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Light in Battle with Darkness: Mahler's «Kindertotenlieder»

Peter H. Russell

The widespread view that in Gustav Mahler's song-writing musical concerns take precedence over sensitivity to poetry, is reflected in a neglect of the literary dimension of his songs. Peter Russell's study of the Kindertotenlieder (1905) seeks to correct this bias. Both by elucidating the selection Mahler made from the 425 poems at his disposal, and by analysing the songs to show in what detailed ways their music brings out patterns of symbolism in the poems, his study demonstrates that Mahler's attention to his texts in this cycle was close and sensitive, and that the over-all organisation of the cycle derives from the intimate inter-relationship of music and text.
Contents: The main focuses of research - Mahler's approach to literary texts - Rückert: the literary background - Rückert's Kindertotenlieder as poetry - Mahler's selection of texts - The songs.