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

Edited By 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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What Makes Das Lied von der Erde a Symphony?



Although Mahler called Das Lied von der Erde a symphony, controversy as to whether he was justified in doing so still remains more than one hundred years after its premiere. In this essay, I offer both musical and dramaturgical arguments in support of Mahler’s designation. I propose that in this work Mahler sought to interfuse elements of song and symphony, poetic text and music, so as to satisfy both the principal of symphonic form and an overriding philosophical Weltanschauung. Drawing on the Nietzschean theme of eternal recurrence, Mahler produced a remarkably integrated work in which musical and textual cross-references support a conceptual scenario that contains one answer to the ultimate metaphysical question Mahler’s works raise: How can we rise above human suffering and unconditionally affirm Life?

One hundred years ago Mahler began work on what many consider his most creative work: Das Lied von der Erde. Combining elements of song and symphony in a way that no other composer had accomplished before him, Mahler created a masterpiece of such importance that its influence on later composers is enormous. According to Alma Mahler and others who knew Mahler intimately, he would have titled the work as a numbered symphony, but for his fear that being his ninth work in that genre he would be tempting fate, given the unusually large number of his predecessors who did not live to complete a numbered tenth symphony (Beethoven, Schubert, Spohr, Bruckner and Dvo...

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