Gustav Mahler

James L. Zychowicz

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Gustav Mahler

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Gustav Mahler (b. 1860–d. 1911) is known for the Lieder and symphonies he composed, which may be seen to bring the 19th-century developments in both genres into the early 20th century. In working both with and without texts in his symphonies, Mahler made use of intertextual references to his own vocal music, and he also included quotations and allusions to works by other composers. In this way, Mahler infused his symphonic music with associated meanings that intersect his musical structures. He thus created highly connotative pieces that did not necessarily require the explicit programs connected to some of the symphonic poems of the late 19th century. In addition, he incorporated vocal music in his symphonies by recasting songs instrumentally, as with the Scherzo of the Second Symphony or the Adagietto of the Fifth Symphony; he also used orchestral songs as movements in his Second, Third, and Fourth Symphonies, the last culminating in the Song-Finale “Das himmlische Leben.” Mahler built on the precedent found in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony by using the chorus in the Finale of his Second Symphony and in both parts of the Eighth. These elements, along with others found in the nine symphonies, reflect his innovative approaches to this genre. Mahler also composed approximately fifty songs, including several cycles, which may be seen to culminate in the symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde. He was also one of the most respected conductors of his day, and his influence may be seen in the integrity he brought to opera production, not only by restoring cuts previously taken with the works of Mozart and Wagner, but also by intensifying opera production through his strategic use of innovative new staging techniques in his productions. In the century since his death, Mahler’s music has become familiar to a cross-section of international audiences, through its pervasive inclusion in concert programs, as well as its prominence in recordings. The composer’s name has become synonymous with postmodern culture through the adjective “Mahlerian,” which has also been used to describe late-20th-century culture as “a generation of Mahlerians.”

Article.  10295 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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