Gustav Mahler

Biography

Born: July 7, 1860; Czech Republic   Died: May 18, 1911; Austria   Period: Romantic
"Imagine the universe beginning to sing and resound," Mahler wrote of his Symphony No. 8, the "Symphony of a Thousand." "It is no longer human voices; it is planets and suns revolving." Mahler was late Romantic music's ultimate big thinker. In his own lifetime he was generally regarded as a conductor who composed on the side, producing huge, bizarre symphonies accepted only by a cult following.
Born in 1860, in Kalischt, Bohemia, he came
Read more from a middle-class family. He entered the Vienna Conservatory in 1875, studying piano, harmony, and composition in a musically conservative atmosphere. Nevertheless, he became a supporter of Wagner and Bruckner, both of whose works he would later conduct frequently, and became part of a social circle interested in socialism, Nietzschean philosophy, and pan-Germanism. Around 1880, he began conducting and wrote his first mature work, Das klagende Lied. Mahler's conducting career advanced rapidly, moving him from Kassel to Prague to Leipzig to Budapest; he was usually either greatly respected or thoroughly despised by the performers for his exacting rehearsals and perfectionism. In 1897 he became music director of the Vienna Court Opera and then, a year later, of the Vienna Philharmonic. Mahler's conducting career permitted composition only during the summers, in a series of "composing huts" he had built in picturesque rural locations. He completed his first symphony in 1888, but it met with utter audience incomprehension. He reserved this time for symphonies, all of them large-scale works, and song cycles. In Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), he merged the two forms into an immense song-symphony. The Viennese public largely failed to understand his music, but Mahler took their reactions calmly, accurately predicting that "My time will yet come." Meanwhile, his autocratic ways as a conductor alienated musicians. In 1901, the press and the musicians essentially forced his resignation from the Philharmonic. He married a young composition student, Alma Schindler in 1902, and they soon had two daughters. By 1907 Mahler was increasingly away from Vienna, conducting his own works, and thus he resigned from the opera as well. Just after accepting the position of principal conductor of New York's Metropolitan Opera, but before leaving Vienna, Mahler's older daughter, age 4, died from scarlet fever and diphtheria, and he learned he himself had a defective heart valve. In New York, he was impressed by the caliber of talent and quickly gained audience approval. In 1909 he became conductor of the New York Philharmonic, which he found much more agreeable than the opera work by this time. The following year, he had a triumphant premiere of his massive Symphony No. 8 in Munich. Despite the professional successes, his personal life suffered another blow when his and Alma's marriage began having problems. They stayed together, and after he became ill in February 1911, she saw to it that he made it back to Vienna, where he died on May 18.
The conductors Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Willem Mengelberg, and Maurice Abravanel kept Mahler's legacy alive, and Mahler's are now among the most recorded of any symphonies. His frequent incorporation of vocal elements into symphonic writing brought to full fruition a process that had begun with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, demonstrating his music's firm roots in the Germanic classical tradition. However, it was his huge tapestries of shifting moods and tones, ranging from tragedy to bitter irony (often explicitly indicated in performance directions), from café music to evocations of the sublime, that portended a century in which multiplicity ruled. Read less
Mahler: Lieder;  Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony / Gerhaher
Release Date: 03/13/2007   Label: Arte Nova  
Catalog: 878180   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $8.98
CD: $6.49
Low Stock
On sale!   $8.98   CD:  $6.49 Add CD to Cart

Mahler: Symphonies No  5 & 6  / Paavo Jarvi, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 03/31/2015   Label: C Major  
Catalog: 729308   Number of Discs: 2
On sale! $29.99
DVD: $26.99
In Stock
On sale!   $29.99   DVD:  $26.99 Add DVD to Cart

Mahler: Symphony No. 4 - Chamber Version / Manning, Jamieson, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Release Date: 04/14/2015   Label: Nimbus  
Catalog: 6300   Number of Discs: 1
On sale!
CD: $9.99
In Stock
MP3 Available
On sale!     CD:  $9.99 Add CD to Cart

MP3:  $9.99 Add MP3 to Cart

Mahler: Symphony No 1 / Leaper, Gran Canaria
Release Date: 09/12/2006   Label: Arte Nova  
Catalog: 433140   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $8.98
CD: $6.49
In Stock
On sale!   $8.98   CD:  $6.49 Add CD to Cart

Mahler: Symphony No. 9 / Myung-whun Chung, Seoul Philharmonic
Release Date: 03/31/2015   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 002278502   Number of Discs: 1
On sale! $16.98
CD: $14.49
In Stock
On sale!   $16.98   CD:  $14.49 Add CD to Cart

Work: Symphony no 5 in C sharp minor

 

1. Trauermarsch (In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt - Plötzlich schneller. Leidenschaftlich. Wild - Tempo I)
2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz - Bedeutend langsamer - Tempo I subito
3. Scherzo (Kräftig, nicht zu schnell)
4. Adagietto (Sehr langsam)
5. Rondo-Finale (Allegro)
About This Work
Mahler kept revising the orchestration of this work until his death. He conducted the first performance with the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne on October 18, 1904. It is scored for quadruple winds, six horns, four trumpets, three trombones, Read more tuba, tympani, three other drums, metal and wood percussion, harp, and string choir.

He'd begun the Fifth Symphony at Maiernegg in 1901 -- writing the third, first and second movements in that order, after a death-obsessed song, "Der Tamboursg'sell," and the Kindertotenlieder cycle ("on the death of children"). After nearly bleeding to death the previous winter (from an intestinal hemorrhage), Mahler's symphonic orientation underwent a profound change. During his recovery he immersed himself in the complete works of Bach.

