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Scholarly Journeys Toward Gustav Mahler – Essays in Honour of Henry-Louis de La Grange for his 90th Birthday

Paul-André Bempéchat

This collection of essays forms the second Festschrift to honour the dean of Gustav Mahler research, Henry-Louis de La Grange, on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. It includes vibrant, new historical, theoretical, and aesthetic research on the complex mind which produced among the best-loved orchestral works and songs of Western classical music.
Henry-Louis de La Grange's passion and tireless devotion to Gustav Mahler began when he first heard his Ninth Symphony conducted by Bruno Walter at Carnegie Hall in New York. He went on to plumb the depths of this composer's mind and soul and to explore every facet of his existence.
Among the many honours he has gleaned since the publication of the first Festschrift, Neue Mahleriana (Lang, 1997), Henry-Louis de La Grange has been named Professor by the Government of Austria (1998) and Officier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'honneur (2006). He has also been awarded Bard College's Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters, the Österreichisches Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst, 1. Klasse (2010), the Gold Medal of the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft (2010), and an honourary doctorate from The Juilliard School (2010). As another everlasting tribute, the American film director Jason Starr released his documentary film, For the Love of Mahler: The Inspired Life of Henry-Louis de La Grange, in 2015.
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“Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens”: Mahler, the Politics of Reason and the Metaphysics of Spiritualism


“Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens”

Mahler, the Politics of Reason and the Metaphysics of Spiritualism


Mahler’s relationship with the political and intellectual currents of his time was complex. This essay uses a 1903 article from the Berliner Tageblatt, ‘Der Kampf gegen die Dummheit’ (‘The Fight against Stupidity’), briefly commented upon by Mahler in a letter to Alma, as a touchstone for unravelling some of this complexity. Although the article was primarily a critique of contemporary fraudulent spiritualist mediums, it implicitly framed this critique in the wider political context of Liberalism. Mahler’s response to it, along with related comments made in other letters, provides evidence of the composer’s sophisticated and uncertain positioning within the conflicting developments of the political, philosophical, religious and scientific thought of his generation.

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