School Papers

p.p1 one of the leading conductors of his

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Gustav Mahler was born in July 17th, 1860 and was born in the Czech Republic, which back then was called Kaliste, Bohemia. He was a late Romantic composer and was one of the leading conductors of his generation. There was no question that Mahler was known as a very emotional person, and it shows within his symphonies. His music is a lot more referential, especially with his fifth, ninth, and tenth symphony. His music was filled with funeral marches, dances, songs, celebratory hymns, and all aspects of life that pertained to a large amount of people. Even though emotions can also be a distraction to writing pieces traditionally, there are many other layers of sophistication that contribute to making Mahler’s music more effective than anything.
Let us look at Mahler’s Fifth Symphony in C sharp minor to D major in the final movement. At the time Mahler had suffered a sudden major hemorrhaging and his doctor later told him that he had come within an hour of bleeding to death. He later moved into his own lakeside villa in the Southern Austrian province of Carinthia in June 1901. According to his friends, he could not believe how far he came from his humble beginnings. He was Director of the Vienna Court Opera and the principle conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. He late met his wife, Alma Schindler, in 1902, and was expecting their first child. Already so much has happened through his lifetime and he composed his piece between 1901 and 1902. Throughout his symphonies, which had strong links to vocal music in his first four symphonies, this piece is a pure orchestral work, taut and lean.
In his Fifth Symphony, counterpoint became a huge element to his composing. Bach played a significant role to his musical life. The third movement: Scherzo, Kraftig, nicht zu schnell (Vigorously, not too fast), is the longest movement of the piece, and was the first to be completed. The complex structure combines scherzo elements with sonata form and adds a fugato. What people are mostly fascinated by are the twistings, turnings, and revelries of an Austrian Lander and a sweet little waltz, creating moods that range from cheerful, to pleasantly showing a feeling of vague. This features an obbligato horn part for the section principal, highlighting the instrument in a concertante hole, rather than a concerto soloist. An opening flourish on four horns is a motif that happens throughout the movement and finally brings it to a triumphant conclusion. This movement is known as a dance movement, and you can tell from his referential statements in this piece with appearances by the glockenspiel and a slapstick.   
The fourth movement: Adagietto. Sehr langsm (Very slow), is known to be one of Mahler’s most famous composition and is the most frequently performed from all his works. It is actually scored for only strings and a solo harp. This is Mahler’s love letter to his newly bride, Alma. Since Mahler’s instruction is to play it very slow, he played it for about seven minutes. In today’s conducting, this piece would be about 12 minutes; 10 minutes average. The solo harp provides an underpinning of motion to the lazily soaring melody, which produced a sonority that has never been matched before or since. This completely shows on how referential and simple on how he composes his music. Besides the third movement to be exceptionally romantic, it can be easily perceived as a beautiful sunset in the mountains. Pure relaxation when closing the eyes in the concert hall.
The fifth, and final movement of his symphony: Rondo-Finale Allegro, is where he uses his layers of sophistication to the test. There are three music definitions that can describe the map to his final movement: Rondo, Counterpoint, and Fugue. Rondo explains on how you keep repeating the theme over and over in different instruments, then a fugue will come in after a voice, and this layering of melodies on top of each other is counterpoint. The rondo theme would start with the French horn in the beginning, then the fugue would start with the twitchy string playing their own melodies. Then the rondo theme would come back, along with the fugue, but more intense. Mahler would do something very interesting. He starts this slow movement theme, which would sound exactly like the second theme from the fourth movement. You would have to listen to it carefully because he speeds up the theme and makes it a jaunty little strut. With his brilliant composing he takes a theme that is very soulful and relaxing into a theme that is very bouncy and breezy. Then he uses counterpoint with mostly the woodwinds and the low strings, only to use it as a climax to a glorious French horn theme. Overall this shows on how many different music jargons and complexity he uses in order to create a magnificent ending to his final movement of his Fifth Symphony.
Now we move on to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, his last completed work. A huge example on how his music is referential because this specific symphony describes itself as death. This piece was composed between 1908 and 1909. Sadly, he had witnessed his daughter, Maria Mahler’s, death on July 12, 1907 from scarlet fever. He also knew that his life would be cut short because of his heart condition. With all of that in mind, he creates the death of tonality, in which that time it definitely signals death. The whole symphony itself dissolves into an empty sky; musical ideas are now becoming slower, quitter, emptier, and more isolated in sound and substance. 
