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post #946 of 3714
I see Mahler as the culmination of Romanticism, and the prophet of something new - just as Beethoven in his time was the culmination of Classicism and the prophet of Romanticism. The difference is that while LvB gave birth to Romanticism, Mahler's world was followed by the apocalypse of WW1, and as a result there are no real descendants, no one who carried the torch farther. Not that there hasn't been good music since (there has) but Mahler is an end unto himself, whereas the line from Beethoven can be traced through Wagner to Mahler with numberous branches along the way.

I don't see a coherent "progression" after Mahler; rather a branching into numerous divergent paths. Contrary to many others, I don't think that Mahler can be seen as the father of serialism, etc., since his music was neglected for half a century. Instead, I see him as amazingly prophetic for our times as Lenny stated; in other words, not a father as much as a visionary.

Just my opinion.

P.S. Fun to read Lenny's political views after all this time! I'm sure we can all guess how he'd respond to today's world.
post #947 of 3714
As an example of how wrong-headed one composer can be about the work of another one Ralph Vaughan-Williams did not consider Mahler to be the culmination of the Romantic period, nor the bridge between the Romantic and twentieth century. For Vaughan Williams Mahler was simple "a tolerable imitation of a composer". I've never quite been able to forgive him for that.

In my opinion Mahler was all the things he has been described as in this thread. It seems to me that if he had lived to complete his tenth symphony we may have had the bridge between the Romantic era and the second Viennese school, notably Berg. I can hear a lot of Mahler in Berg, maybe that is why I prefer Berg to Schoenberg and Webern. There is a story of Mahler standing alone in applauding a work of Schoenberg when it was receiving universal condemnation from the rest of the audience. And of course Mahler did financially assist Schoenberg, when the younger composer was struggling. But it is difficult to imagine Mahler really embracing serialism as a composing technique. Mahler's work is just too huge, messy, pantheistic (the march of the first movement of the third symphony is for me chaotic nature erupting rather than efficiently militaristic that comes in the first movement of the sixth) and in the best sense human, to really fall into the more academic processes of serialism.

Whatever we should just be grateful that we live in a time when his genius is recognised and we can easily hear his music in the concert hall and through innumerable great recordings.
post #948 of 3714
By the way, I was listening to Lenny's Brahms (Royal Edition, what?!) when the insight popped into my consciousness, so it's fitting that we think of him. Also, just because the general public may not have had great knowledge of Mahler doesn't mean that the composers working after his death were equally ignorant of his work. Mahler himself introduced his music to America and was a very popular conductor in Vienna. Who knows how Mahler himself would have evolved had he survived longer. I am sure that music would be very much richer had he lived longer.

