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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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XVIII. Elementary Motifs


“Even outside of art, sound as an interjection, as a cry of pain, as a sigh, as a laugh is already an immediate vivid expression of various states of mind and feelings – the ohs and ahs of consciousness.”

“Therefore interjections probably form the starting point of music, but music is itself art only by being a cadenced interjection, and in this respect it has to dress up its perceptible material artistically to a greater extent than is the case in painting and poetry; only then can the spiritual subject-matter be expressed in an artistically adequate way.”

HEGEL, Aesthetics III51

“Everything screams! It is the same in the Venusberg as in Tristan; in the first instance it vanishes into the state of grace, in the latter it is lost in death, everywhere the cry, the lament! And the origin of these accents certainly was not exactly the Sabbath kitchen of Berlioz!”

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