His most recognizable movement in his Ninth Symphony is his fourth and final movement. It is marked zuruckhaltend (very slowly and held back). This movement symbolized three types of deaths:  Mahler’s own death, death of tonality, and the death of “Faustian” culture in all the arts. We all must consider the interval in the second violins at the start of the symphony, F sharp-E, which is also the whole symphony’s melodic material, and it relates to Johann Strauss’s piece called: Enjoy Life. His last measures were exceptionally important to what he wants to portray to his listeners. He wrote this shortly after his daughter’s death. In the last two dozen measures, in which he says to go very slow and to play extremely quiet (ppp), it is one of the emptiest and moving pages ever written. Gradually the music peacefully, and resolutely slips away into silence. 
Mahler’s Tenth Symphony was also famous because he never finished the symphony itself. He started working on it on July 1910 in Toblach. He stopped writing it on September and he died before he completed the orchestra draft at the age of 50 from a streptococcal infection of the blood. The whole symphony was composed in F sharp major. Even though Mahler was at the top of his compositional powers, his personal life was filled with disarrays and distractions. At that time his wife, Alma Mahler, had an affair with Walter Gropius, and sought counseling. He dedicated the last page to his symphony saying “fur dich leben! Fur dich sterben! (To live for you! To die for you!). He was very excited upon performing this piece and to tour across the world, but alas he died.
What is amazing about his Tenth Symphony is that is has a connection with his Ninth. He starts in the key of F sharp major instead and has a bleak Andante melody for violas alone to bring in the theme in the strings. There are five movements in this piece, so he uses a structure of having two large slow movements with the core of faster inner movements. Mahler would actually have trouble conducting this piece, if he was still alive to do so. He consistently changed meters back to back, especially his second movement. The Purgatorio movement: Purgatorio oder Inferno (Purgatory or Hell) shows a struggle between carefree melodies with a perpetuum mobile, “perpetual motion” accompaniment and alternately bleak moments. This piece however ends in limbo after a brief repeat of the harp’s arpeggio and gong stroke pull the rug from under it. On his scherzo movement, we hear the use of a military drum that is used as a funeral procession that Mahler observed once when he stayed in New York. He witnessed the cortege of the fire chief passed away and all he could hear was the muffled stroke of a large bass drum. He re-enacts his opening of his Fifth Symphony with the rising lines of the tubas supported by two bassoons and re-enacts the bass drum sound he heard from the funeral to negate their peak moment. His final movement incorporates all of his earlier movements with the French horns having the melody and a flute solo to peacefully end the symphony peacefully. He originally wanted to finish the piece in B flat major, but in the process of revision, it worked with the same key, which was F sharp major. 
Something special about his Tenth Symphony is the “Crisis Chord.” This type of chord happens in two-thirds in the first movement with a terrifying dissonance. The chord contains basically three elements, in which each element alone is simply unremarkable to even score in paper. It builds from a dominant ninth of F sharp minor, then a D minor triad with a B added, then a C sharp dominant chord below, which makes it more intense than it already is. Finally there is a C minor triad on top of everything. So everything sounds alright without the C sharp triad at the top but once that comes in it basically sounds like a scream. He plays the chord twice with the bridge of a trumpet holding a concert A. He also plays it again in the final movement to recap his anguish within everything. It is not like today when you can portray your anguish with a recording of actual crying, so he had to find a way to actually show it within his composing skills.  
This is actually the moment of when he realizes that his personal life was in wreckage. When he received a letter from Walter Gropius that was supposed to be for Mahler’s wife, his cry of anguish appears out of nowhere in his music. The letter stated that Gropius could not live without her, and if she had any interest in being with him, then she must leave Mahler for him. When he read this letter he cries out of anguish saying that she must choose who she would rather be with, and that would be her final decision. She ultimately picked Mahler and he was on top of her like a mad man. He would make sure he would keep both of their doors open so he would hear her breathe, would look at her while she was sleeping, and still cried in anguish while writing his piece. He later on went to visit Sigmund Freud and commuted a 24-hour journey from Toblach to Leiden. They walked for six hours in which they discussed everything in the newly discovered unconscious. 
Overall Mahler only wrote for himself. He had such a love for music that he had to literally tell his story about his greatest accomplishments and his deepest sorrow in his pieces. He never had anyone force him to write a piece at all. This is why his pieces are more referential than anything. He also had hope throughout all of his pain even though it was much unbearable. He had the strength from his life adversities, hi five-year old daughter passing away then his wife having an affair behind his back, and still was delighted to write his pieces and to actually show it across the world. Mahler is a true Romantic and every composer signifies him as one of the greatest composers ever to write a piece in history.