Great Masters: Mahler His Life and Music
“I am thrice homeless, as a Bohemian in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, as a Jew throughout the world—everywhere an intruder, never welcomed.”
Thus spoke Gustav Mahler (1860–1911), composer, conductor, symphonist.
More than many other composers, Gustav Mahler’s works are highly personal expressions of his inner world, a world characterized by an overwhelming alienation and loneliness.
Some of this feeling can be attributed to Mahler’s Jewish heritage and his critics’ response to it. Part of his isolation began in childhood, a reaction to a brutal father and the loss of eight siblings, including his beloved brother Ernst.
The tensions created by the mix of Czech, Germanic, and Jewish cultures Mahler was raised in is one of the elements that makes his work so striking and powerful.
Incredibly, Mahler was able to unite the diversity of his world and his often tortured emotional makeup into rich and original music.
By Professor Robert Greenberg
2001 | 6 hours and 4 mins | ISBN: 1565853814 | MP3 192 kbps | 500 MB
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The First Generation of Expressionism
This course offers a biographical and musical study of Mahler, who, along with being a composer, was the greatest opera conductor of his time.
Mahler was a titan of post-Romantic musical history. His symphonies are vast musical repositories of his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual expression. His work constitutes the first generation of Expressionism, the early 20th-century art movement that celebrates inner reality as the only reality.
Unlike other Expressionist composers, however, Mahler used the musical language of the 19th century to explore expressive themes very “20th century” in their nature.
These lectures on Mahler bring to life this complex, anxiety-bound visionary, whose continual search for perfection and the answers to life’s mysteries is profoundly reflected in his symphonies and songs. These lectures also include more than a dozen excerpts from Mahler’s symphonies and other works.
Passion Tempered by Artistic Control
“I might suggest that we find Mahler’s music so unbelievably moving today because of its angst. Its uncontrollable extroversion, optimism, and pessimism; its sheer power and often schizophrenic emotional progressions are even more relevant to us than to the music’s original audience,” states Professor Robert Greenberg.
“Mahler’s music is a mixture of brilliant, rich, irregularly changing harmonies; of extraordinary, often grotesque, juxtapositions of moods: tragedy, humor, farce, irony; constant, almost obsessive melodic activity; sudden, unexpected explosions of passion or rage that disappear as quickly as they come; strutting march music heard back-to-back with Viennese love music; and a pure, crystalline, overwhelming passion untempered by the ‘civilizing’ effect of artistic control and manipulation.”
Works you’ll hear in the lectures are excerpted from:
Das klagende Lied (1878)
Symphony no. 1 (1888)
St. Anthony of Padua Preaches to the Fishes, from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1893)
Symphony no. 2 (1894)
Songs of a Wayfarer, no. 2: Ging heut` Morgen übers Feld (1884; orchestrated 1896)
Symphony no. 3 (1896)
Symphony no. 4 (1900)
Symphony no. 5 (1902)
Symphony no. 6 (1904)
Symphony no. 7 (1905)
Symphony no. 8 (1907)
Das Lied von der Erde (1909)
Symphony no. 9 (1910)
Course Lecture Titles
1. Introduction and Childhood
2. Mahler the Conductor
3. Early Songs and Symphony No. 1
4. The Wunderhorn Symphonies
5. Alma and Vienna
6. Family Life and Symphony No. 5
7. Symphony No. 6, and Das Lied von der Erde
8. Das Lied, Final Symphonies, and the End
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