Author Topic: Mahler Mania, Rebooted  (Read 507955 times)

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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4740 on: June 28, 2020, 05:11:02 AM »
I have been to the alps many times and have heard cowbells frequently as well but once I stayed at a hut at the end of some valley and in the early evening one got the somewhat disembodied sound not quite localizable cowbells in the distance but not that far away. It was both homely and strange at the same time and I can never hear Mahler's cowbells now without being remined of that particular mood.

That was exactly what he was trying to evoke, that sense of distance and isolation which one can feel upon hearing some barely recognizable familiar sound without seeing the source.

So few writers on the Sixth Symphony seem to mention the way that the cowbells return at the climax of the movement, as if in a mocking reversal of their appearance at the E major section, where they were allied with that moment of transcendent tranquility, but to me it's one of the many fascinating touches of Mahler's music, where the meaning of a particular timbre shifts over time and takes on greater nuance.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 05:26:41 AM by Mahlerian »
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Madiel

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4741 on: June 28, 2020, 03:22:23 PM »
I don't see how any of this contradicts what I said. Shostakovich was a fine composer, and of course his music also responded to Mahler's. As I've said before on this site, I think the Shostakovich Fourth Symphony is one of the best musical responses to Mahler's Sixth, along with Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra. Nor do I think of Shostakovich as a "random offshoot" of 20th century music. He too was clearly influenced by Schoenberg, Berg, and Stravinsky (and Hindemith).

You described Shostakovich as peripheral.

Sorry, but conversations with you regularly devolve into you rejecting every attempt to understand what you're saying as inadequate. I shan't bother playing along on this occasion, because it really isn't worth the energy. I will inevitably get it 'wrong' as I apparently already have. Because you say all this after saying Shostakovich was peripheral... I'm not chasing the ball.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 03:24:19 PM by Madiel »
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4742 on: June 28, 2020, 10:37:15 PM »
Mahlerian took up "peripheral" from a quote. "paralleling a reassessment of the history of twentieth-century music in which Shostakovich
would emerge as central and Schoenberg as peripheral." This quote is IMO an obvious exaggeration. It seems clearly true to me that until the late 20th century Shostakovich had been in fact considered peripheral and Schoenberg central. This was not only rooted in the "modernists" dominance in musicology as among critics and musicians not totally on board with the modernist view Shostakovich was often also considered peripheral, or simply ignored, sometimes for political reasons. (Counting recordings and performances in the West, I am pretty certain that Prokofiev easily beats DSCH until the early 1980s or even early 90s) Boulez was no champion of DSCH but neither was Karl Boehm. While there has been a huge rise in popularity of Shostakovich in the last decades and he is no longer seen as peripheral, I very much doubt that the inversion Botstein claims has generally taken place in musical history and musicology, it does seem a minority opinion. Central does not just mean that someone wrote some important music (this seems hardly denied, so in that respect there was a revaluation of Shostakovich) but also that this music was extremely influential for the further development of musical history etc. It would be interesting how Botstein would back up such a claim wrt to the relative positions of Schoenberg and DSCH. So Botstein has a very bold thesis here whereas Mahlerian is basically sticking to the communis opinio of Western musicology (and many Western musicians) that prevailed until very recently.
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Offline Total Rafa

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4743 on: June 29, 2020, 05:50:02 AM »
As many people here probably know, I'm one of those people who sees Schoenberg as central and Shostakovich as peripheral to 20th century music.

[...]

I understand that many others feel the opposite, that the important thing about Mahler is his Romantic side, and the Modern aspects are either secondary or, perhaps, not connected to the Second Viennese School in any significant way. This is why I often see people say X composer is "like Mahler" and am baffled, because they are discussing music from a completely different perspective that locates Mahler's identity in other aspects of the music. For me, seeing Mahler allied with anti-modernism is baffling.

Which aspects do people here see as important?

Well I think that the 'modern' aspects of Mahler's music are quite important in assessing his significance and influence.

Having said that, I find the supposed link between Mahler's music and the Second Viennese School to be highly flattering to the latter group of composers. Similar in a way to the 'Brahms the progressive' thesis. Composers like Schoenberg felt like they had to keep on making the point that they were continuing some sort of tradition, as if to attach greater importance to their own music. For me, Mahler's mastery of form, expression, orchestration, aesthetic, structure, etc. is on a completely higher level, irrespective of whether his 'successors' were writing tonal or 12-tone music.

