Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

It is hard to give an overall description of Mahler on a post like this, so I'll focus on the basics of his style, as well as the piece that is now uploaded (hopefully more will come later).

Mahler was the ultimate German late romantic. He based most of his ideas off of earlier romantic composers like Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner, etc. and took them to the maximum level possible. His harmonies are far more modern, and the size of his works is far more immense than his counterparts, but his music is still rooted in the ideals of the Romantic Era.

His most well known works are his nine symphonies, and the third is an example of the massive scale that Mahler symphonies have both in physical size and in the amount of music performers must play. The 1st movement is posted, and it is the half-hour introduction to a two-part, six-movement symphony that lasts over an hour and a half. Mahler wrote what each movement is supposed to represent:
1. What rocks tell me, 2. What flowers tell me, 3. What animals tell me, 4. What man tells me, 5. What angels tell me, 6. What love tells me (love he believed to be a "supremely transcendental force")
The symphony contains a large string section along with 8 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, flugelhorn, 2 sets of timpani, 2 harps, various percussion instruments, alto solo, and boys chorus (voices are only in 4th and 5th movements), not to mention the large woodwind section. The brass is featured throughout, especially in the opening unison horn call, and a trombone recitative later on. Though a half hour epic about rocks may not seem exciting, it truly is.

Mahler- Symphony No. 3 in d minor, 1st movement

New York Philharmonic-Bernstein, Deutsche Grammophon


At June 23, 2006, Blogger stephen said...

This is brilliant, and very, very funny. The music is also quite good :D

My favourite Mahler is the colossal, monumental 8th symphony. My favourite recording of it is the Solti (I think it's generally regarded as the definitive.) At the risk of making more work for you, perhaps others would like to hear this...


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