Musical composition of the third symphony
Peculiarities of the form
Characteristics of acoustic material
Nietzche’s influence reflected in musical features
The Christian joy replacing the quest for eternity
Allusions and quotations in the third symphony
Introduction The third symphony by Mahler is recognized as one of his longest and most amazing works. The third symphony implements the composer’s aesthetical views concerning the structure, contour, tune and acoustic material of musical works and combines the influence of Nietzsche’s philosophical framework with Mahler’s reconsideration of religious imagery.
The third symphony amazingly combines the conventional musical features and original experiments with the form and content. On the one hand, Mahler used traditional patterns for the movements of his works. On the other hand, the prolonged time periods reduce the impact of the listeners’ formal expectations and shift the emphasis towards the musical content of the symphony.
The unexpected contrasts between the acoustic materials within the same movement added special appeal to the symphony without destructing its integrity. Mahler’s outstanding sense of form allowed him to conduct these experiments without fear of destroying the inner working of his composition. He considered the structure of a musical work as a separate universe with complicated inner relations between its segments.
On the other hand, the interpretation of Mahler’s works is impossible without taking into consideration the cultural, philosophical and historical contexts of his epoch. Taking into account the amount of quotations and allusions in the third symphony, it can be stated that this musical work should be viewed not only in its integrity but also within the variety of related contexts.
Along with aesthetical value of the musical composition and acoustic material, Mahler’s third symphony can be regarded as a cross road of trends, while each of its six movements are intended to communicate the composer’s philosophical messages to the listeners.
Musical composition of the third symphony Written between 1893 and 1896, Mahler’s third symphony is recognized as one of the longest ever written musical compositions due to about one hundred minutes with typical performance.
The author’s initial intention was to compose this symphony out of 7 movements which changed up to the moment of the symphony completion, and the final version consists of six movements. The first movement typically lasts for about thirty minutes and can be regarded as the first part of the whole symphony. The second part consisting of the remained five movements has duration of up to seventy minutes.
Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Initially, the symphony was accompanied with a program intended to clarify the inner working of the composition and communicate the composer’s philosophical messages to the listeners.
Though Mahler withdrew this program afterwards, it is valuable for getting insight into the architecture of the composition and the role and symbolical meaning of each movement. Entitled as Ein Sommermorgenstraum (German for A Summer Morning’s Dream), the third symphony had appropriate titles for each of its movements.
Thus, the first movement bore the title Summer Marches In, while What the Flowers and Meadows Tell Me, What the Animals of the Forest Tell Me, What the Night Tells Me, What the Morning Bells Tell Me and What Love Tells Me were the titles for the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth movements accordingly (Niekerk 201).
Through the analysis of these titles, it can be stated that in contrast to traditional symphonies patterns, the structure of the composition under consideration is not cyclic, but rather progressive depicting a musical journey through the symphony universe.
The peculiarities of the composition can be regarded as specific structural device affecting the listeners’ perception of the musical themes in general. The six seemingly disjointed movements in fact belong together and are united by complex inner relationships.
The opening movement entitled as Summer Marches In represents an unconventionally slow introduction. The sounds of the eight unison horns intertwined with the outcroppings of recitative contrast to the main violin solo which resembles the spring-like life force.
Later on in this movement, this life force is developed into the traditional march. A pastoral episode with its twittering incorporated into this movement adds some special appeal and produces the impression of a double development section. The opening movement with all its contrasting components introduces the listeners into the universe of Mahler’s symphony.
We will write a custom Essay on Musical Features of Mahler’s III Symphony specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More The title of the second movement (What the Flowers and Meadows Tell Me) is aligned with its form. The dainty minuet was appropriate for representing vegetable nature of the discussed processes in nature. This elegant and essentially static form of minuet follows the ABABA pattern and makes this movement ever-changing similar to summer nature.
The third movement entitled as What the Animals of the Forest Tell Me uses a scherzo bustling for rendering the animal sounds. The main allegro of this movement uses the song Absolung im Sommer as its main theme.
Listening to this section, the audience is expected to imagine the dead Cuckoo contrasting to the joy of life in the rest of the animals which is subdued only with the shadow of a man beyond the horizon. The sounds at the end of this movement reveal the animals’ fear which first makes the sounds still, but then unexpectedly ends with final eruption.
In contrast to the three first movements, the fourth one entitled as What the Night Tells Me lacks activity. At first it may seem that the stirrings bring the listeners back to the opening of the symphony, but this impression is delusional. This time the stirrings convey the meaning of warning the man and reveal not the birth of life but rather the birth of intellect.
