Music Gustav Mahler
by
James L. Zychowicz
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0031

Introduction

Gustav Mahler (b. 1860–d. 1911) is known for the Lieder and symphonies he composed, which may be seen to bring the 19th-century developments in both genres into the early 20th century. In working both with and without texts in his symphonies, Mahler made use of intertextual references to his own vocal music, and he also included quotations and allusions to works by other composers. In this way, Mahler infused his symphonic music with associated meanings that intersect his musical structures. He thus created highly connotative pieces that did not necessarily require the explicit programs connected to some of the symphonic poems of the late 19th century. In addition, he incorporated vocal music in his symphonies by recasting songs instrumentally, as with the Scherzo of the Second Symphony or the Adagietto of the Fifth Symphony; he also used orchestral songs as movements in his Second, Third, and Fourth Symphonies, the last culminating in the Song-Finale “Das himmlische Leben.” Mahler built on the precedent found in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony by using the chorus in the Finale of his Second Symphony and in both parts of the Eighth. These elements, along with others found in the nine symphonies, reflect his innovative approaches to this genre. Mahler also composed approximately fifty songs, including several cycles, which may be seen to culminate in the symphonic song cycle Das Lied von der Erde. He was also one of the most respected conductors of his day, and his influence may be seen in the integrity he brought to opera production, not only by restoring cuts previously taken with the works of Mozart and Wagner, but also by intensifying opera production through his strategic use of innovative new staging techniques in his productions. In the century since his death, Mahler’s music has become familiar to a cross-section of international audiences, through its pervasive inclusion in concert programs, as well as its prominence in recordings. The composer’s name has become synonymous with postmodern culture through the adjective “Mahlerian,” which has also been used to describe late-20th-century culture as a generation of Mahlerians.

General Overviews

Among the general introductions to Mahler’s work the concise guide by Cooke (Cooke 1997) remains a useful text. Some series lend themselves to such work, like the Master Musicians series, originally published by J. M. Dent & Co., which is the venue for Kennedy 2000. These volumes contain general information about the composer and his music, along with some of the aesthetic and philosophical issues involved. Newlin 1978 remains useful for the contexts in which the author discusses Mahler’s life and accomplishments, while Hansen 1996 offers concise information about the composer’s works.

  • Cooke, Deryck. Gustav Mahler: An Introduction to His Music. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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    Originally published in 1980, Cooke’s Introduction contains general information about Mahler’s works and, as such, is descriptive more than analytic. Cooke includes the texts and translations of many vocal works. This is a reprint of the 1988 second edition.

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  • Danuser, Hermann. “Mahler, Gustav.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allgemeine Enzyklopaedie der Musik. Vol. 11. Edited by Ludwig Finscher. Kassel, Germany Bärenreiter, 1997.

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    Useful overview of Mahler’s life, along with a discussion of Mahler’s personality and a description of the composer’s working process, followed by a concise discussion of works; the latter includes some perspectives on reception. The article contains a thorough bibliography, along with a worklist.

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  • Franklin, Peter. “Mahler, Gustav.” Grove Music Online.

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    Franklin’s article covers the composer’s life in various sections, arranged by the site of Mahler’s various appointments; this is followed by a brief discussion of style, then considerations of various groups of works. The bibliography captures much recent research, with the online version updated. Includes comprehensive worklist. Subscription required for access.

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  • Hansen, Mathias. Gustav Mahler. Reclams Musikführer. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1996.

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    Includes an essay on Mahler’s life and a chronology, followed by sections devoted to each of the symphonies, other major works, the Lieder, and Mahler’s revisions of music by other composers. Also includes indices, a select bibliography, and short discography. The section on the Lieder also appears in Sponheuer and Steinbeck 2010, cited under Collected Volumes/Festschrifts.

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  • Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft.

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    The site contains a useful catalogue of Mahler’s works, information about the critical edition, along with information about various activities of the organization. Includes a database of publications. A mirror site in English is available from the home page.

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  • Kennedy, Michael. Mahler. Master Musicians Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    This volume focuses on Mahler’s life and works. The structure of the biography follows Mahler’s career; an overview of works follows the catalogue at the end. Includes chapters on the early works, the songs, the symphonies, and Mahler’s style. First published in 1974 by J. M. Dent.

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  • Newlin, Dika. Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg. Rev. ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1978.

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    Establishes a context for Mahler in the progressive trends associated with Schoenberg and the emerging avant garde. Some of Newlin’s ideas reflect the time she originally wrote the study (first edition, 1947), but on the whole it remains useful through Newlin’s connections between musical works and stylistic traits.

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Bibliographies

Research on Mahler’s music developed with particular intensity after the revival of interest in the composer in the early 1960s. Two decades later the Vondenhoffs published the first comprehensive Mahler bibliography (Vondenhoff and Vondenhoff 1978), which was followed by supplementary volumes almost as large (Vondenhoff and Vondenhoff 1983, Freytag and Vondenhoff 1997). Their efforts, however, have been superseded by Namenwirth 1987 and Filler 2008, neither of which has an online component. In addition, Fülöp’s discography (Fülöp 2010) documents the extensive legacy in recorded sound, with Zychowicz’s research survey (Zychowicz 2011) discussing directions already taken and areas for future research.

  • Filler, Susan Melanie. Gustav and Alma Mahler: A Research and Information Guide. 2d ed. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2008.

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    Revised version of Filler’s 1989 Guide to Research, covering research published through 2007. The bibliography contains sections on references in encyclopedias, catalogues/lists, history, visuals, biographies, letters, conducting, literary influences, publishers, place in music history, reception/historiography, media and criticism, philosophical views, facsimiles, individual analyses, and miscellaneous studies. Fully indexed.

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  • Freytag, Veronika, and Bruno Vondenhoff. Zweiter Ergänzungsband zu Gustav Mahler Dokumentation, Sammlung Eleonore Vondenhoff: Materialen zu Leben und Werk. Publikationen des Instituts für Österreichische Musikdokumentation 21. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1997.

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    The second supplement to Vondenhoff and Vondenhoff 1978 completes the bibliography through 1990, by including materials either published between 1983 and 1990 or previously published material missing from the two previous volumes. Günter Brosche’s introduction describes the collection and the intentions behind the publications based on it.

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  • Fülöp, Péter. Mahler Discography. Rev. ed. New York: Kaplan Foundation, 2010.

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    Based on “The Discography of Mahler’s Music” in Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 26 (1984) and first published in book form in 1995. The online discography is useful for searches of various fields to retrieve data, which should assist in reception studies.

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  • Namenwirth, Simon Michael. Gustav Mahler: A Critical Bibliography. 3 vols. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1987.

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    An impressive effort for its time, the three-volume publication is essentially an assessment of secondary literature through the mid-1980s. Some of the descriptions of books and articles are lengthy, and offer Namenwirth’s perspectives on the contents; third volume is an index with cross-references.

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  • Vondenhoff, Bruno, and Eleonore Vondenhoff. Gustav Mahler Dokumentation, Sammlung Eleonore Vondenhoff: Materialien zu Leben und Werk. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1978.

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    While dated, the Vondenhoff bibliography is useful for its listings of early sources, including reviews, articles, tributes from Mahler’s time, and the reception of his music. The strengths lie in Continental resources, and especially German-language, citations. Includes some annotations.

