The Twentieth Century’s Debt to Mahler:
Our debt to him in the Twenty-first
Donald Mitchell, CBE
(Keynote: Colorado MahlerFest XIV)
I am happy to make accessible to potential readers — if I have any — the text of the keynote speech I gave in January this year at the XIVth Colorado MahlerFest.
I would remind readers however, if I may, that the text itself remains my copyright and is thus protected by the international copyright conventions currently in force. It cannot be further published in any form in whole or part without my consent; and while I should have no objection to quotations being made if this were useful to fellow students I would ask, please, that an appropriate acknowledgement should be made. I would also welcome care being taken to ensure accurate transcription.
I shall be pleased to hear from readers who may wish to consult me about the use of quotations which would seem to exceed in length the (undefined!) provision made in the U.K. for ‘fair quotation’. I hope not too many errors have crept into this transcription of this very long text. For these I bear sole responsibility!
I am rather often asked how it was that Mahler became one of the three leading musical passions of my life. (Britten and Mozart complete the trilogy.) It is certainly not my intention to embark on autobiography; on the other hand what I am about to tell you says something of significance about the history of the reception of Mahler’s music in the century we have just quitted.
I was born in 1925, which makes me just 13 years old when I encountered Mahler’s music for the first time through the medium of gramophone records. Those legendary performances, for so they have become, of Das Lied von der Erde and the Ninth Symphony, both conducted by Bruno Walter, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, were recorded on 78 rpm shellac discs respectively in 1936 and 1938. Already, then, there is a point I want to make, that at this specific moment in historical time, at the end of the period — those rather few years — between the end of the first World War, 1918, and the beginning of the second, in 1939, it was the gramophone record that had a highly significant role to play in the dissemination of Mahler’s music and in the evolution of how it has become to be assimilated and comprehended, now of course on a virtually global scale. I shall have a bit more to say about this later on. These days, of course, we are all aware of the worldwide wonders of the Net, and the extent of its communicative powers. We should not fail, however, to give a retrospective salute to a technology that was also innovative in its time, and, in Mahler’s case, came to exercise a profound cultural influence.
So what was it, some of you may ask, that prompted me to pester my very kind parents to buy me these recordings, which they did? Was it something of Mahler’s that I had heard and was excited by? Of course not! And it is precisely that negative answer that says everything — well, almost everything — about the reception of Mahler’s music, certainly in Britain, but I believe in most other parts of the world as well: in the twenties and mid- and late thirties there wasn’t much to be received. Of course, there were remarkable exceptions, even — occasionally — in Britain, especially through the then new medium of broadcasting and an enlightened musical policy practised by the BBC. But for an inquisitive schoolboy of 14 or 15 in London there was simply no opportunity to have one’s interest aroused by a live performance.
How then, you may ask, was that interest aroused? I was fortunate in having a mother who was herself a highly gifted musician who had been a student pre-First World War in Leipzig at the famous music Conservatoire there, which had enjoyed for many years the reputation of being Europe’s leading music school for aspiring performers. When she returned to Britain, the war over, she brought home among her books, a famous two-volume encyclopaedia, Hugo Riemann’s Musik- Lexikon, and as a boy I used to spend hours poring over the entries. Among them was a brief entry on Mahler in which of course there was a list of works which included Das Lied von der Erde. My mother patiently translated the entry for me, or those bits of it I couldn’t make out, and for some inexplicable reason I was haunted by the title of Mahler’s last songcycle — The Song of the Earth, what could that be? — by his name, Gustav Mahler, and the very basic details of his life and work. It was that entry that set me off in search of Mahler, and from that moment what was a silence imposed by ignorance and by accidents of history and politics and cultural prejudices, from that moment the silence was broken, and I was, to put it with maximum economy, hooked. So it was that once that mysterious title, Das Lied von der Erde, was translated into sound, I set forth on a long journey that continues still and indeed has brought me to be with you now, in Colorado.