The musical content of the fifth movement was intended to answer the main question What the Morning Bells Tell Me. Juxtaposing the sacred and profane motives in this movement, Mahler emphasizes this contrast for expressing his controversial religious feelings.
The bell sounds intoned by children reproduce the Angels’ song about the Last Supper. The climax included into this movement appears to be momentarily threatening though does not keep the listeners under pressure too long. After the imaginary storm cloud passes away, the climax is replaced with the joyous singing which is followed by silence.
What Love Tells Me as the title of the sixth movement explains the overall tension as the dominating pattern within this part. Composed from a set of variations, the sixth movement builds up the volcanic pressure and expresses love in all its beauty at the same time. The intertwining melody unites the blocks of the sixth movement with a single theme and intensifies the cumulative dramatic impact.
Regardless of the relative disparity between the moods, structures and colors of the six movements, as a whole, they exhibit exceptional structural unity as it is expected from a traditional symphony.
Not sure if you can write a paper on Musical Features of Mahler’s III Symphony by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Peculiarities of the form Though most Mahler’s symphonies follow conventional patterns, the peculiarities of the form and the manipulation of the structures can be regarded as a separate musical device adding special appeal to compositions.
To begin with, all opening movements of Mahler’s symphonies are based on sonata form. Regarding the massive first movement of the third symphony, the composer admitted that it had “the same scaffolding and construction…as found in Mozart and, expanded and exalted, in Beethoven, but which were actually created by the venerable Haydn” (Freeze 188).
However, as to the first movement of the third symphony, the difficulties with defining its form cam be explained with its huge size.
The gigantic proportions caused the difficulties with making the form of the whole piece apparent to the listeners. For the purpose of preserving the effect of the conventional form, Mahler highlighted the structural divisions through eliminating transitions between the sections and incorporating the musical gestures into the movements’ structure.
Another characteristic feature of the third symphony is the implementation of the rotational form. The rotational form can be defined as the organizational principle based upon the repetition of certain motives. The first set of motives comprises a cycle which is repeated for producing the impression of rotation.
The radical independence between the theme groups is a peculiar feature of the third symphony. Regardless of the stability within the basic sequence, separate motives can be based upon any developmental patterns. The flexibility of the symphony framework allows allotting structural significance to the most distinctive motives.
The large proportions used in the third symphony make the role of the listeners’ formal expectations insignificant. Reducing the role of the background knowledge for the subjective perception of the aesthetics of the symphony, the time scales emphasize the importance of the mutual relations between idioms and sounds. “Mahler gives them unprecedented structural significance: the primary structural marker is idiom” (Freeze 193).
With the climax episodes integrated into the structure of most movements, they can seem as separate complete pieces. However, the detailed analysis of their structural composition allows defining the transition segments which play an important role in establishing the integrity of the whole symphony.
Thus, disregarding the conventionality of the implemented form, the structural composition of Mahler’s third symphony can be regarded as a separate musical feature. Apart from structural significance of particular distinctive motives, the time scales reduce the importance of the listeners’ formal expectations and background knowledge.
Based on conventional patterns, the rotational cycle, the complex structure and the variety of musical gestures intensify the listeners’ impression from the musical composition, making the modified for, and the correlation between the sounds and idioms an impressive musical device.
Characteristics of acoustic material The acoustic material used by Mahler in the third symphony extends the traditional patterns dictated by orchestra. As it has been mentioned above, particular distinctive motives, such as booming drum motives from the first movement, for example, have become structurally significant features of the whole composition. Increasing the coloring of his symphony, Mahler upsets the orchestra balance, crossing the traditional boundaries of classicism.
Mahler’s genius sense of the form allowed him conducting experiments with the structure, manipulating the acoustic material at his discretion and emphasizing the individual voices at the expense of the total sound without reducing the aesthetic value of his works.
In a standard situation, Mahler can afford himself placing a prolonged upper-voice melody, creating contrasting extremes. Despite all the conventional limitations, Mahler combines unbroken upper-voice melody with other elements tough these contrasts were not essential for the overall composition.
Mahler’s peculiar attitude towards the form can be explained with not only his position of innovator, but also his views concerning the inappropriateness of symmetrical relationships to musical themes. Regarding the works of art as separate universes with their unique internal processes and rules, Mahler takes into consideration the impact of the time and space parameters while working on the third symphony.