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  • Vondenhoff, Bruno, and Eleonore Vondenhoff. Ergänzungsband zur Gustav Mahler Dokumentation, Sammlung Eleonore Vondenhoff: Materialien zu Leben und Werk. Publikationen des Instituts für Österreichische Musikdokumentation 9. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1983.

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    This first supplement to Vondenhoff and Vondenhoff 1978 includes items published since the original volume appeared, as well as material inadvertently omitted from it. The entire bibliography merits attention because of the amount of information it contains regarding Mahler research from the composer’s time and the first half of the 20th century.

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  • Zychowicz, James L. “Mahler’s Second Century: Achievements in Scholarship and Challenges for Research.” Notes 67.3 (March 2011): 457–482.

    DOI: 10.1353/not.2011.0002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Survey of Mahler research from the 20th century to 2011 with focus on main lines of scholarship; includes in the appendix an overview of the published letters. Outlines current trends, research needs, and directions for addressing lacunae in recent scholarship.

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Letters

Mahler’s letters have been a source of information about the composer because of the information they contain about his activities, his thoughts about composing and his own music, and his comments to critics, fellow musicians, and friends. In 1924 Alma published Mahler’s letters to her in Gustav Mahler: Briefe, 1879–1911 (translated in Martner 1979) which Herta Blaukopf revised in her 1981 edition of Mahler’s Briefe, which was revised in 1996, along with additional letters (Blaukopf 1996). The standard English translation is the Selected Letters (Martner 1979). Various other collections of Mahler’s letters exist, including family letters (McClatchie 2006), as well as his correspondence with Anna von Mildenburg (Willnauer 2006). While Gustav’s letters to Alma have been known from their context in her Memories and Letters (Mahler 1973), the comprehensive edition by La Grange and Weiss 2004 is preferable not only for the restoration of deleted passages. Zychowicz 2011 under Bibliographies includes an overview of the published volumes of letters.

  • Blaukopf, Herta, ed. Gustav Mahler: Briefe. Rev. ed. Vienna: Zsolnay, 1996.

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    Blaukopf’s revised edition of her 1982 Briefe includes updated dating of some letters and material from Unbekannte Briefe (1983). This is the standard edition of Mahler’s letters in German, with judicious annotations. Blaukopf’s index cross-references Alma’s 1924 edition, since the dates and provenance of some letters differ.

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  • La Grange, Henry-Louis de, and Günther Weiss, eds. Gustav Mahler: Letters to His Wife. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

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    Translated from the German Ein Glück ohne Ruh’: die Briefe Gustav Mahlers an Alma (1995), this volume is more comprehensive than Alma’s 1940 collection. Some of these letters are found in Blaukopf 1996, and the letters offer insights into various issues involved with Gustav and Alma’s marriage.

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  • Mahler, Alma. Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. 3d ed. Edited by Donald Mitchell. Translated by Basil Creighton. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973.

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    Alma Mahler’s memoirs offer a firsthand account of Mahler and while the inaccuracies in her work have been noted by various commentaries, her text remains an important point of departure for Mahler studies. Alma’s account covers essentially the last decade of Mahler’s life. Published originally in 1940, the English translation first appeared in 1946.

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  • Martner, Knud, ed. Selected Letters of Gustav Mahler. Translated by Eithne Wilkins, Ernst Kaiser, and Bill Hopkins. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979.

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    Translation of Alma’s Briefe (1924), with additional letters. Selected Letters is the English translation in common use for the letters it contains. For dating of letters, consult the revised edition of Blaukopf’s Briefe (1996). Martner’s section of biographical notes (pp. 449–457) is a useful list of Mahler’s correspondents.

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  • McClatchie, Stephen, ed. The Mahler Family Letters. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    The Family Letters are generally about everyday matters, and as a whole they convey a sense of Mahler’s leadership of his family and some insights about various friends and colleagues. See the original German-language texts in McClatchie and Brenner’s “Liebste Justi!”: Briefe an die Familie. (Bonn, Germany: Weidle, 2006).

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  • Willnauer, Franz, ed. Gustav Mahler:“Mein lieber Trotzkopf, meine süße Mohnblume”: Briefe an Anna von Mildenburg. Vienna: Zsolnay, 2006.

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    The number of Mahler’s letters to Mildenburg reflects the intensity of the relationship between the two. These personal letters include Mahler’s advice on performance, and the comments and suggestions to Mildenburg have a parallel in some of the family letters and contribute details about his personality.

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Memoirs and Firsthand Accounts

In addition to her edition of letters (1924; English translation, Martner 1979, cited under Letters), Alma published her memoirs in 1940, a volume that was reprinted in 1949 and later translated into English (Mahler 1958). Alma’s accounts begin around the time of her marriage to Gustav, while others documented the composer’s earlier career. Natalie Bauer-Lechner’s memoirs offer a substantial account of the prior decade, including details of conversations with Mahler (Bauer-Lechner 1980). Pfohl 1973 is an earlier memoir of Mahler’s time in Hamburg. In addition, Mahler’s friends and colleagues remembered him in various ways, some with lengthy reminiscences, as those of Karpath 1934. Lebrecht 1998 collects some of the shorter memoirs of Mahler, with excerpts from primary sources and photographs of people, while places and documents are part of Blaukopf, et al. 2000. Related to these accounts is iconography associated with Mahler (Kaplan 1995).

  • Bauer-Lechner, Natalie. Recollections of Gustav Mahler. Edited by Peter Franklin. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.

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    Bauer-Lechner’s memoirs cover Mahler’s career through 1900, including the summers she visited him, along with reminiscences of visits during the intervening performing seasons. Bauer-Lechner recorded conversations not found elsewhere, and they seem, at times, to be interviews with the composer. Of particular interest is the firsthand account of the composition of the Third and Fourth Symphonies. Bauer-Lechner’s association with Mahler ended when the composer married Alma in 1901.

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  • Blaukopf, Kurt, Herta Blaukopf, and Zoltan Roman. Mahler: His Life, Work and World. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

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    Based on Blaukopf’s Mahler: A Documentary Study (1976), this later volume contains an updated selection of primary material, including iconography, such as photos, concert programs, set designs, music prints, and other illustrations. This volume supplements various biographies through its presentation of images and documents from the composer’s life. First published in 1992.

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  • Kaplan, Gilbert, ed. The Mahler Album. New York: Kaplan Foundation, 1995.

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    Taking a cue from Roller’s Die Bildnisse von Gustav Mahler (1924), this is a comprehensive iconography about the composer and items associated with him, including photos and sculpture. It is augmented by a CD-ROM for digital access to the images. Revised and expanded in 2011 (New York: Harry N. Abrams), but without the accompanying disc.

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  • Karpath, Ludwig. Begegnung mit dem Genius: denkwürdige Erlebnisse mit Johannes Brahms—Gustav Mahler—Hans Richter, und vielen anderen bedeutenden Menschen. Vienna: Fiba-Verlag, 1934.

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    A contemporary of Mahler, Karpath discusses Mahler as a Beethoven interpreter, Mahler’s leadership of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Mahler’s new productions at the Vienna Hofoper, Mahler’s Paris tour with the Vienna Philharmonic, and other topics. It is useful to consult Karpath’s reviews of Mahler’s performances and his other criticism.

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  • Lebrecht, Norman. Mahler Remembered. London: Faber, 1998.

