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Mahler: His Life, Work and World

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  • Posted October 30, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Book deserves 5 stars

    ** Mahler (1860-1911) must have lost heart of composing after seeing Freud? <BR/><BR/>The circumstances surrounding the composition of the Tenth were highly unusual - the revelation that his young wife had had an affair with the architect Walter Gropius <BR/>The unsettled frame of Mahler's mind found expression in the despairing comments (many addressed to Alma) written on the manuscript of the Tenth, and must have influenced its composition: (True?) on the final page of the short score, Mahler wrote, "für dich leben! für dich sterben!" (To live for you! To die for you!) and the exclamation "Alms chi!" underneath the last soaring phrase.(Alms=money for the poor???) Alma kept the score with its final tribute in her living room - like a hunting trophy - the score refers to his unfinished 10th symphony. Was it inscribed on the score of the 10th? Mahler composed sketches of five movements!!!! <BR/><BR/>There is no sign that Mahler ever worked on the 10th Symphony again (Started in July 1910) after his visit to Freud in August 1910 - until he died August 10, 1911. Could it be that he intentionally kept his 10th unfinished - In Sept 1910 Mahler ended his efforts on the 10th Did he leave it unfinished for Alma to complete the work after he's gone; as to make up for his mistake when (1902) he ruled Alma out of composing. Or he did not finish it and temporarily put it aside to be able to make final revisions to the Ninth? <BR/><BR/>Mahler struggles in the 10th. a) Dissonance piled on dissonance and pierced by a high trumpet A, which erupts in the first movement. The shock of Gropius letters? Alma's accusations? (of WHAT??) Hardly less appalling is the muffled drum stroke which ends in the fourth movement and is repeated in the fifth. Alma links it to the episode when they heard together from a funeral cortege which passed far below their hotel window during their first winter in New York (Mahler's gloom during his happiest days-backlog of anti-Semitic complexities!!). Perhaps that is where Mahler got his raw material, but doesn't he use it here to a deeper and more recent movement with the echoes of the song about a child left to starve to death. Isn't Mahler now (or again) the abandoned one? - Again backlog of anti-Semitic complexities!!- He scrawled tortured words on the manuscript among them "" Mercy!! Oh God! Oh God! Why hast thou forsaken me?""--""The devil dances it with me/Madness seize me, accursed one/Destroy me/That I forgot, that I am"" like several notes Mahler left for Alma in the farmhouse. He may have written something more shocking on the bottom half of the Purgatories' title page, but the section has been sliced off, presumably by Alma. <BR/><BR/>After Mahler sought counseling from Sigmund Freud and on the verge of its successful première in Munich he dedicated the Eighth Symphony to Alma in a desperate attempt to repair the breach. ((Premiered in Munich on September 12, 1910 featured a chorus of about 850, with an orchestra of 171)) Did Freud recommend that Mahler dedicate his 8th to Alma? <BR/>Emanuel Garcia - an American psychoanalyst - puts this case eloquently in a paper made public in 1994. <BR/>Mahler suffered from Oedipal Conflict - A complex of males; desire to possess the mother sexually and to exclude the father; said to be a source of personality disorders if unresolved -

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