The discovery of the beautiful coloring of the trombone solo can be considered as an important Mahler’s contribution to the overall musical aesthetics of his epoch. The contrast between the solo trombones and the chorale produced the effect of the deliberated sounds which however were valuable for expressing the main idea of a particular movement.
Disregarding the misbalance between the chorale and the unexpected solos, the musical content of the movements corresponds to the listeners’ expectations as perceived from the movement titles. Thus, the third symphony has become Mahler’s first experiment with solo trombones which made a significant contribution to the overall coloring of the whole musical composition.
Mahler’s nonconventional approach to pauses and rhythm is another significant feature of the acoustic material deserving serious consideration. The rhythm and the over-long pauses are meant to reinforce the overall impression from the melodies and motives. The pauses within the third symphony are frequently defined as prose-like and can be regarded as meaningful.
In general, Mahler’s unique sense of the form predetermined the success of his experiments with the extension of the classical boundaries, combination of the sounds which previously were regarded as incompatible and the prominence of particular solos. The unconventional treatment of the acoustic material increased the overall coloring of the third symphony and became a contribution to the musical aesthetic of the early twentieth century.
Nietzche’s influence reflected in musical features Along with the German Romanticism and particularly its notion of a new mythology, Nietzsche’s philosophical theories have become an important source of inspiration for Mahler in composing his third symphony. Particular instances of Nietzsche’s influence can be found within the musical features of this work of art.
While some theoreticians call Nietzsche the key figure in Mahler’s intellectual development in general, the evidence that the composer was under the influence of the great philosopher while working on his third symphony can be found in the musical features of the musical work itself. “Mahler is said to have read Nietzsche particularly intensively during the composition period for the Third” (Niekerk 207).
Apart from the choice of the title of Die Frohliche Wissenschaft for the symphony as the direct reference to the philosopher’s work, the choice of the main themes and motives developed in the symphony under consideration can be regarded as the results of the Nietzsche’s influence on Mahler’s views and aesthetical sense.
Analyzing the representation of the idea of community within the third symphony, it can be stated that it is not limited to the humanity dimension, but is rather extended to the exploration of all levels of nature for defining the people’s place within it. A similar framework for applying the community concept to the rest of the universe can be found in Nietzsche’s theories.
In that regard, it can be stated that the six movements of the third symphony represent Mahler’s view of the hierarchical order of nature. Analyzing the author’s programmatic notes for the symphony, each movement of the symphony can be interpreted as a walk within a particular hierarchical level of nature.
The first movements of the symphony represent the nature’s ability to produce the sounds without the human interference. Mahler uses special acoustic and structural devices for showing the effect of the man’s appearance in the world of nature and animals’ reaction to it.
The use of the religious imagery in the fifth movement of the third symphony can be regarded as another instance of the philosopher’s influence upon the composer. Thus, the profound philosophical basis and effects of Nietzsche’s influence can be found behind the programmatic notes, main themes and motives developed within Mahler’s third symphony.
The themes of the hierarchical order of nature and the relations between the nature and the human world along with Mahler’s subjective representation of the religious imagery are the main philosophical underpinnings of the third symphony which can be regarded as the reflection of Nietzsche’s influence upon Mahler’s views in general and the aesthetics of the third symphony in particular.
The Christian joy replacing the quest for eternity Regardless of the evident influence of Nietzsche’s works upon the motives and even composition of the third symphony, Mahler has extended the frames of the philosopher’s framework, particularly through replacing Nietzsche’s idea of the quest for eternity with the motives of Christian joy.
The crossroads of different traditions can be found within the symphony’s composition, namely at the juncture between the different song themes (Knapp 152). The motive of the bell rings which was introduced at the first movement obtains a growing significance within the following movements and can be regarded as an indicator of the Christian motives in the third symphony.
The title of the fifth movement which according to various interpretations can be translated as What the Morning Bells Tell Me or What the Angels Tell Me contains the main religious imagery of the whole symphony. The rhythm and contour of this movement as well as the bell rings are supposed to express the author’s attitude towards the musical interpretation of the religious motives.
Analyzing the dominating mood of this movement, it can be stated that the implemented patterns and contrasts within the acoustic material were intended to communicate the idea of Christian joy as opposed to the quest for eternity propagated by Nietzsche.
The cheerful tone of this movement can be explained with the 17th century church hymn which was put into its basis (Knapp 156). The old hymn was focused on the redemption of sins and the relief which can be found in religion.
These themes of finding the relief in religious beliefs were borrowed by Mahler for his third symphony and predetermined the composition and the dominating tune of the fifth movement. The children’s choir imitating the bells was accompanied by the female solo and added special appeal to the instrumental solo.