A new appreciation of counterpoint was born, but not yet a mastery of orchestral balances or effects -- as subsequent events were to prove. Beginning with No. 5, he applied this new passion (which he called "intensive counterpoint") to five purely instrumental symphonies without Wunderhorn associations. Like the Resurrection Second and the first version of No. 1 (with the Blumine slow movement later abandoned) Mahler cast his Fifth Symphony in five movements that fall naturally into three parts.

The first begins in C sharp minor with a funeral march, of measured tread and austere (Movement I). A sonata-form movement follows, marked "Stormily, with greatest vehemence" (Movement II), which shares themes as well as mood with the opening.

The second part (which Mahler composed first) is a scherzo: "Vigorously, not too fast" (Movement III) -- the symphony's shortest large section, but its longest single movement. This emphatically joyous, albeit manic movement puts forward D major as the work's focal key. Although its form has remained a topic of debate since 1904, rondo and sonata-form elements are both present.

Part Three begins with a seraphic Adagietto: "Very slowly" (Movement IV). This is indubitably related to the Rückert song Mahler composed in August 1901, "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" (I have become lost to the world...I live alone in my heaven, in my loving, in my song). A Rondo-Finale: "Allegro giocoso, lively" (Movement V) concludes the symphony, although Mahler devised a form far removed from classic models. While sectional, in truth episodic, this too has elements of sonata form. To weld its diverse components into a unity he wrote four "fugal episodes," with a D major chorale just before the final Allegro molto.

Mahler's search for a new vocabulary caused him no end of orchestration problems. Before his death in 1911 he had made several versions, the original of which was published in 1904. C.F. Peters failed, however, to emend either mistakes or revisions in the first pocket score, although they re-engraved orchestral parts (at Mahler's expense) to include his first set of corrections. Not even Erwin Ratz's "first critical edition" of 1964 was the last word. Revisions Mahler made just before his terminal illness didn't come to light until the "second critical edition," by Karl Heinz Füssl, published just around 1989.

-- Roger Dettmer
Read less

Select a specific Conductor, Ensemble or Label or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below

or
ArkivMusic Recommendation

Ensembles

Gustav Mahler


WORKS
1. Langsam. Schleppend
2. Kräftig bewegt
3. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen
4. Stürmisch bewegt
1. Trauermarsch (In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt - Plötzlich schneller. Leidenschaftlich. Wild - Tempo I)
2. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz - Bedeutend langsamer - Tempo I subito
3. Scherzo (Kräftig, nicht zu schnell)
4. Adagietto (Sehr langsam)
5. Rondo-Finale (Allegro)
Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde
Der Einsame im Herbst
Von der Jugend
Von der Schönheit
Der Trunkene im Frühling
Der Abschied
Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n
Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen
Wenn dein Mütterlein
Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen
In diesem Wetter
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (1999 Digital Remaster): I: Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (1999 Digital Remaster): II: Ging heut' Morgen übers Feld
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (1999 Digital Remaster): III: Ich hab' ein glühend Messer
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (1999 Digital Remaster): IV: Die zwei blauen Augen
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro Maestoso
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): II. Andante moderato
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): III. In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): IV. Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): V. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): Wieder sehr breit
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): Ritardando...Maestoso
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): Wieder zurückaltend
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): Langsam. Misterioso
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): Etwas bewegter
Symphony No.2 in C minor ("Resurrection") (2000 Digital Remaster): Mit Aufschwung aber nicht eilen
1. Bedächtig. Nicht eilen - Recht gemächlich
2. In gemächlicher Bewegung. Ohne Hast
3. Ruhevoll (Poco adagio)
4. Sehr behaglich: "Wir genießen die himmlischen Freuden"
Andante comodo
Etwas frischer
(Horns)
Mit Wut. Allegro risoluto
(Brass)
Bewegter
Wie von Anfang
Ploetzlich bedeutend langsamer (Lento) und leise
Im Tempo eines gemaechlichen Laendlers. Etwas taeppisch und sehr derb
Poco più mosso subito (Tempo II)
Tempo III
A tempo II
Tempo I
Tempo II
Tempo I. subito
Rondo-Burleske. Allegro assai. Sehr trotzig.
L'istesso tempo
Sempre l'istesso tempo
L'istesso tempo
(Clarinets)
Tempo I subito
Più stretto
Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zurueckhaltend
Ploetzlich wieder sehr langsam (wie zu Anfang) und etwas zoegernd
Molto adagio subito
A tempo (Molto adagio)
Stets sehr gehalten
Fliessender, doch durchaus nicht eilend
Tempo I. Molto adagio
Adagissimo
1. Kräftig. Entschieden
1. - Langsam. Schwer
1. - Tempo I
1. - a tempo
1. - Immer dasselbe Tempo. (Marsch.) Nicht eilen
1. - Im alten Marschtempo (Allegro Moderato)
1. - Tempo I
2. Tempo di minuetto. Sehr mäßig
2. - A tempo. (Wie im Anfang)
2. - Ganz ploetzlich gemaechlich. Tempo di Menuetto
3. Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast
3.- Wieder sehr gemaechlich, wie zu Anfang
3.- Sehr gemächlich (Posthorn)
3.- Tempo I
3.- Wieder sehr gemaechlich, beinahe langsam
4. Sehr langsam. Misterioso: "O Mensch! Gib acht!" 'O Mensch! Gib acht'
4.- Più mosso subito
5. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck: "Bimm Bamm. Es sungen drei Engel"
6. Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden
6.- Nicht mehr so breit
6.- Tempo I. Ruhevoll
6.- a tempo (Etwas bewegter)
6.- Tempo I
6.- Langsam. Tempo I


YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Already a subscriber? Sign In