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    Lebrecht collects relatively brief memoirs of the composer from a variety of firsthand accounts by colleagues, composers, critics, literary figures, and others. The chronological arrangement conveys a sense of a biography through reminiscences, and this is underscored by the timeline with which Lebrecht begins each section.

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  • Mahler, Alma. And the Bridge Is Love. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958.

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    Completed late in Alma Mahler’s lifetime, this book describes her life after Mahler’s death, which involves some important details, including her escape from France during the Third Reich, an exodus in which she carried along important manuscripts by Mahler. German edition: Mein Leben.

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  • Mahler, Alma. Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. 3d ed. Edited by Donald Mitchell. Translated by Basil Creighton. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1973.

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    Alma’s memoirs of her husband exists in its fullest version in the 1940 German-language volume; the English translations in 1946 and 1968 were abridgments of the text, with the fullest translated version being the third edition. The first part of the book contains the memoirs, the second a selection of Gustav’s letters to Alma. Mitchell’s annotations offer useful clarifications of various points and corrections of mistakes.

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  • Pfohl, Ferdinand. Gustav Mahler Eindrücke u. Erinnerungen aus den Hamburger Jahren. Hamburg, Germany: Verlag der Musikalienhandlung Wagner, 1973.

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    Pfohl’s memoir of Mahler’s time in Hamburg offers information about some of Mahler’s intellectual pursuits at the time (1891–1897), including readings in philosophy, and details about his personal life. This memoir is available in German only, but passages from it appear in translation in La Grange’s multivolume biography of Mahler (see Biographies).

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  • Roman, Zoltan. Gustav Mahler’s American Years 1907–1911: A Documentary History. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1989.

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    Collects primary documents from Mahler’s years in New York, including transcriptions of newspaper accounts, reviews, letters, and other materials. Useful for gaining perspectives on Mahler’s work at the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.

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Biographies

Over the years, biographies of Mahler have shifted perspective from concise depictions of his life, as found in Kennedy 2000 (see General Overviews) and Blaukopf 1985, to the detailed multivolume chronicle by La Grange (La Grange 1973, La Grange 1995, La Grange 2000, La Grange 2008). Feder 2004 offers a psychological perspective, while Blaukopf 1985 offers perspectives on Mahler’s relevance; Fischer 2003 blends biography with considerations of the music, while Franklin 1997 offers philosophical insights. Various themes emerge in the course of these studies, including considerations of Mahler as a Jewish composer; his conversion to Catholicism; the complex relationship with his wife, Alma Schindler; the choices Mahler made during his tenure at the Vienna Hofoper and their bearing on the circumstances of his decision to leave that post; and the matter of Mahler’s health, which raises questions about the myth of the dying composer that has become part of the lore associated with Mahler. The varied approaches are useful in gaining a sense of Mahler’s career as a conductor, his contributions as a composer, and his influence on the musical culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • Blaukopf, Kurt. Gustav Mahler. Translated by Inge Goodwin. New York: Limelight Editions, 1985.

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    Blaukopf focuses on Mahler’s accomplishments and offers perspectives on Mahler’s relevance in the 20th century. He makes a case for Mahler’s music having values that transcend his time and immediate circumstances.

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  • Feder, Stuart. Gustav Mahler: A Life in Crisis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

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    A psychologically oriented biography, this book offers insights into the problems Mahler confronted, culminating with the marital problems he faced with Alma and a consultation with Freud. Feder discusses Alma at length, and the final chapters of the book concern her and the part of Mahler’s legacy to which she contributed.

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  • Fischer, Jens Malte. Gustav Mahler: Der fremde Bertraute. Vienna: Zsolnay, 2003.

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    Single-volume biography with a useful chronology provided at the end; blends Mahler’s life with the culture of his time; with chapters devoted to works interspersed appropriately; entire work benefits from recent Mahler scholarship, including collections of letters.

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  • Franklin, Peter. The Life of Mahler. Musical Lives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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    Franklin’s concise biography contains some useful emphases on philosophical and ideological matters. His chapter titled “Alma’s Mahler” is notable for the insights Franklin brings into the influence the composer’s marriage had on his points of view, an element which leads nicely to the sections that follow.

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  • La Grange, Henry-Louis de. Mahler. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973.

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    Unique for its detailed account of Mahler’s early years through 1901, this volume is the oldest part of La Grange’s multivolume biography. La Grange revised this portion of his study when he published the complete work in French. The appendices remain useful for their coverage of Mahler’s early works.

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  • La Grange, Henry-Louis de. Gustav Mahler. Vol. 2, Vienna, the Years of Challenge (1897–1904). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    Beginning in 1897, this volume overlaps with La Grange’s publication (La Grange 1973). It includes useful perspectives on the politics of the Vienna Hofoper during Mahler’s time. As begun in La Grange 1973, the author uses the appendices for detailed discussions of the works Mahler composed at the time.

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  • La Grange, Henry-Louis de. Gustav Mahler. Vol. 3, Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion (1904–1907). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    This volume focuses on the last four years of Mahler’s time in Vienna through Mahler’s resignation from the Hofoper. The political and social intrigues are a lively element of the biography, while the details about Mahler’s innovative work on new productions and the premieres of recent operas are also prominent.

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  • La Grange, Henry-Louis de. Gustav Mahler. Vol. 4, A New Life Cut Short (1907–1911). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    In bringing his account of Mahler’s life to its conclusion, La Grange focuses on the American years and his later works. It challenges myths about Mahler as a consciously dying composer and also about the problems that Mahler is purported to have had with the board of the New York Philharmonic.

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Mahler the Conductor

Mahler’s audiences knew him as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation for both symphonic music and opera, as documented by Martner 2010. His interpretations of standard repertoire involved both the restoration of cuts that had been customarily taken and rescorings (Retuschen) that demonstrate his own hand in familiar scores, as found in Pickett 2007. While those stances can be antithetical, they reflect the active role Mahler took in leading performances throughout Europe and, later in his career, in New York City. Mahler’s innovations included his collaborations with Alfred Roller in mounting the first modern stagings of opera in Vienna, efforts that involved modern sets and electrical lighting. Knittel 1995 sheds light on firsthand accounts of Mahler’s conducting, while Willnauer 1979 documents the crucial years at the Vienna Opera.

  • Knittel, K. M. “‘Ein hypermoderner Dirigent’: Mahler and Anti-Semitism in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna.” 19th-Century Music 18.3 (1995): 257–276.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1995.18.3.02a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Knittel offers some close readings of accounts of Mahler’s conducting, and also posits a shift in his conducting style late in his career. The unanswered question at the end remains whether Mahler’s audiences saw Mahler as a Jew or looked past that to see him as a musician.

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  • Martner, Knud. Mahler’s Concerts. New York: Overlook, 2010.

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    The book is valuable as a summary of the repertoire Mahler conducted, as well as the places he visited. The volume is illustrated by reproductions of programs from the period. Originally published in 1985 as Gustav Mahler im Konzertsaal.

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  • Pickett, David. “Arrangements and Retuschen—Mahler and Werktreue.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mahler. Edited by Jeremy Barham, 178–199. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521832731Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Overview of Mahler’s revisions of orchestral music by other composers as he brought the works to performance. The retouchings (Retuschen) are evidence of his attempts to render the scores faithfully (on the principle of Werktreue).