In general, the fifth movement of the third symphony can be regarded as the crossroad between Nietzsche’s philosophical ideas, the church hymns of the 17th century and the motive of Christian joy replacing the idea of questing for eternity.
Combining the elements of the church song, children’s and female choirs, the composer achieves the effect of the cheerful tune dominating within the movement and reflects the religious imagery of Christian joy.
Allusions and quotations in the third symphony The analysis of the symphony under consideration is impossible without proper consideration of the philosophical and socio-cultural context of the epoch within which the third symphony was created.
In that regard, along with the analysis of separate movements, the internal links between various segments of the symphony as well as the stylistic allusions and quotations from other works need to be taken into account for defining the overall aesthetic value of the third symphony in its complexity.
The tail motive of the second movement can be found in the fourth and second movements, while the tail motive of the first movement is not repeated. This simple melodic and rhythmic contour contributes to the overall integrity of the third symphony though the same motives can receive different interpretation due to the surrounding elements.
Thus, the tail motive of the second movement obtains a different sounding within the context of the fourth and sixth movement. On the other hand, this quotation appeals to the listeners’ feelings for creating the associations with the prior movements and reinterpreting the acoustic material in accordance with the new musical content.
Thus, the internal relationships between the different segments of the symphony and the incorporation of specific quotations of motives into the succeeding movements emphasize the overall integrity of the work of art, contribute to the listeners’ overall impression and demonstrate how the same material can change its sounding and meaning due to the musical context.
Regarding the musical allusions, it can be stated that Mahler’s third symphony contains allusions to military marches and operetta which are recognized by the listeners in the whole composition and cannot be underestimated.
The use of the military marches for depicting the nature processes required proper consideration of the programmatic notes for avoiding the misinterpretation of the composer’s messages and intentions. Though most marches used by Mahler are deformed, their military connotation is obvious and contributes to the general mood of the symphony.
To emphasize the military allusions, Mahler uses trumpets, cymbals and bass drum for creating the military associations in the audience. Operetta music became another significant source for the allusions incorporated into the symphony under consideration and intertwined with marches.
It is significant that for creating the allusions from the light marches of operetta, Mahler uses mostly instruments which are not traditional for the Austrian military band, namely flutes, cellos, oboes, timpani, triangle and others which can be explained with the composer’s intention of creating the contrasts and making certain themes distinctive and structurally significant.
The use of quotations for creating the links between the various parts of the symphony allowed emphasizing the integrity of its compositions and involving the listeners into the process of active interpretation of the music contours and structures.
Along with the internal links between the different segments of the symphony and its inner working, the allusions from the military marches and operetta music have become a delicate touch contributing additional opportunities for interpreting the musical content of separate movements and the third symphony in general.
Conclusion In general, it can be concluded that every element in the structure of Mahler’s third symphony, its acoustic material and movements can be regarded as meaningful and conveying not only author’s aesthetical views, but also his philosophical ideas, mostly drawn from Nietzsche’s heritage, but partially reconsidering the philosopher’s assumptions.
The combination of conventional structural patterns and original musical gestures allowed creating an unprecedented mix of tradition and innovation within the patterns used in a musical work.
Treating the composition of his third symphony as a separate universe, Mahler afforded himself to create contrasts of acoustic materials and incorporate unexpected musical gestures which surprisingly did not destroy the overall integrity of the symphony.
The programmatic notes for the six movements of the symphony convey Mahler’s philosophical ideas which were put into the basis of the work. The beauty of nature, the relations between the animal and humane worlds, the death and relief which can be found in religious beliefs are only some of the motives developed in the symphony.
Taking into account the allusions from military marches and operetta music incorporated into the movements, the programmatic notes are essential for preventing the misinterpretation of the author’s intentions and meaning of particular elements of composition.
As a combination of musical traditions and philosophical frameworks, Mahler’s composition of the third symphony can be recognized as a significant and influential event in the history of music.
Extending the conventional patterns, incorporating the unexpected musical gestures and conducting experiments with choirs, contours and tunes, Mahler managed to express his philosophical ideas and preserve the integrity of the whole work.
Reconsidering the traditional formal and philosophical frameworks while working on his third symphony, Mahler created a separate universe with its inner processes and cannons which was one step ahead of his epoch but cannot be analyzed without considering its historical context.
Works Cited Freeze, Timothy. “Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony: Program, Reception, and Evocations”. The University of Michigan, 2010. Web.