Just the other day I was reading a thoughtful review of the new volume in the series that constitutes my great friend’s — Henry-Louis de La Grange’s — unique biography of Mahler, which ended with a paragraph devoted to the generation of composers succeeding Mahler who had not only received Mahler’s support and encouragement but eventually themselves won recognition as representing the New Music that was to engulf the twentieth century, among them Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, not to speak of Zemlinsky whose music has had to wait longer for the serious attention it deserves and is now beginning to get. The review was written by a British composer and teacher, Hugh Wood, and it ends with this sentence in which he states that the ‘aesthetic position’ which made the whole work of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern possible ‘had already been fought out’ — and I applaud the choice of words — ‘in the composition of Mahler’s own symphonies’.
That is very much the territory at which I shall be taking a fresh look today and it seems to me to be of some significance that it was a composer, writing as the twenty-first century has just begun — the authentic start of the new Millenium, is it not? —- who made that comment. Because in fact it was in the first instance composers who realized the significance of Mahler’s creativity, the unique worlds his symphonies represent, with the paradoxical consequence that even at a time when his music was in no way generally accessible, was not to be heard, it was composers — and I am not just thinking of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern — who raised their voices on his behalf in the music they themselves were creating; in short, his influence on ensuing generations was to be heard, but only rarely recognized as such, long before his own music had become part of a living musical experience.
Two composers of remarkable genius, each — interestingly — from very different cultural traditions, have to be mentioned in this context: Dmitri Shostakovich, from Russia, and Benjamin Britten, from Britain. It is always inevitable that on occasions like this one cannot avoid making sweeping generalizations but it remains true nonetheless to claim that Shostakovich’s prodigious symphonic legacy simply could not have happened if it had not been for Mahler’s example: it was Mahler who served as Shostakovich’s model, specifically, I suggest, in one area, the concept of narrative, when a formal process that is initiated by the first note — perhaps better, the first idea — of the work that we are hearing, is sustained over the length of it, and only completed when the last note has sounded. The constant, insistent presence throughout of an anticipated and thus awaited resolution, is a vital, indeed, obligatory part of the narrative process, and we experience it, time and time again, in Mahler. However much the individual forms of Mahler’s movements may widely differ — the number of movements, their diverse characters — the over-arching idea of narrative is integral to all of them. The ‘frame’ — a beginning and end — is an indispensable part of narrative.
Incidentally, it was not only in their music that Mahler’s advocates and disciples proclaimed their enthusiasm. They were also vocal on his behalf in the sense of making propaganda to counter the absence of Mahler’s music from the concert halls. I thought it might interest you to hear just one example of what I mean: propaganda in musical action in the early 1940s when Britten was resident in the U.S.A. and was thinking of ways in which the living sound of Mahler might persuade reluctant ears to open. Hence his version for an orchestra smaller than the composer’s own — and remember that Mahler’s mis-called ‘gargantuan’ forces were often used as a stick with which to beat him — of the Minuet, the second movement, from the Third Symphony. Although the reduced version was made in 1941, it was not until 1969, at the Aldeburgh Festival, that Britten himself had the chance to conduct the English Chamber Orchestra in a performance of his reduction. A historical curiosity you may think, but one that still bears witness to the seriousness of his intention to bring Mahler’s work to public attention in a climate very different from today’s. I thought you might be interested to hear a fragment of Britten’s arrangement, in an off-the-air recording of the 1969 performance, making its first appearance on CD. It is not of course an ‘arrangement’ in any real sense but, rather, a magical, almost chamber-orchestral realization of Mahler’s original; and a chamber orchestra was very often at the heart of what today we acclaim as typical of Mahler’s approach to orchestration:
MUSIC, EX. NO. 1
Symphony No. 3, Minuet (second movement), from Rehearsal Figure 4 (doube bar), bar 70, slowish fade from 107 onwards: > on flute triplets, bars 108-9.