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  • Willnauer, Franz. Gustav Mahler und die Wiener Oper. Vienna: Jugend & Volk, 1979.

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    Covers Mahler’s opera conducting, the new productions Mahler sponsored, the new operas Mahler premiered, Mahler’s collaborations with the scenic designer Alfred Roller, and other related topics. The appendix containing lists of data is useful for further research into this aspect of Mahler’s career.

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Style

Once considered one of the modern composers of his generation, Mahler’s place shifted as other styles emerged. Mahler the hyper-Romantic became part of a triumvirate in Newlin 1978 (cited under General Overviews), while others linked Mahler with Bruckner through their commonality as late-19th-century symphonists. Specht 1925 (originally published in 1913) is of historic importance, while Mitchell’s three volumes (Mitchell 2002, Mitchell 2003, Mitchell 2005) offer modern perspectives. More recent investigations point to aspects of music that are unique to Mahler, as expressed by Adorno 1996 and Eggebrecht 1986. Hopkins 1990 explores critical dimension of the scores, while Johnson 2009 reflects a postmodern approach to the music.

  • Adorno, Theodor W. Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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    Still provocative, Adorno’s topical approach to Mahler’s music remains important. The various chapters include discussions of tone, characters, “novel,” variant form, structure of technique, decay and affirmation, and “the long gaze”—aspects of study that point to such postmodern approaches as deconstruction, narrative strategies, and intertextual dimensions for exploring Mahler’s music. First published in 1960 in German as Mahler: Eine musikalische Physiognomik.

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  • Eggebrecht, Hans Heinrich. Die Musik Gustav Mahlers. Rev. ed. Munich: R. Piper, 1986.

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    Explores Mahler’s style through close readings of specific elements, such as imitations of nature sounds, signals, and others. The discussion of quotation includes specific examples; his analyses are useful, particularly the “Posthorn” episode in the Third Symphony and the transformation of Des Antonius von Paduas Fischpredigt into the Second Symphony.

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  • Hopkins, Robert G. Closure and Mahler’s Music: The Role of Secondary Parameters. Studies in the Criticism and Theory of Music. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.

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    Secondary parameters include timbre, scoring, dynamics, durations, articulations, and related elements that are essential to Mahler’s sound world and merit systematic attention. These parameters underscore Mahler’s musical structures. The principles Hopkins uses to explore these aspects of Mahler’s music merit application in further studies.

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  • Johnson, Julian. Mahler’s Voices: Expression and Irony in the Songs and Symphonies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372397.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Treating Mahler as an individual voice, Johnson explores various ways in which Mahler achieves various modes of expression. Irony and other devices play a role in this study, which stands apart from conventional explorations of Mahler’s style.

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  • Mitchell, Donald. Gustav Mahler: Songs and Symphonies of Life and Death: Interpretations and Annotations. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2002.

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    This third volume in Mitchell’s biography departs from the chronological perspective of the previous two and deals with Mahler’s music thematically. Death figures into Kindertotenlieder, a work which Mitchell views as a prelude to Das Lied von der Erde; in contrast to the resignation found in the latter, the Eighth Symphony celebrates various aspects of life. First published in 1985.

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  • Mitchell, Donald. Gustav Mahler: The Early Years. Rev. ed. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2003.

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    Mitchell’s multivolume study of Mahler’s music begins with his intensive scrutiny of the composer’s earliest pieces, the most significant being the cantata Das klagende Lied (1880), along with various early songs and fragmentary composition. Elements of biography enter into Mitchell’s discussions, but the emphasis is on the music. First published in 1958.

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  • Mitchell, Donald. Gustav Mahler: The Wunderhorn Years: Chronicles and Commentaries. 3d ed. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 2005.

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    The second volume of Mitchell’s biography involves a detailed exploration of Mahler’s first four symphonies, and the use of the term “Wunderhorn” becomes a means of describing the composer’s life. This volume is intended as an independent study, and the division into discrete chapters affords the reader the opportunity to focus on specific works. First published in 1975.

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  • Specht, Richard. Gustav Mahler. Rev. ed. Berlin and Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1925.

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    Originally published in 1913, Specht’s study combines elements of biography and analyses of the music. The comments on the era in which Mahler worked are useful. The appendices include worklists of Mahler’s accomplishments as director of the Hofoper in Vienna, as well as a bibliography of contemporary editions of Mahler’s music (with catalogue numbers).

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Quotation, Allusion, and Resemblance

Intertextuality, an important element in Mahler’s music, emerges through the use of quotation (Zitat), or direct references to other music; resemblance (Anklang), or ideas that reflect other music; and allusion (Anspielung), or music that suggests or otherwise uses similar expressions. This area bears study along the lines of J. Peter Burkholder’s investigation of such elements in the music of Charles Ives in All Made of Tunes (Yale University Press, 1995). Tibbe 1977 is useful for dealing with self-quotations of vocal music, while La Grange 1997 goes further into instrumental music. The conceptual framework of Morgan 1978 points to Mahler’s strategic use of quotation.

  • La Grange, Henry-Louis de. “Music about Music in Mahler: Reminiscences, Allusions, or Quotations?” In Mahler Studies. Edited by Stephen E. Hefling, 122–168. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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    An excellent introduction to the topic of quotation and allusion, with its short sections on various ways in which Mahler borrowed, or rather reworked, musical ideas in his new structures, and in the generous selection of examples presented at the end.

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  • Morgan, Robert P. “Ives and Mahler: Mutual Responses at the End of an Era.” 19th-Century Music 2.1 (1978): 72–81.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1978.2.1.02a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Morgan explores the similarities between Ives and Mahler and beyond the common area of quotation; other elements of their music connect them, including their treatment of tonality; and their use of familiar ideas as a means of approaching larger structures, along with the “defamiliarization” of those ideas.

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  • Tibbe, Monika. Lieder und Liedelemente in instrumentalen Symphoniesätzen Gustav Mahlers. Berliner musikwissenschaftliche Arbeiten 1. Munich and Salzburg: Musikverlag Katzbichler, 1977.

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    Tibbe focuses on Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and the First Symphony, along with the use of the song “Des Antonius Fischpredigt” in the Second Symphony and “Ablösung im Sommer” in the Scherzo of the Third Symphony. Tibbe’s approach could be applied to other quotations of vocal music in the orchestral milieu.

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Songs

Among Mahler’s works are approximately fifty songs, and Revers 2000 offers a useful introduction. About half of the songs are based on texts from the anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn, as discussed by Hilmar-Voit 1988. Mahler also set texts by Rückert in his Kindertotenlieder, along with five additional songs, as explored by Russell 1991 and, in a broader study, by Odefey 1999. The songs bear consideration for the intertextuality which some perceive, as explored by Vill 1979, and symphonic reworkings, discussed in Knapp 2003. Schmierer 1991 offers a study of the orchestral songs and the differences between the keyboard and orchestral accompaniments of Mahler’s songs.

  • Hilmar-Voit, Renate. Im Wunderhorn-Ton: Gustav Mahlers sprachliches Kompositionsmaterial bis 1900. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1988.

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    Hilmar-Voit examines closely the texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn that Mahler set, and groups them by literary theme. Hilmar-Voit’s study includes a musical and literary analysis of three selected songs, which benefit from this dual perspective.