I also agree with Doc S. that musical traditions grow and develop in a manner similar to the diagrams of the evolution of the species where it is drawn more as a bush with many different branches growing out of older branches from the main stem. Mahler is another branch that has given off many different shoots, and perhaps it took longer for some of those shoots to germinate and flower, but we cannot deny that so much that is created today has been inspired and nurtured by his work.
post #949 of 3714
Quote:
Along with Strauss, Sibelius and, yes, Schoenberg, Mahler sang the last rueful songs of nineteenth-century romanticism. But Strauss’s extraordinary gifts went the route of a not very subjective virtuosity; Sibelius and Schoenberg found their own extremely different but personal routes into the new century. Mahler was left straddling; his destiny was to sum up, package, and lay to ultimate rest the fantastic treasure that was German-Austrian music from Bach to Wagner.
I see Mahler and Bruckner as the final moments of Romanticism. Bruckner seems to follow the thread more directly, clearly taking much inspiration from Richard Wagner. Mahler, on the other hand, as Bernstein notes, seems to be the culmination of the Romantic period. They share the honor as the last heirs of the greats, as I do not see any other linear inheritor. What was once a fairly linear progression has exploded into many, many paths. Modernism, for me, denotes a multiplicity of styles and genres, rather than one alone. The great Western musical tradition did not end with them, but the linear one certainly did.
post #950 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley Shawcros
As an example of how wrong-headed one composer can be about the work of another one Ralph Vaughan-Williams did not consider Mahler to be the culmination of the Romantic period, nor the bridge between the Romantic and twentieth century. For Vaughan Williams Mahler was simple "a tolerable imitation of a composer". I've never quite been able to forgive him for that.
Vaugn-Williams was not alone in his attitude to Mahler. From the beginning of his career as a composer he was viewed as inadequate. His mentor, Von Bülow actually said that great conductors such as Mahler do not necessarily make great composers. I know many today who "just don't get" Mahler and consider him just a confused hodgepodge. I also know many who view Jackson Pollack's spatter paintings as something that a monkey could create. Beethoven was really unique in that he was as popular while alive as he is now. Even Mozart went in and out of style in his lifetime. Schubert also was so unpopular that when Mendelssohn wanted to introduce his work in London, the orchestra refused to perform it, and in protest Mendelssohm threatened to withdraw his own work which was extremely popular at the time.
Quote:
Whatever we should just be grateful that we live in a time when his genius is recognised and we can easily hear his music in the concert hall and through innumerable great recordings.
Amen!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
I see Mahler and Bruckner as the final moments of Romanticism.
Bruckner perhaps is the culmination of the great romantic tradition of Wagner, but I don't see Mahler as the end of anything. Instead he is the beginning of a whole new tradition in music. He does stand upon the shoulders of the great Romantics of the 19th century, but his music is not romantic so much as anti-romantic. No matter how I look at Mahler, I just can't place him within the romantic tradition anymore that I can place Picasso into the framework of 19th century art. He is as much a romantic composer as Picasso was a neo-classicist in his rose period. Both used the forms of the styles of the earlier periods in their works but they used to them so differently as to make the things completely different. The beginning of the 20th century saw the genesis of so many world changing ideas, from Einstein's new theories to Picasso's cubism, to Mahler's anti-romanticism, to Freud's new understanding of the human psyche. Although they stand on the shoulders of their predecessors they have taken what came before and turned it upside down and inside out to give birth to new styles and forms. Mahler's relevance to our own troubled and turbulent times is only evidence that his works were not merely transitional, but also seminal.

It is our very great loss that Mahler died so very prematurely. Only imagine what might have been if he had lived as long as Picasso.
post #951 of 3714
Another interesting "what if" about Mahler comes from the fact that on his last trip back to Europe, he took a copy of Ives' 3rd Symphony with him. Imagine how differently things might have been if he had lived long enough to promote Ives and absorb some of that in his own compositions!
post #952 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Another interesting "what if" about Mahler comes from the fact that on his last trip back to Europe, he took a copy of Ives' 3rd Symphony with him. Imagine how differently things might have been if he had lived long enough to promote Ives and absorb some of that in his own compositions!
Wow!
post #953 of 3714
Speaking of composers' opinions of other composers, does anyone know the meaning of the quote of Liszt's 1st Piano concerto in the 1st mvt of Mahler's 6th? I guess it might be some sort of sarcastic reference to the fact that Liszt was a judge on the review panel that rejected "Das Klagende Lied" when Mahler was a student.
post #954 of 3714
Just speculating here!

You may be on to something! Take a look at this from The Mahler Symphonies,
A synoptic survey by Tony Duggan
Mahler Symphony No 6
Quote:
But this is creatively deceptive because there is no work of Mahler's which is, by the end of it, more despairing and pessimistic. Alone among his symphonies, mirroring only his first major work "Das Klagende Lied", it ends in complete disaster after a last movement where Mahler seems to be dramatising in music humanity and its very condition. Our "hero" keeps pressing forward, imbued with optimism, only to be struck down three times by blows of fate amidst the battering of those march rhythms and a particularly nasty fate motif on timpani carried over from the first movement.
post #955 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Bruckner perhaps is the culmination of the great romantic tradition of Wagner, but I don't see Mahler as the end of anything. Instead he is the beginning of a whole new tradition in music.
I can see your point, but I must respectfully differ. For me, Mahler is the only place Romanticism could go. There was but one way for music to go from the opening of Tristan und Isolde, and Mahler was it. When the innovations of the late 18th/early 19th C's. were adopted, things began to boil down quickly. For me, the prime mover in the closing of the book was Wagner. The man was an absolute beast, but he managed to innovate in such a way that his successors were profoundly affected. Mahler was his own man and not a creature of destiny alone, so he played around, but--as far as I am concerned--he finished the business of the German/Austrian musical tradition. Everything else that might deserve mention has been a rehash of him or his predecessors.