Knapp, Raymond. Symphonic Metamorphoses: Subjectivity and Alienation in Mahler’s Re-Cycled Songs. Wesleyan University Press, 2003. Print.
Niekerk, Carl. “Mahler contra Wagner: The Philosophical Legacy of Romanticism in Mahler’s Third and Fourth Symphonies”. German Quarterly, Spring 2004, 77(2): 118-209. Print.
In the Rhythm of the Heartbeat: The Genius of Mahler Descriptive Essay
Nursing Assignment Help Introduction: Life as a Constant Struggle One of the most prominent people of the epoch, Mahler deserves being called the man who made the world sound in a different way. Without his enchanting and thrilling compositions, the world of art would have lost its specific flair of greatness.
Tracing the background of Symphony No.2, one will inevitably see the way the music was shaping and realize how many prerequisites this amazing piece depended on. It cannot be doubted that the music possesses the specific peculiar features that make it an outstanding creation of a genial musician.
Speaking of Mahler is impossible without mentioning the epoch that the musician belonged to. Reconstructing the past, one can see that the impact of the then atmosphere on the creations of the composer was immense, each piece shot through with the air of the distant times.
Mentioning that the composer stood at the crossroads of the XIX and XX centuries would be enough to create a general picture of the time in which Mahler lived and created his amazing music.
Being squeezed between the two eras, the one featuring the conventional approach to composing and adhering to the postulates of the classics, the other suggesting all possible innovations that came together with the progress of the humanity, these two centuries brought a conflict between the old and the new, which Mahler would reprint in his works.
The question was, did he do it intentionally? However, is there any musical piece that was composed intentionally?
Inspired from somewhere up above, these compositions cannot be judged as something that belongs to the world of the ordinary; nor are these the frozen pieces of classics – it seems as if the powerful melodies live a life of their own, a peculiar cross between the spirit of the century and the ideas that were haunting Mahler through all his life.
Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More What strikes most about the genial musician is the fact that he was writing the music that both reprinted the epoch and at the sane time reflected the soul of the musician. It was truly unbelievable, yet that was the fact.
Mahler’s Symphony No.2 was another stage of the musician’s self-perfection process. It is amazing to learn that the symphony written by the great composer was predetermined by a number of factors that influenced Mahler’s creativity and set the right tone for his pieces.
Plunging into the Ocean of Music: What Stands Behind the Downpour of Notes Speaking of the pieces created by the musician, one must mention the early years of Mahler for a better understanding of his works and the incredible inspiration that stood behind each of his works and led him to the top of the musical Olympus.
It is important to mark that his early years were the time of the most fruitful creation and the period when the composer improvised most. Making the new steps into the unknown, he searched for the new ways to create musical pieces and managed to fin the most unbelievable solutions for the musical ideas that rushed through his head.
It is quite peculiar that, though the ideas that inspired the First Symphony of Mahler were quite clear and well-researched by the musical experts, the ideas that inspired him to crate the second symphony are still a mystery to the world. As Mitchell explained,
It is plain, I think, from the example of Symphony I, that Mahler was fascinated by the potentialities of the Ländler, and sensed it in his musical possibilities; but had not yet evolved his singular approach to the Ländler which both created his unique type of scherzo and represented a sharp break with tradition. (Mitchell 210)
Thus, it becomes obvious that the composer decided not to follow the blazed trail and create his new approach to the music creation. This was rather bold decision for his epoch, it must be admitted. However, this could not stop Mahler. Seized by the mysterious passion to the music and to the idea of the new symphony, he could not stop until his creation could see the light.
We will write a custom Essay on In the Rhythm of the Heartbeat: The Genius of Mahler specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More It is also quite peculiar that the birth of the new music was greeted with much more ardor than the author must have been expecting. This leads to the idea that the world considered Mahler almost a revolutionary in the sphere of music, which means that with his creation, the composer literally broke new grounds in the world of symphonies. Who could ever think that the world of arts could be turned upside down even with such powerful music?
Considered both genial and daring, Mahler was the first man to introduce the idea of classicism renewed to the world of music. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that Mahler’s first attempts were given a cold shoulder – as Mitchell remarked, Mahler’s first works were considered as a “stone wall of musical classicism” (146).
However, as time passed, Mahler’s personality shone brighter – the genial composer put a speck of his own self into each of his astounding pieces – and, as a result, the audience recognized his works.