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  • Knapp, Raymond. Symphonic Metamorphoses: Subjectivity and Alienation in Mahler’s Re-Cycled Songs. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

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    Explores the ways in which Mahler made use of his songs within symphonic movements to establish levels of discourse. By using the songs in new contexts, Mahler sets the stage for other quotations or allusions. Knapp uses the term “re-cycled” in discussing quoted material.

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  • Odefey, Alexander. Gustav Mahlers Kindertotenlieder: Eine semantische Analyse. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1999.

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    With its departure from the more ballad-like settings from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder benefits from Odefey’s semantic approach. Odefey also explores Rückert’s texts, including the philosophical background of Mahler’s time. This perspective provides a further dimension to understanding the deeper meanings of this important song cycle.

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  • Revers, Peter. Mahlers Lieder: ein musikalischer Werkführer. Munich: C. H. Beck, 2000.

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    Approaches Mahler’s songs systematically, beginning with an overview about the kinds of texts the composer set. This book is an excellent introduction to Mahler’s songs, through its balance between orchestral settings and those with piano accompaniment, as well as the attention to the various textual sources Mahler used.

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  • Russell, Peter. Light in Battle with Darkness: Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 1991.

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    Russell uses a conventional approach to the text and music of the cycle, based on the premise of a dualism operating at various levels. He makes use of prose descriptions of the music, supported by several diagrams to illustrate the relationships between sections of songs and the structure of the cycle.

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  • Schmierer, Elisabeth. Die Orchesterlieder Gustav Mahlers. Kieler Schriften zur Musikwissenschaft 38. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1991.

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    Schmierer focuses on Mahler’s orchestral songs, with an emphasis on Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, selected Wunderhorn Lieder, and Rückert-Lieder. She considers dance rhythms, dialogue songs, and Volkston, and offers a concise discussion of the relationship between the orchestral and keyboard versions of Mahler’s songs.

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  • Vill, Susanne. Vermittlungsformen verbalisierter und musikalischer Inhalte in der Musik Gustav Mahlers. Franfurter Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft 6. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1979.

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    Vill’s study reflects on two aspects of Mahler’s vocal compositions: (1) the revisions he made in the texts that emerge in his settings; and (2) the ways in which Mahler’s songs emerge in the composer’s first four symphonies, through vocal movements, instrumental versions of songs, and self-quotations.

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Symphonies

As evident in such early treatments as Bekker 1969 (originally published in 1921), Mahler’s nine numbered symphonies, as well as Das Lied von der Erde, demonstrate the ways in which the symphonic traditional and orchestral song cycle merge. Other studies, such as Floros 1977a, Floros 1977b, and Floros 1985, show the ways in which Mahler’s work belongs to the 19th-century tradition, or, as shown in Brown 2003, the “second golden age” of the Viennese symphony. Some recent commentators, such as Indorf 2010, consider Mahler’s works in this genre on their own merits.

  • Bekker, Paul. Gustav Mahlers Sinfonien. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1969.

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    Historically important study of Mahler’s symphonies, originally published in 1921. After an essay on Mahler’s symphonic style, Bekker discusses the works in order: the Wunderhorn symphonies, the middle trilogy of instrumental symphonies, a separate chapter on the Eighth Symphony, and a section titled Der Abschied (Farewell) about Das Lied von der Erde and the Ninth Symphony.

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  • Brown, A. Peter. The Second Golden Age of the Viennese Symphony: Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Mahler, and Selected Contemporaries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    In his monumental study of the 19th-century symphony, Brown devotes over 200 pages to Mahler, with his authoritative overview followed by analyses of each work. The tabular outlines of the thematic and harmonic structure of many movements make this an impressive contribution on the approaches Mahler used in his symphonies.

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  • Floros, Constantin. Gustav Mahler. Vol. 1, Die geistige Welt Gustav Mahlers in systematischer Darstellung. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1977a.

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    Floros’s three-volume study is a thorough presentation on the aesthetic and intellectual milieu in which Mahler worked, with the first volume summarizing the symphonic tradition up to Mahler’s lifetime. Useful for establishing the perspective Floros would pursue in the remaining volumes.

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  • Floros, Constantin. Gustav Mahler. Vol. 2, Mahler und die Symphonik des 19. Jahrhunderts in neuer Deutung. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1977b.

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    In the first part of this volume, Floros explores modes of symphonic expression: the symphony-cantata; programmatic elements; and the program symphony. The second part deals with movement types, including the Scherzo, the pastoral movement, the funeral march, and others. The third part concerns specific gestures found with other composers that Mahler adapted.

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  • Floros, Constantin. Gustav Mahler. Vol. 3, Die Symphonien. Wiesbaden, Germany: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1985.

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    The third and final volume of this study is a systematic analysis of each of Mahler’s symphonies. While Floros often makes use of traditional formal structures as the basis for the outlines of movements, the discussions are useful in bringing forward ideas on other elements of the music.

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  • Indorf, Gerd. Mahler’s Sinfonien. Freiburg, Germany: Rombach, 2010.

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    Indorf devotes a chapter to each of Mahler’s symphonies, including a summary of the compositional history and a discussion of each work movement by movement, with a comprehensive bibliography at the end of the volume. Indorf uses extracts from primary sources, tabular outlines of movements, and musical examples.

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Specific Works

Commentators designate Mahler’s early works as belonging to his “Wunderhorn” period, a time when he drew inspiration from the German collection of folk poetry Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The composer himself indicated that his first four symphonies formed a tetralogyincorporating his Wunderhorn settings. The three symphonies that follow are a trilogy of instrumental compositions. Yet his late works involve both vocal symphonies, such as the Eighth Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde, as well as instrumental symphonies as found in the Ninth Symphony and the unfinished Tenth. Because of the issues involved with bringing the sketches for the latter to performance, it is useful to discuss the Tenth Symphony separately.

The First Symphony and the Wunderhorn Symphonies

The term “Wunderhorn Symphonies” refers to Mahler’s early works in the genre, specifically the First to Fourth Symphonies. While some commentators might dismiss the First Symphony from this grouping, Mahler himself stated to Natalie Bauer-Lechner that the four works formed a tetralogy, which culminated in the Fourth Symphony. For these symphonies the adjective Wunderhorn refers to the connections they have with Mahler’s settings from the anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn. The composition of the First Symphony is found in the manuscripts McClatchie 1996 discusses, and Krebs 1997 analyzes the finished work. Hefling 1988 and Reilly 2002 offer insights into the genesis of the Second Symphony, while Franklin 1991 is a contextual study of the Third Symphony. Zychowicz 2000 covers the compositional history of the Fourth Symphony, along with the revisions made after the premiere.

  • Franklin, Peter. Mahler: Symphony No. 3. Cambridge Music Handbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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    The first part of Franklin’s study contains two chapters: one on the aesthetic and philosophical context of the work, the other on the early reception of the Third Symphony. The second part contains a compositional history of the work and an analysis of the work.

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  • Hefling, Stephen E. “Mahler’s ‘Todtenfeier’ and the Problem of Program Music.” 19th-Century Music 12 (1988): 27–53.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1988.12.1.02a00030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hefling explores Todtenfeier as a discrete tone poem, and compares it to the revision Mahler used as the first movement of the Second Symphony. Just as Mahler conceived his First Symphony as a tone poem, the programmatic ideas pervade Todtenfeier. The single-movement work differs in substance from the revision Mahler made.

