The Works Of Gustav Mahler

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Before gaining positive reception, the works of Gustav Mahler were rejected by his contemporaries for their incomprehensibility. In the 1960s Mahler boom, his compositions soon became staples in the orchestral literature (Botstein, 2002); the newer generation embraced them unsparingly, evincing the gradual apprehension of the intricate emotions embodied. Mahler’s distinctive qualities implore thorough study in order to understand how it brought about such perplexing phenomenon. Within the context of Mahler’s Second Symphony, this essay will focus on the following aspects: (i) its place within composer’s output, (ii) the inspiration leading to its conception, (iii) the composer’s hallmark, (iv) customary and innovative characteristics, (v)…show more content…
Thus, the Second, Third and Forth Symphonies, alternatively known as ‘the Wunderhorn Symphonies’, exhibit a folk-like attribute that moderates in Mahler’s later works (Mitchell, 1975). INSPIRATIONS The first movement of the Second Symphony, entitled ‘Todtenfeier’ (‘Funeral Rites’), was composed in 1888. The subject is the autobiographical ‘Titan’ from the previous symphony, alludes to Mahler’s vision of himself “dead on a bier under heaps of wreaths and flowers” (Bauer-Lechner, 1980, p. ?). This vision gave way to the psychological drama of the movement in which Mahler blatantly questions the purpose of life and death (reference). Subsequently Mahler progressed only little due to a creative block. For the time being, ‘Todtenfeier’ was reverted to a standalone symphonic poem. While some sketches of the second movement date to 1888, the three central movements were only completed in 1893, with the latter two movements directly borrowed from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The Scherzo is the instrumental adaptation of ‘Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt’ (‘St Anthony of Padua’s Sermon to the Fish’) (reference). It narrates the apologue of fishes which listen thoughtfully to St Anthony’s preaching, only to regress to their former sinful manners after the sermon - an apt analogy that criticizes the satirical attitude of human beings(reference). The fourth movement, ‘Urlicht’
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