In view of Brahm’s doubtless aggressive view of Das klagende Lied, his comment after seeing the MS. of Mahler’s Symphony II in the summer of 1896 is of particular interest: “It is not wholly intelligible to me why Richard Strauss is proclaimed music’s Revolutionary; I find that Mahler is King of the Revolutionaries.” (Mitchell 146)
Indeed, in the eyes of the public, Mahler did the unacceptable, making music sound natural and at the same time thrilling. He broke all possible music canons to create the ones of his own, which finally led to creating the Symphony II – the top of what could be called the revolutionary in music.
What makes the creation of Mahler priceless is the fact that he was actually accepting the new ideas, creating his own path to follow. The composer denied the canons that had been set before, blazing the new trail on the way to the musical masterpiece.
Neither did he use the approaches that he resorted when creating his earlier works. It can be considered that Symphony No.2 is an entirely new composition, the piece that made musicians take a look at the other side of the composing process.
With help of his genius, Mahler made the impossible – he broke all possible musical laws to create the most beautiful piece ever. Some critics argue, though, that Mahler used Das klagende Lied to compose this piece; however, Mitchell notes:
Not sure if you can write a paper on In the Rhythm of the Heartbeat: The Genius of Mahler by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Such parallels and similarities as exist are not, of course, evidence of Das klagende Lied actively influencing Symphony II; rather it is the case of characteristic C minor music revealing a certain unity of shape and sound, the kind of relation one often finds in a composer’s oeuvre: a specific key and mood can develop their own cross-fertilize otherwise quite disparate works (176)
Thus, it can be considered that the famous Das klagende Lied had very little to do with the Symphony II of great Mahler. Nevertheless, this does not shed the light on the mystery. Did the incredible music pop out of nowhere?
As it turns out, the history of the magnificent piece can be traced rather easily. Since the composer tended to mark each newly concurred stage of his mastery, it is possible to find out what lied in the basis of the great composer’s creation. Thus, Nicholson states,
The manuscripts for Mahler’s Second Symphony provide one of the most extensive, if still far from complete, records of the genesis of any of Mahler’s compositions. At the same time they reflect the long and curiously discontinuous gestation of the work as a whole, and the highly intuitive nature of Mahler’s approach to composition (84).
Therefore, tracing the origins of the symphony is obviously possible. On to the new discoveries!
Inside the Treasure Trove: The Pearls to Find Analyzing the peculiarities of the epoch to evaluate their influence on Mahler’s compositions, one can possibly suggest that the idea of creating the Symphony No.2 rooted from the Symphony No.1. Yet the time gap between the two allows to suggest that Symphony No.2 was not the continuation of the old idea, but something completely new – the next chapter in Mahler’s book of life.
Indeed, there is certain evidence about the period of stagnation in his work, which happened to be the turning point for the Symphony No.2. According to what Mitchell said, “The failure to work on the symphony reflects the advent of a major ‘dry’ period in Mahler’s creative work” (86).
Can that mean that the works of the great composer were the result of the long-suffered fight against the critics and the people disapproving of his attempts to break new grounds in the sphere of music? It seems that such statement has certain grounds to base on. Analyzing the composition, one can track the aftereffects of the depression that seized the musician and made him taste the bitterness of defeat.
Whatever the case, he resumed compositional work only in 1892, with at least six and possibly seven songs in a new group of settings of texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. These prepared the way for a return to the Second Symphony in the summer of 1893, five years after the completion of the first movement. (Mitchell 86)
Thus, there is no doubt that the composition was influenced not by the first part of the entire composition, but rather by the abovementioned two pieces – Der Knabe Wunderhorn and Das klagende Lied.
As a matter of fact, the latter had the greatest impact on the entire symphony. As Aries remarked, “The third movement of the Symphony No.2 (1894)(W838) transforms the song “Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt” from Des Knaben Wunderschon” (92).
It can be considered that the author was heavily influenced by the troubles that he was to face, which resulted in the general mood of the composition and made the music acquire the famous tragic depth and the mournful air about the melody.
Speaking about the specifics of the composition, one can mark the incredible expressivity of the piece, which is rather surprising, taking into consideration the epoch and the atmosphere of the century. As Mitchell explained,
Remarks about the Second Symphony by Mahler tend to confirm this contrast between the early drama of the First and the redemption of the Second. Whether this should cause us to view the triumph of the close of the First Symphony as a more temporal overcoming than Natalie suggests is coloured by Mahler’s own use of ‘Dall’Inferno al Paradiso’ as a title for the finale, but it is perfectly natural to consider these images (more cliché than Dante) as metaphors for the highs and lows of an early human comedy. (Mitchell 60)
Therefore, there is certain evidence that Mahler made efficient use of Dante’s allegories and managed to restore the idea of descending from the heaven above into the smouldering fire of the Inferno.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that the composer uses one of the most unexpected approaches to make his Symphony render the hearts of the audience even more – he mixes the comic and the tragic, making it reach the divine. Like the Divine Comedy, it touched the secret strings of people’s souls, helping them reach the peak of the esthetical delight.
