Originally Posted by Masonjar
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.
To take the idea further: While I'm not an expert on Mahler's life (yet!), I've become convinced that he believed - and even feared - that he had a mystical power to call upon fate/God/Providence with his music. That would explain his reticence with the hammerblows in M6, the Kindertotenlieder nightmare, his statements on Das Lied, etc. He was in awe of his own genius, and saw it as something detached from himself.
I think that if you put yourself in his head, you can imagine him writing his symphonies based on some mega-programme (which I think he did; they all sound like movements of one continuous work to me), all the while fearing he was calling down some cosmic destiny on himself (and the world). Now, imagine how Mahler would feel reading Bernstein's assessment that Mahler predicted the entire 20th century! I submit that Mahler would fear that he actually caused it.
Just fun speculation...
P.S. I've been listening a lot to M3 lately. Does anyone else notice the Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra quotes in the 4th movement? I've never read that described, but it would certainly make sense. Has this been documented elsewhere?