Quote:
He does stand upon the shoulders of the great Romantics of the 19th century, but his music is not romantic so much as anti-romantic. No matter how I look at Mahler, I just can't place him within the romantic tradition anymore that I can place Picasso into the framework of 19th century art.
I guess I see "anti-romantic" music as the only place Romanticism could go after Wagner and Bruckner. Really, Mahler was the last, but there was a gentle landing from Wagner to Mahler.
That may indeed be the case; however, I think I have made my point and I don't want to get excessively tiresome. Moderate tedium is all I seek to create.
post #956 of 3714
I certainly agree that Mahler hammered the nails into the coffin of romanticism, but I still feel that he had already made the transition away from it. Was Mahler the only direction that Romanticism could have moved towards? Romanticism in Germany and Austria certainly died or metamorphosed, as evidenced by the works of Richard Strauss, Alban Berg and Schoenberg and Webern. Was this as a result of Mahler's innovations, the cataclysm of World War 1 or just because the movement could no longer sustain itself in the atmosphere of early 20th century Germany and Austria? Who knows, but just consider the other music being composed in the same period: Stravinsky, Ives, Milhaud, Satie, Debussy, Sibelius, Grieg were all active composers!

When you consider that Grieg, Sibelius and even the later Vaughn-Williams and Aaron Copland fall into the net of nationalistic romanticism, then perhaps it is premature to say that Mahler nailed any coffin shut. I think that Hartley Shawcros's comment that Vaughn-Williams despised Mahler is very telling. For some reason, I just don't think that Mahler fits in with Grieg or Sibelius, and his music in my mind shares more with Shostakovich in it's biting sarcasm and ironies. Shostakovich certainly used the ideas and forms of romantic music for his own purposes, turning them upside down and inside out the way Mahler did. In fact, the dissonances that Mahler used in passing come to the forefront in Shostakovich. For me Mahler stands apart from romanticism, in his own space linked loosely but inevitably with later developments in 20th century music.
post #957 of 3714
I think we are calling the same phenomenon two different names. I also think we are interpreting it differently. What I call--admittedly conservatively--the last gasp of Romanticism, I think you call a sort of in-between moment inhabited by one artist.
post #958 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
For some reason, I just don't think that Mahler fits in with Grieg or Sibelius, and his music in my mind shares more with Shostakovich in it's biting sarcasm and ironies.
Well, of course, Sibelius and Mahler did meet and disagreed fundamentally about the nature of the symphony. Sibleius admired the inner logic of the symphonic form and Mahler disagreed with the result being the famous quote that the symphony 'should be like the world' and contain everything.

As for Shostakovich I think I'm right in saying that he refused the invitation to work on the sketches of Mahler's unfinished tenth symphony, despite admitting the influence Mahler had had on his misic. But I may be mistaken.
post #959 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
I think we are calling the same phenomenon two different names. I also think we are interpreting it differently. What I call--admittedly conservatively--the last gasp of Romanticism, I think you call a sort of in-between moment inhabited by one artist.
I almost see Mahler is a genre unto himself.

Baroque - Classical - Romantic - Late-Romantic - Mahler - Everything After..

I definately agree that before Mahler there was pretty much one, albiet wandering, road.. After Mahler the road split into dozens of different paths. Now, I'm not saying that it can be totally attributed to Mahler, I think the year 1900 seem to cause an erupution of new-thinking all over the world, and subsequent destruction the likes of which were never seen before. That Mahler was there at the time seems to make sense when you look at his music. The horror, the beauty, it was all there.

-jar
post #960 of 3714
Masonjar (may I call you jar?)

I think you have hit the nut on the head! It is similar to the place that Michelangelo also holds in art. In his early career with works like the Pietá he is the essence of the high renaissance whereas in his late works (unfinished pietá in the duomo of Florence, for instance), and especially his architecture (Campidoglio) he has become mannerist. He has taken all of the elements of the high renaissance and shifted them into the new style. With Mahler, we have so little that is truly romantic. Everything that we have of his speaks of a rejection of the spirit of the romantic even while it uses the vocabulary of the romantic. He stands alone because what he did was so unique and difficult that no one else wanted to tackle the problems he uncovered in his work in the same way he would have attacked them.

Hartley Cros,

If I were Shostakovich I would have refused to finish Mahler's 10th as well; could you imagine Haydn being asked to finish Mozart's Requiem?
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