However, it seems that there is no one who can define the peculiarities and the specific features of the composition better than the author can. Thus, Mitchell explained further on,
When Mahler sets waltz and Ländler in opposition to each other, as here or in the Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, it becomes difficult to distinguish the elements of parody from the ideal. (Mitchell 60)
Therefore, the mixture of the comic and the tragic gave birth to grotesque that becomes the main characteristics of the work of Mahler in the eyes of Mitchell. Rather tricky issue, this means that the change brought into the classical music by Mahler is tremendous. With help of the specific approach that incorporated the elements of various musical genres, Mahler crated the most adorable fusion. According to what Mitchell claims,
The strain of the grotesque or the fantastic that is already present in the scherzo dominates the march. Whether the listener keeps the image of the huntsman’s funeral in mind is in a scene irrelevant to the experience of the three types of music in this movement. (Mitchell 61)
Indeed, the music created by the famous composer is filled with the passion and the strain that was rather weird for the reserved and conservative century.
Considering the way the author perceived his work himself, one can possibly say that the evaluation of the maestro was quite different from what the critics saw in the piece. It was the mixture of the styles that he created; no matter what the critics might say, he continued his daring experiments.
Thus, Arias mentioned, “Gustav Mahler’s symphonies soften mix grotesque irony and black humor” (92). It can be considered that the heavy, depressing atmosphere of the epoch did not have its effect on the composer, yet it seems that Gustav Mahler tries to create the piece that could balance the gloomy atmosphere of the century and people’s need to strive for optimism.
Such mixture of ideas must have given birth to the specific irony that the Symphony is all pierced through with. Thus, Aries marks that “The Symphony No.2 (The Four Temperaments) (1902)(W858) ends with a joyous depiction of the sanguine temperament” (92).
Such fluctuations of style and tempo of the symphony might signify, first, the uneven and rough pattern of development at the split of centuries, and, second, the hardships of the composer’s own life. Just as grotesque as the melody he created, Mahler’s life was full of contradictions and complicacies that led to the tragicomic misunderstandings and misconceptions.
At the Historical Crossroads: The Last Great Romantic or the First Adventurer of the Century? What could inspire such incredible symphonies? Was Mahler the last romantic who could breathe a new life into the melody, or a musical adventurer who dared to penetrate the holy of holies and break the postulates of classical music?
It seems that the composer was rather inclined to constant change in the tempo, the mood and the overall air of the music. Such changes signify that the composer’s vision of the world was rather complicated and that Mahler could be in conflict between the world and his own ideas.
Rosenzweig explained this phenomenon in the following way: “Re-submersion in world sorrow after ecstatic flights of creative inspiration, as always occurred following the completion of a work, was a characteristic trait of Mahler the symphonist” (36). Perhaps, Rosenzweig was right claiming that Mahler was “a romantic at heart” (36).
However, it must be admitted that, to compose the music that was so different from what the rest of the composers created, one has to possess that certain piece of adventurism, the desire to reach beyond all known boundaries and learn the truth that is hidden beyond the horizon.
That was more than merely a romantic idea of music – that was the beginning of a new exciting adventure into the world of extraordinary, the place where music took completely new, different shapes and mixed styles in the weirdest fashion to produce grotesque.
The castle of Fata Morgana would not look more miraculous than these attempts to transform the old, ossified ideas into the brand new world of the classics. Thus, it is evident that Mahler managed to comprise the traits of a romantic and an adventurer, painting the entire world in his peculiar, grotesque palette.
Perhaps, Mahler was one of those people who could combine the traits of romanticism and adventurism in the most unbelievable way to make their personality ever brighter. Making the romantic mix with the speck of adventurism, Mahler combined the incompatible, which resulted in the most stunning compositions.
For instance, tracing the peculiarities of the Second Symphony, one can mark that the composition possesses both the romantic features and the spirit of adventurism. Rosenzweig marked that “Mahler was a thoroughly romantic nature, all fierce determination and tragic inner turmoil” (Rosenzweig 30).
In Search for the Truth: A Conformist or a Rebel? Another peculiar question is whether Mahler preferred keeping with the views traditionally accepted in the world of music, or if the composer created the path of his own. Although it is evident that the music created by Mahler has now become a perfect specimen of the classical music, it used to produce quite a stir in the spheres of art several decades ago.
