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Gustav Mahler and the Symphony of the 19th Century

Translated by Neil K. Moran

Constantin Floros

The subject of this book is the semantics of symphonic music from Beethoven to Mahler. Of fundamental importance is the realization that this music is imbued with non-musical, literary, philosophical and religious ideas. It is also clear that not only Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner were crucial role models for Mahler, but also the musical dramatist Wagner and the programmatic symphony composers Berlioz and Liszt. At the same time a semantic musical analysis of their works reveals for the first time the actual inherent (poetic) quintessence of numerous orchestral works of the 19th Century.
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V. Borrowings from the Lieder repertoire


“Admittedly you do not see the smallest, innermost circle as it extends ever wider through the radiuses, yet no matter how wide it grows in concentric circles, for the widest and for the smallest circle, the same πr² applies.”

MAHLER in October-November 1900to NATALIE BAUER-LECHNER

In addition to their vocal component Mahler's early symphonies included another characteristic. In four symphonic (purely instrumental) movements music from Mahler's songs is introduced. We can identify four cases. The first movement of his First Symphony borrows some material from Ging heut’ morgens über’s Feld in the Songs of a Wayfarer. The middle part of the slow (third) movement of the same symphony is the music of the fourth verse Auf der Straße stand ein Lindenbaum of the last song of the Songs of a Wayfarer. The scherzo of the Second Symphony is based on Antonius of Padua preaching to the fish from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The main part of the Scherzo of Mahler’s Third Symphony, includes music with a song based on Ablösung im Sommer from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. (The middle section of the scherzo and the trio, are newly composed). And finally the song, Das himmlische Leben, from Des Knaben Wunderhorn furnished the seed out of which the Fourth Symphony grew.

The fact that those movements mentioned above represent symphonic versions or developments of songs by Mahler has been well known.68 Many have written and speculated about this feature. Monika Tibbe 69 recently...

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