKB
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen...

Offline Biffo

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2017, 12:31:57 AM »
The score of the 1893 Hamburg version survives and has been recorded. It is 'Titan, eine Tondichtung in Symphonieform' - Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ole Kristian Rudd. The disc is on the Simax label and also has the Piano Quartet in A inor movement, another bit of early Mahler.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mahler-Symphony-No-Piano-Quartet/dp/B000038I81/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1508315583&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=ole+kristian+rudd

Many thanks to LKB for his thoughtful postings.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 12:33:58 AM by Biffo »

Offline André

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Re: Mahler's Blumine
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2017, 05:48:59 PM »
Very thankful for the insights and efforts (typing this on your phone!). Utterly fascinating insight, as if for once we're not looking at something, but rather experiencing it from the inside out.

I'm glad you mentioned the 9th symphony as, while reading parts 1 and 2 of your post, I kept in the back of my head a thought about a very special moment in the 9th: in the scherzo there is a lambently beautiful episode that is fully developed about 2/3 of the way through (sorry, no bar numbers or rehearsal cues for me  :().. I always think of it as the "moonlight music". Sort of a musical equivalent of a Caspar David Friedrich "moonlight" painting (there are many: it was a favourite theme of his). Would you say that Blumine, the posthorn solos of symphony no 3 and the moonlight music of 9 share a common trait: the musical description of a specific mahlerian psychological mood?

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