I am glad to have brought the question of Mahler’s concept of the orchestra into close focus at this early stage because it directly relates to the fundamental theme of this talk — the massive debt that the music of the twentieth century owes to him. Of course, one has heard now for years past of his exceptional powers as an orchestrator, his emphasis on instrumental solos, unusual combinations of instruments, etc., etc., ad infinitum, but no one, or so it seems to me, has isolated what I believe to be the two principal features of what I think of as Mahler’s revolutionary practice which over the span of his creative lifetime changed the history of the modern symphony orchestra as Mahler found it towards the end of the nineteenth century. The first is the radical change in the traditional balance between wind instruments — woodwind and brass, that is — and the string body.
To be sure, as I have argued before, the liberation of the wind had already begun with Mozart — it is no wonder that Mahler was so passionate a Mozartian — but Mahler, true to his innovative self, did not just modify the balance but reversed it. If I had to choose one crucial turning point, then it would be the Third Symphony, the long opening slow introduction of which is scored for wind, percussion and strings — though mainly the lower strings — and which must have astonished its first audiences because it released a sound and instrumental style that had never before been heard in the context of ‘symphony’, though it may have been anticipated here and there in the musical theatre. As I play a bit, please try to think back historically to the mid-1890s, when the work was conceived:
MUSIC EX. NO. 2
Symphony No. 3, first movement, from Rehearsal Figure 13 (double bar) to Figure 17, on trumpet motive, bars 208 – 12.
The reversal of the conventional balance and abandonment of any attempt at the homogeneity of the orchestra which had hitherto been one of its chief glories are self-evident, are they not? But there is also another matter arising which I believe to be of no less significance. I have already mentioned Mahler’s emphasis on solo writing for the instruments. Who, after all, had conceived quite such extraordinary, virtuoso writing for the trombone before Mahler? Berlioz, perhaps, was the artist who paved the way for him; Mahler himself acknowledged his influential predecessor in word and deed, that is to say, sound. But even Berlioz’s boldness is exceeded by Mahler’s. One might even describe this introduction of the Third without too much exaggeration as a kind of concertante number for solo trombones, tuba, wind and percussion.
But there is a rather subtler point I would like to make, one that still receives very little attention. I was asking ourselves to imagine the first audiences’ reaction to the new sound-world Mahler was unfolding in the Third Symphony. But what about the players? The shock, scepticism and sometimes downright resistance that Mahler not infrequently encountered from members of the orchestras he conducted has been amply documented. The exchanges between players and conductor could be tense, to put it mildly. But in the end Mahler had his way: the player having said his part was impossible, unplayable, found he could play it. Mahler had envisaged a possibility, a potentiality, for the instrument hitherto undreamed of. Thus it was that Mahler not only wrote undreamed of music for this instrument or that but at the same time extended the performing techniques and capacities of the players, a legacy that reverberated throughout the twentieth century and I am sure will continue to be a presence in the twenty-first. The modern symphony orchestra of today in terms of collective technical capacity owes a very real debt to Mahler, even when one has made allowances for the later generations of great orchestral innovators, among them Stravinsky and Bartók or Schoenberg and Webern, to name only four of the most important.
Stravinsky and Bartók? What on earth, I have sometimes been asked, have composers of that generation to do with Mahler? I will mention only one feature, what I name as the liberation of the percussion and its gradual evolution as the old century — the nineteenth — was quitted and the then new century — the twentieth — began, into virtually an independent ensemble in its own right. One thinks of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936), or his Sonata for two pianos and percussion (1937), while the major role the percussion ensemble plays in works by Stravinsky is self-evident; one can hardly miss it. It was Stravinsky’s stroke of revolutionary genius of course to turn the totality of a large symphony orchestra into a gigantic percussion orchestra; that was part of the unique breakthrough the Rite of Spring represents. But please don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting a direct influence of Mahler on Stravinsky, say, or Bartók, though we know that Stravinsky heard Mahler conduct his Fifth in St. Petersburg and was impressed by it — strange to think of the young Igor sitting in the audience. No, I am not talking about influence on style but about a whole process that was eventually to change the soundscape of twentieth century music. And as even the hastiest scrutiny of almost any Mahler symphony will show, he was among the earliest to embark on changing the status of the percussion department and promoting its remarkable independence.
