Today, July 7th, 2010 I'll succumb to my daily urge and pontificate away... after all he only turns 150 once and a little leeway can be afforded me every century and a half. If I waited till his 200th they'd have to regenerate me from my hologram-plasmatrix lunapod and what fun would that be?
How much of a genius was Mahler? Give a listen to the stormy opening of the 4th mvt of his very 1st symphony. All hell is breaking loose in this battle scene that is a metaphor for man's struggle to find redemption and peace. During a climactic moment at 1:37 he decides to give a single solo note to the triangle...and it works!!
That would be enough in my books but there's so much more!
His 3rd symhphony finale, conducted below by Leonard Bernstein, is a huge work divided into 6 movements. Initially he had subtitled each one starting with "What the Rocks Told Me" and ending with "What Love Told Me".... a veritable blueprint for the evolution of human consciousness and spirituality. Mahler wasn't religious in the traditional sense, more of a pantheist actually and for him God, love, music, and nature were all the same thing.
The clip above starts right after another crushing defeat in the human (and we can assume his own)attempt to find meaning.
In a typical Mahler move the human voice is given to a single wind instrument, in this case the flute, to dare once more ask the question followed even more plaintively by the child like piccolo.
Another regularly used device is a heavenly choir of trumpets as the voice of "god"... Mahler uses archetypes, symbols and musical genres to get his point across...a little military march here, a chorale there, even a schtickel Klezmer. Sure he converted to get a better gig, but once a Jew always a Jew, at least that's what Richard Wagner said.
When said trumpets begin to finally relate the whole truth and nothing but the truth the strings tremble in awe but soon rise up to join the goings on as the benevolent universe reveals itself.
Of course, ever the genius, Mahler decides two tympanists should get the honours, pounding out the fundamentals while the rest of the gang jubilate in a major chord.
I love this guy but I also love my readers!
Next post you'll get a little of this action when we discuss the latest revolution in leggings.
Ever the genius, Mahler would've approved.