Because of his incredible skill to transfer various ideas that emerged in the other spheres of art into the world of music, he managed to create the path of his own, a specific way of composing music that was bound to embody the composer’s ideas of the world and people. Thus, Adorno noted that Mahler transformed various fables and myths into melody and rhythm:
The fairy-tale tone in Mahler is awakened by the resemblance of animal and man. Desolate and comforting at once, nature grown aware of itself casts off the superstition of the absolute difference between them (9)
Why such weird transformations, one might ask. Yet the answer is simple: with help of these manipulations the composer tried to apply to the public’s humanity, their “sapiens sapiens” part, and make them understand what they have already felt in the enchanting music: “Through animals humanity becomes aware of itself as impeded nature and of its activity as deluded natural history; for this reason Mahler meditates on them” (Adorno 9)
Perhaps, the author merely tried to reconcile with the rest of the world, which led to such conflicts and such rebelliousness that his Symphony was saturated 2ith. In his useless attempts to find the golden mean, the one and only Truth, he was raging like a wild beast – or, at least, so did the melody of his compositions – and resulted in the most shocking and stirring music.
Its [nature’s] integral oneness abolished multiplicity; its suggestive power severed all distractions. It preserved the image of happiness only by proscribing it. In Mahler it begins to rebel, seeks to make peace with nature, and yet must forever enforce the old interdiction (Adorno 9).
Thus, it cannot be doubted that the air of rebelliousness that made Mahler’s compositions so emotion-filled was a part of the author’s self, his own vision of the world and his soul. Abandoning the old, hole-ridden ideas, Mahler chooses his own path, which means that he must not resort to the methods of expression created by the other composers. There is no doubt that with help of his unique approach Mahler managed to astound the public and make the classical music sound in a different way.
However, it would be erroneous to claim that Mahler blazed the trail to the world of music completely on his own. It would be more correct to claim that he applied such approaches to the art of music that had been used in the other spheres of art before. Thus, for instance, it was Mahler’s idea to fill the Second Symphony with the magical world of Kafka and the folk songs described above.
Could a man who created the Second Symphony be considered a conformist? It is beyond any shadow of a doubt that the composer would not be able to create this piece unless he had worked on his own theory of the classical music and blazed his own trail in this sphere. Denying the conventional ideas of what classical music is supposed to be, he worked thoroughly on each note to build the powerful cadence of notes. However, the rebelliousness of his soul showed up not only in the Second Symphony. As Mitchell recalled,
When Mahler resigned his post at the Opera in 1907, he, like Otto Wagner, was a much an emblem of an artistic and social establishment as he was viewed as a rebel. Radical conservatives regarded him as the ultimate personification of a Jewish cosmopolitanism which for decades had been destructive to native Viennese sensibilities. (Mitchell 37)
Thus, it was obvious that rebelliousness was a part of the composer. Without this trait of character, he would have never managed to create the Second Symphony. Perhaps, the strength of his character is what the world owes Symphony No.2 to.
Conclusion One of the greatest composers of the XIX-XX centuries, Mahler showed the world what music can be as he introduced his Symphony No.2 to the public. With help of his specific vision of the world, he managed to shape the traditional classical approach to create the music that will last for centuries.
Although he preferred the approach that could not be described as the conventional one, the composer’s work was still accepted by the humankind with gratitude. Since he composed the music in his own, unique way, reworking the music of the past, trying different variations and creating the new ways to make the music sound truly astounding, the composer was considered as a rebel in the world of music.
Seized by the desire to create, he was labeled as the romantic of the passing century, yet his experiments marked that the spirit of adventurism the composer possessed guided him on his way to the classical music.
The famous Second Symphony, the pearl in the crown of the great maestro, was a long-suffered piece. Despite the obstacles that the composer met on his way and the hardships that Mahler had to encounter, the symphony stirred the world to the core.
Works Cited Adorno, Theodor W., and Edmund Jephcott. Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Print.
Arias, Enrique Alberto. Comedy in Music: A historical Bibliographical Resource Guide. Westport, CN: Greenwood Publishing Press, 2001. Print.
Mitchell, Donald. Gustav Mahler: The Early Years. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980. Print.
Mitchell, Donald, and Andrew Nicholson. The Mahler Companion. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.
Rosenzweig, Alfred, and Jeremy Narham. Gustav Mahler: New Insights into His Life, Times and Works. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. 2007. Print.