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  • Krebs, Dieter. Gustav Mahlers Erste Symphonie: Form und Gehalt. Musikwissenschaftlich Schriften 31. Munich and Salzburg: Musikverlag Katzbichler, 1997.

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    Krebs contributes a focused presentation on the background of Mahler’s First Symphony, along with the various literary inspirations for it. He analyzes the First Symphony in the context of Adorno’s criticism of Mahler’s music.

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  • McClatchie, Stephen. “The 1889 Version of Mahler’s First Symphony: A New Manuscript.” 19th-Century Music 20.2 (1996): 99–124.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1996.20.2.02a00010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In discussing a previously unknown manuscript of Mahler’s First Symphony, McClatchie demonstrates the evolving nature of the details of the score, revealing some changes in timbre. The manuscript is in the Rosé collection, and its provenance is underscored by references McClatchie documents about the genesis of the work.

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  • Reilly, Edward R.. “Todtenfeier and the Second Symphony.” In The Mahler Companion. Edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 84–125. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    In analyzing together Mahler’s tone poem Todtenfeier and the Second Symphony, Reilly demonstrates the connection between the works. Mahler’s revision of Todtenfeier as the first movement of the Second Symphony is an important conceptual stage, as the composer gave symphonic expression to the impulse behind the tone poem.

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  • Zychowicz, James L. Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Studies in Musical Genesis and Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    This study is an account of the composition of the Fourth Symphony from its origins in the song “Das himmlische Leben” (1892) through its completion in a four-movement score a decade later. Zychowicz provides a detailed description of each stage of composition, from early ideas through the fair copy.

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Middle Trilogy of Symphonies

Mahler’s shift in style is documented by Mitchell 1997 and also explored by Wilkens 1989. With the Sixth Symphony, Mahler created an impressive symphonic structure, which Samuels 1995 explores in detail. While it was less popular for decades, the Seventh Symphony has received more attention since the 1980s, as is pointed out in the detailed articles in Zychowicz 1990. Monahan 2011 offers programmatic interpretations of the Sixth Symphony that challenge conceptions of that score as an abstract work.

  • Mitchell, Donald, ed. New Sounds, New Century: Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Bussum, The Netherlands: Thoth, 1997.

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    This volume is useful for its detailed information on Mahler’s life at the time he completed the Fifth Symphony, including his marriage to Alma, the extant manuscripts for the Fifth Symphony, an account of its publication history, and an overview of the reception of the work.

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  • Monahan, Seth. “Rethinking the ‘Alma’ Theme from Mahler’s Sixth Symphony.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 64.1 (Spring 2011): 119–178.

    DOI: 10.1525/jams.2011.64.1.119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Monahan traces quotations and thematic development to posit a programmatic interpretation of the entire Sixth Symphony. The symphony’s domestic program includes depictions of Gustav, Alma, and their children; Monahan suggests personal associations that enhance understandings of this work.

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  • Samuels, Robert. Mahler’s Sixth Symphony: A Study in Musical Semiotics. Cambridge Studies in Music Theory and Analysis 6. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511597305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In his semiotic approach to the Sixth Symphony, Samuels transcends some of the challenges that result from analyzing this work in terms of large-scale form and, instead, explores the ways Mahler establishes contexts of meaning within the various sections of individual movements.

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  • Wilkens, Sander. Gustav Mahlers Fünfte Symphonie: Quellen und Instrumentationsprozess. Frankfurt and New York: C. F. Peters, 1989.

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    Wilkens explores the various completed scores and sets of parts for the Fifth Symphony, along with other publications, not only in Mahler’s hand but also editions annotated by conductors such as Willem Mengelberg and Bruno Walter.

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  • Zychowicz, James L., ed. Mahler’s Seventh Symphony: A Symposium. Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati Press, 1990.

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    Based on the International Symposium on the Seventh Symphony of Gustav Mahler, Paris, 1989, this volume contains articles in English, German, and French on each movement of the Seventh Symphony, along with contributions about its reception and significance. This international effort is unique in challenging the sometimes equivocal critical stances about this work.

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Late Symphonies

For this bibliography, the designation of “late symphonies” refers to the Eighth Symphony, Das Lied von der Erde, the Ninth Symphony, and the unfinished Tenth Symphony. The last work Mahler brought to performance was the Eighth Symphony, and among the various extant studies, the perspectives of Williamson 1983 are useful in approaching the more detailed study of Wildhagen 2000. For Das Lied, Hefling 2000, Hefling 2002a, and Danuser 1986 are essential. Among the various studies of the Ninth are Andraschke 1976, which looks at the work’s compositional history, and the more analytic perspectives of Lewis 1984, and Hefling 2002b.

  • Andraschke, Peter. Gustav Mahlers IX. Symphonie; Kompositionsprozess und Analyse. Wiesbaden, Germany: Steiner, 1976.

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    Andraschke’s manuscript study remains important for its treatment of the sources for this work and the ways in which they represent the composer’s evolving conception of the score. One important aspect of this study is the composer’s self-evaluation as he revised ideas in bringing the Ninth Symphony to completion.

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  • Danuser, Hermann. Gustav Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde. Meisterwerke der Musik 25. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1986.

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    Danuser’s introduction offers an overview of the composition of the work, followed by a description of the manuscript sources and an analysis of the work. Danuser also includes a selection of published criticism, a select bibliography, and a list of editions published to date.

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  • Hefling, Stephen E. Mahler, Das Lied Von Der Erde. Cambridge Music Handbooks. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    Hefling explores the context of the work in the first part of this work, and its musical structure in the second. The introduction is titled “Background: Mahler’s ‘Symphonic Worlds’ before 1908,” and here Hefling discusses the genesis of Das Lied. The third chapter concerns the reception of the work, while the final chapter provides an outstanding analysis.

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  • Hefling, Stephen E. “Das Lied von der Erde.” In The Mahler Companion. Edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 438–466. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002a.

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    Hefling offers a concise analysis of each movement, some of which are supported by tabular diagrams related to the form and structure. He includes an outline of the manuscripts for the work. “Der Abschied” receives the largest part of the discussion.

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  • Hefling, Stephen E. “The Ninth Symphony.” In The Mahler Companion. Edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 467–490. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002b.

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    Hefling provides a clear analysis of the Ninth Symphony. In addition to outlining the structure of each movement, he also provides background on the composition of the work. The figures used to diagram structure convey information concisely.

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  • Lewis, Christopher Orlo. Tonal Coherence in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. Studies in Musicology 79. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1984.

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    With chapters devoted to each of the four movements of the work, Lewis brings out the connections that exist between movements through various means, including Schenkerian analysis and other reductions that convey the tonal organization in a larger sense. An important study of Mahler’s strategic manipulation of harmonic structures.

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  • Wenk, Arthur. “The Composer as Poet in Das Lied von der Erde.” 19th-Century Music 1.1 (1977): 33–47

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1977.1.1.02a00030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Just as Hans Bethge adapted the Chinese poems found in Die chinesische Flöte, Mahler also revised Bethge’s texts when he set selections of them in Das Lied von der Erde. Wenk raises questions about the composition of the work as not only a musical creation, but also as a literary one.

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  • Wildhagen, Christian. Die Achte Symphonie von Gustav Mahler: Konzeption einer universalen Symphonik. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2000.