I hadn't previously read much on the influence of the Second Viennese School on Shostakovich, something which doesn't strike me as particularly obvious. Any attempt to cast Shostakovich aside to any kind of 'periphery' presumably is largely down to his persistence with a tonal language deep into the 20th century, something which clearly wouldn't sit with Boulez and other 'modernists'.

The lasting appeal and greatness of Shostakovich's music transcends any and all trivial debate.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 05:52:19 AM by Total Rafa »

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4744 on: June 29, 2020, 06:36:22 AM »
Well I think that the 'modern' aspects of Mahler's music are quite important in assessing his significance and influence.

Having said that, I find the supposed link between Mahler's music and the Second Viennese School to be highly flattering to the latter group of composers. Similar in a way to the 'Brahms the progressive' thesis. Composers like Schoenberg felt like they had to keep on making the point that they were continuing some sort of tradition, as if to attach greater importance to their own music. For me, Mahler's mastery of form, expression, orchestration, aesthetic, structure, etc. is on a completely higher level, irrespective of whether his 'successors' were writing tonal or 12-tone music.

The link is not at all incidental; the Second Viennese School were heavily linked to Mahler in technique and expression, and they were the only ones who actually appreciated Mahler's music at a time when the wider musical world thought of him as either an incomprehensible noisemaker or a creator of overblown bombastic monstrosities (to list only the views that didn't openly express anti-Semitism).

Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performances programmed Mahler often, and he was likewise to be a part of the famous Skandalkonzert of 1913 if Berg's songs hadn't been interrupted by rioting. Webern conducted a performance of Mahler's Sixth in the 1930s that was supposedly quite revelatory, and Schoenberg conducted the slow movement from the Second in a performance that survives in recording.

On top of that, one can point to all kinds of reflections of Mahler in the use of particular timbres in the Second Viennese School, from the guitar and mandolin in Webern's Five Pieces Op. 10 or Schoenberg's Serenade to the hammerblows of Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra, aside from the general soloistic character mentioned above, which contemporary critics linked to Mahler even while he was still alive. Mahler himself was good friends with Schoenberg (although they clashed often, as one might expect from two such egos), and purchased a whole bunch of his paintings anonymously simply to support his struggling friend.

Naturally, the music of any composer is not important because of its links to earlier important music, and none of this music would have had the staying power it has if it weren't successful on its own merits.

I hadn't previously read much on the influence of the Second Viennese School on Shostakovich, something which doesn't strike me as particularly obvious. Any attempt to cast Shostakovich aside to any kind of 'periphery' presumably is largely down to his persistence with a tonal language deep into the 20th century, something which clearly wouldn't sit with Boulez and other 'modernists'.

I don't consider Shostakovich's music any more tonal than the later Schoenberg. While he uses a lot of triads and diatonic elements, his music doesn't employ functional harmony except for occasional effect (which one can say of the later Schoenberg just as easily).

Anyway, Shostakovich admired Berg his whole life and said so frequently, despite the official Soviet line that disparaged the 12-tone method as bourgeois formalism. One of his early commentaries has him listing Schoenberg as well amid his foremost influences:

Quote from: Wiki
Articles Shostakovich published in 1934 and 1935 cited Berg, Schoenberg, Krenek, Hindemith, "and especially Stravinsky" among his influences.

The lasting appeal and greatness of Shostakovich's music transcends any and all trivial debate.

I wasn't attempting to disparage Shostakovich. I was simply saying that he's not central to my personal view of the 20th century. Some of his music is quite good.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4745 on: July 06, 2020, 12:27:59 PM »
Happy birthday Gustav!
(Also happens to be mine!)  :)

Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4746 on: July 06, 2020, 02:35:47 PM »
Happy birthday Gustav!
(Also happens to be mine!)  :)

Happy birthday. It's nice sharing your birthday with a great master—I share mine with Bob Dylan, which I always thought was pretty cool  ;D

I'm going to listen to a Mahler symphony in the morning, haven't decided which... likely 6, 8 or 9.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Mahler Mania, Rebooted
« Reply #4747 on: July 06, 2020, 06:23:58 PM »
Ah yes, it’s Mahler’s birthday tomorrow. I guess I should listen to something, too. ;) I’ll probably listen to the 3rd and then one of his song cycles. After this, I think I’ll listen to his 7th since I’ve been meaning to swing back around to this symphony for quite some time.
“There will be sunshine again and the violins will sing of peace on earth.” - Closing line from Weinberg’s Symphony No. 6, Op. 79