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    Wildhagen investigates the compositional history of the Eighth Symphony in the first part of this study, followed by a discussion of the premiere and early reception of the work, as well as the context of the Symphony among Mahler’s other works. The appendix reprints various documents related to the work.

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  • Williamson, John. “Mahler and ‘Veni Creator Spiritus.’” Music Review 44 (1983): 25–35.

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    Williamson explores the first part of the Eighth Symphony and establishes its context within Mahler’s other works. It is useful to have a discussion of the structural levels that allow for multiple approaches to the work, with not only the sonata principle inspiring some aspects of the movement.

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The Unfinished Tenth Symphony

The Tenth Symphony was unfinished at Mahler’s death, and he most likely would have continued to work on the score. Because it was not finished, the work is charged with various meanings. Some hold that Mahler had crossed the mystical boundary of the nine symphonies, the number composed by Beethoven, Dvořák, and Bruckner; others perceive various associations because of the notes Mahler inscribed in the sketches. Various individuals have made performing versions, and the Tenth Symphony remains of interest for the irresolvable issues surrounding the feasibility of completing the work, as discussed by Coburn 2002. Rothkamm 2003 deals with the Tenth in the context of biographical and compositional details. Both rely on the performing version of Cooke 1989, which is useful for the diplomatic transcription of the sketches beneath the score.

  • Coburn, Steven D. “Mahler’s Tenth Symphony: Form and Genesis.” PhD diss., New York University, 2002.

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    Coburn investigates implications of large-scale form in the materials for Mahler’s Tenth Symphony, which is rooted in his assessment of the sources. For Coburn, Mahler’s intended use of cyclical elements connects the sketches, along with the meanings Mahler meant to evoke, including the encoded autobiographical associations.

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  • Cooke, Deryck, ed. Mahler’s Tenth Symphony: A Performing Version of the Draft for the Tenth Symphony. Rev. ed. London: Faber, 1989.

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    Cooke’s performing version appears above his diplomatic transcription of the sketches; the introduction offers perspectives on Cooke’s use of the materials, their organization, and his arrangement. Includes some recently discovered facsimiles.

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  • Rothkamm, Jörg. Gustav Mahlers Zehnte Symphonie: Entstehung, Analyse, Rezeption. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2003.

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    Rothkamm’s study of the Tenth Symphony includes an assessment of the materials, including a philological view of the sketches and an exploration of the context in which Mahler composed them. At the core of Rothkamm’s work is an analysis of the contents planned for each movement.

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Editions of Mahler’s Music

Mahler oversaw the publication of his scores during his lifetime, and his legacy includes not only solidly edited works but also various revisions that failed to see print before his death. Allowing for revisions the composer may not have envisioned, the topic of editing Mahler’s music remains an important part of his legacy, as found in Redlich 1966, an article on editing Mahler’s music, and Redlich 1967, an introduction to the Fourth Symphony. The Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Mahler 1959–) is the standard edition of Mahler’s major works. Zychowicz 2005 provides a comprehensive approach for editing Mahler’s music.

  • Mahler, Gustav. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Vienna: Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft, 1959–.

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    Inaugurated in 1959, the Mahler Gesamtausgabe intended to collect the composer’s works in a uniform edition, based on the principle of the Ausgabe letzter Hand, that is, his last thoughts on his music. Volumes were released through the end of the 20th century, with revised editions in process. Recent editions are often newly typeset.

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  • Redlich, Hans Ferdinand. “Gustav Mahler: Probleme einer kritischen Gesamtausgabe.” Die Musikforschung 14 (1966): 386–401.

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    In response to the recent publication of the first volumes of the Gesamtausgabe, Redlich enumerates various critical issues related to the editorial stance used. Some of the ideas that Redlich discusses here are brought into practice in the various editions of Mahler’s works that Redlich published with Edition Eulenburg.

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  • Redlich, Hans F., ed. Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4, G Major. London and New York: Edition Eulenberg, 1967.

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    Using the 1906 revised edition of the Fourth Symphony as the basis for this edition, Redlich offers a model critical edition that includes a concise history of the work, an analysis of the structure, and a critical method that takes into account the various sources and their relevance.

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  • Zychowicz, James L. “Re-evaluating the Sources of Mahler’s Music.” In Perspectives on Gustav Mahler. Edited by Jeremy Barham, 419–436. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005.

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    A recent exploration of source studies, from sketches through published editions. Offers an approach to manuscript materials and a framework for vetting sources en route to editing the composer’s music.

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Source Studies

Because of Mahler’s unique approach to his works, source studies offer insights into the structures he created, as well as details about extramusical associations, and even his use of quotation. Mahler’s approach to symphonic works, as discussed in Zychowicz 2000, differs from the way he composed his songs, as found in Hefling 1992; likewise, revisions of completed scores play an important part in understanding the ultimate disposition of his works in various editions, an approach Wilkens 1996 pursues in his study.

  • Hefling, Stephen E. “The Composition of ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.’” In Gustav Mahler. Edited by Hermann Danuser, 96–158. Wege der Forchung 653. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1992.

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    Hefling’s investigation of the compositional process, as found in the extant manuscripts for the Rückert setting of “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” is exemplary. Mahler approached song composition differently than symphonic works, as Hefling details in this article.

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  • Wilkens, Sander. Editionspraxis und allgemeine Korrekturensystematik zu den Werken Gustav Mahlers: Kritischer Bericht und Revisionsbericht zu Autograph der Ersten Symphony. Berliner Musikwissenschaftliche Arbeiten 41. Munich: Musikverlag Emil Katzbichler, 1996.

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    Wilkens examines the sources of Mahler’s First Symphony in order to discuss the work’s editorial issues. This thorough study is useful for its detailed discussions of those materials, although with some of the conclusions Wilkens raises issues that need to be resolved when applied to an actual edition.

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  • Zychowicz, James L. Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. Studies in Musical Genesis and Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    In this study of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony the author outlines Mahler’s compositional process and demonstrates how it affected the structure and details of this particular work. The study includes a detailed description of Mahler’s focus at each stage of composition and identifies some unique aspects of various sketches as the Symphony took shape.

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Collected Volumes/Festschrifts

In addition to full-length studies on the composer and his music, various collected volumes commemorate symposia and other events at which Mahler specialists share research. Danuser 1992 collects important criticism to that time, while Hefling 1997 reflects newer perspectives. In Barham 2005 and Barham 2007, Barham brings recent criticism into focus, with the most recent trends summarized in the Mahler-Handbuch (Sponheuer and Steinbeck 2010). The contributions in such volumes reflect various perspectives on Mahler and his legacy and are in this regard documentation of Mahler-reception that stand alongside performances, recordings, and other artifacts. Partsch and Solvik 2011 is useful for revisiting contexts the contexts in which Mahler worked.

  • Barham, Jeremy, ed. Perspectives on Gustav Mahler. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005.

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    Barham’s 2005 collection of essays on Mahler concerns several areas of investigation. Chapters include “Nature, Culture, Aesthetic,” “Reception: the Jewish and Eastern European Questions,” “Analytic Approaches,” “Mahler in Performance,” and “Sketches, Editions, and ‘Performing Versions.’” The contributors offer varying points of view on specific areas that contribute to sense of context for understanding Mahler’s works a century after his death.

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  • Barham, Jeremy, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Mahler. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521832731Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Barham’s rhetorical question about whether Mahler matters sets the tone, and the contributions fall into four categories: cultural contexts; Mahler as a creative musician; Mahler as a re-creative musician; and reception and performance. The final section provides an overview of Mahler’s works and addresses the issue of relevance.

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  • Danuser, Hermann, ed. Gustav Mahler. Wege der Forschung 653. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1992.

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    This volume collects articles from the late 1970s and early 1990s regarding critical aspects of Mahler’s music, such as issues with structure, formal choices, large-scale tonality, and the structure of songs. Useful for appraising the analytic approaches of the time.

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  • Hefling, Stephen E., ed. Mahler Studies. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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    Contains articles that move beyond analysis to explore various aspects of biographical issues and related topics. Useful for Hefling’s article on the Seventh Symphony sketchbook. As a whole, the articles represent a departure from the considerations of form and structure in specific works.

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  • Mitchell, Donald, and Andrew Nicholson, eds. The Mahler Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    The Mahler Companion reflects understandings of Mahler’s music around the year 2000, with an emphasis on Mahler’s music, along with several articles on reception and related topics. Entries vary in length and emphasis. Contains a comprehensive index and select bibliography.

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  • Partsch, Erich Wolfgang, and Morten Solvik, eds. Mahler im Kontext/Contextualitzing Mahler. Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2011.

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    Focusing on the contexts for understanding Mahler’s works, the essays in this volume offer perspectives on philosophical, cultural, and dramatic elements. The essays vary in length and include an annotated bilingual edition of Lipiner’s 1878 lecture on the contemporary renewal of religious ideas. Includes a comprehensive index.

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  • Sponheuer, Bernd, and Wolfram Steinbeck. Mahler-Handbuch. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2010.

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    Divided into four parts, the Handbuch covers Mahler’s life, the aesthetics and compositional dimensions of his legacy, specific compositions, and the interpretation and reception of his music. Specific sections are devoted to such matters as the compositional process, Mahler’s idiosyncratic sound, and his influence on the New Viennese School.

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Reception

As discussed by Painter 1995, the public of Mahler’s day approached his music from various viewpoints, some connected to the anti-Semitic press, others from the conservative stance of some critics. After his death, Mahler’s works received performances in various venues, including early recordings by his protégé Bruno Walter, who recorded them. In the early 1960s, Mahler’s music received renewed interest, and the enthusiasm for performances and study established Mahler in the modern concert repertoire. The long view is found in Schäfer 1999 and Metzger 2000. Issues connected with music making during Mahler’s lifetime are covered by Kubik 2007.

  • Kubik, Reinhold, ed. Musikinstrumente und Musizierpraxis zu Zeit Gustav Mahlers. Wiener Schriften zur Stilkunde und Aufführungspraxis 4. Vienna: Böhlau, 2007.

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    Derived from a symposium held in 2005, this volume collects articles on various aspects of music making in Mahler’s lifetime, some concerning specific instruments, like the flute, clarinet, bassoon, and trumpet, and others on more general topics like the composition of various orchestras with which Mahler was associated in his lifetime.

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  • Metzger, Christoph. Mahler-Rezeption: Perspektiven der Rezeption Gustav Mahlers. Wilhelmshaven, Germany: F. Noetzel, 2000.

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    Metzger’s study offers a systematic approach to the reception of Mahler’s music in the 20th century, historically divided into three phases separated by the two world wars. To arrive at his findings, Metzger focused on selected works and countries.

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  • Metzger, Christoph. “Issues in Mahler Reception: Historicism and Misreadings after 1960.” In The Cambridge Companion to Mahler. Edited by Jeremy Barham, 203–216. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521832731Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers an overview of reception connected to Mahler’s posthumous reputation as a composer, with a focus on Adorno’s study (Adorno 1996, under Style). While Metzger summarizes parts of his 2000 study (Metzger 2000), the article presents the author’s latest thoughts on new directions for pursuing reception studies about Mahler and his music.

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  • Painter, Karen. “The Sensuality of Timbre: Responses to Mahler and Modernity at the ‘Fin de Siècle.’” 19th-Century Music 18.3 (1995): 236–256.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.1995.18.3.02a00040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Painter reviews some of the aesthetic arguments at the end of the 19th century regarding musical timbre as expressed in criticism of Mahler’s music. Mahler’s sound affected his listeners viscerally, and the responses found in extant reviews are evidence of the debate about the sensuality of music of the time.

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  • Painter, Karen, ed. Mahler and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

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    This collection contains original essays in two sections: “Context and Ideologies” and “Analysis and Aesthetics.” It also reprints previously published material in two sections: “Mahler’s American Debut” and “Mahler’s German-Language Critics.” Leon Botstein’s introduction offers an assessment of the composer

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  • Schäfer, Thomas. Modellfall Mahler: Kompositorische Rezeption in zeitgenössischer Musik. Theorie und Geschichte der Literature und die schönen Künste 97. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1999.

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    Schäfer explores reception of Mahler through the ways in which 20th-century composers referred to his music in their own compositions, as outlined on pp. 22–26. Schäfer also demonstrates Mahler’s influence on contemporary music on various composers, from such international figures as Berio, Henze, Schnittke, Rihm, Dun, and others.

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Mahler’s Vienna

Fin-de-siècle Vienna remains a topic of interest because of the intersection of the modernist aesthetics of its culture and the creative individuals it attracted. The milieu in which Mahler worked for the crucial decade at the center of his career is notable for the rich exchanges that occurred there and influenced the modern culture of the 20th century. Investigations of the period are useful in explicating the confluence of the arts and the development of modern social structures to support them at this crucial time in Western culture. Brandstatter 2006 is useful for the graphic arts, while McGrath 1974 summarizes the politics. McColl 1996 is a model for music criticism, while Schorske 1979 is a watershed work for synthesizing the cultural elements of the time. Brenner and Kubik 2011 offers details about places in Vienna not found elsewhere.

  • Brandstatter, Christian, ed. Vienna 1900: Art, Life and Culture. New York: Vendome, 2006.

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    Divided into sections on art and design, architecture, and civilization and society, with an appendix devoted to the names of important figures of fin-de-siècle Vienna, this volume contains short essays on various topics in the arts.

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  • Brenner, Helmut, and Reinhold Kubik. Mahlers Welt: Die Orte seines Lebens. St. Pölten, Austria, and Salzburg, Austria: Rezidenz Verlag, 2011.

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    This encyclopedia of places where Mahler lived and worked contains extensive entries on Mahler’s Vienna. Reproduces images from the period as well as modern ones. Includes photos and maps, and a select bibliography.

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  • McColl, Sandra. Music Criticism in Vienna, 1896–1897: Critically Moving Forms. Oxford Monographs on Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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    McColl’s survey of a single year in Vienna offers a glimpse into the world Mahler entered when he began his tenure at the Vienna Hofoper through a clear analysis of the critical press, along with perspectives on the social and political stances of the papers, publishers, and critics.

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  • McGrath, William J. Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974.

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    This study of the Austrian fin-de-siècle connects the political movements at the end of the 19th century to the artistic movements of the time. The shift in aesthetics that took place at the time existed in a context of social and political change that allowed innovations to develop.

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  • Schorske, Carl E. Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture. New York: Knopf, 1979.

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    Schorske’s classic study offers perspectives on the arts through the lens of history and culture in which Mahler worked; the volume has been a point of departure for a generation of scholars, who have used it for their own, more specific investigations of Vienna in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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