Mahler and the orchestra: a big subject of immense importance. After all, it was not just the percussion band that started on its journey towards independence under Mahler’s guidance, but virtually every section of the orchestra. In short, the typical Mahler ‘orchestra’ consists of a collective or constellation of sectional orchestras — note the plural — which either achieve independence of their colleagues or, by means of cross-overs and cross-fertilization between sections, assemble themselves into unique combinations of instruments for the realization of a particular passage, a transition maybe, or a cadenza, or simply the affirmation of a marked contrast; and I stop there for a moment. How incredible it now seems that one of the sticks with which Mahler was so often beaten in the past, in the nineteen-twenties, thirties and forties, was his dependence on ‘gargantuan’ orchestral forces, a sure sign of his ‘megalomania’. These were the kinds of words and images that constantly recur in the adverse criticism of Mahler current in those decades. How incredible that the continuous process of de-construction and re-construction within the totality of the resources deployed, went virtually unnoticed and unheard by those who were too busy denouncing Mahler to open a score and examine what was really going on, on any typical page. How was it possible, I wonder, to go on and on about the ‘grandiloquence’, the ‘gigantism’, of the Eighth, and simply not notice a crucial transitional passage from that very symphony, for which Mahler compiles an idiosyncratic independent orchestra — piccolo, harmonium, celesta, piano, harps, flute, two clarinets, two solo violins, solo viola, and solo cello, the strings all playing harmonics pitched very high — to achieve the special colour and character that he was after; and all of it accomplished at a level of dynamics — triple piano — not normally associated with the ‘grandiose’.
MUSIC EX. NO. 3
Symphony No. 8, Part II, Rehearsal Figure No. 199, bar 1421 to Rehearsal Figure No. 202 + 4, fade on entry of chorus, ‘Alles Vergängliche’.
And by the way, that passage enables me to remark on an additional aspect of Mahler’s approach to the orchestra and its instruments: his exploring, that is, of new expressive possibilities in an instrument conventionally associated with the shrill or piercing. Mahler in fact raises the piccolo — that incredibly thin thread of sound we have just heard — to new, indeed unsuspected heights of poetry, a kind of piercing ecstatic serenity so pure and calm is it. And to bring that off, large resources had to be around from which the miraculous new sound could be assembled. Only Mahler could have thought of using the piccolo both to articulate and introduce the oncoming and exalted chorale, ‘Alles vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis’.
How I wish I could stay a bit longer with the Eighth, but let me make at least two points. First, that one of the reasons for a large assembly of resources was nothing to do with affirming a vibrant nationalism as is sometimes claimed today — not very likely from Mahler in any event — but a lot to do with creating a work in which as many categories of performers as possible might participate, including children and both amateurs (the chorus) and professionals (soloists and orchestra). Certainly one of the least recognized aspects of the Eighth is its communal character, an apparatus designed for communal participation, to exalt and ennoble, inspire and enjoy. Secondly, and perhaps again little acknowledged, its narrative, to my mind, is one of Mahler’s boldest. The conjunction of the Latin hymn, ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’, and the closing scene of Goethe’s Faust, may seem a problematic juxtaposition at first consideration, but I believe now that there is a perfect logic to it, one that I think Freud would have recognized if he had been musical, which alas he wasn’t — the logic, that is, of the relationship between the creativity of an artist and man- and woman-kind’s sexuality, sexuality, that is, as the fons et origo of humankind’s creative instinct. It is in that light, I believe, we should perceive the invocation of the Latin hymn which is then fulfilled and spelled out in Goethe’s closing scene. (Mahler in fact first got to know the hymn in a translation by Goethe.)
Let me return now for a moment or two to the Third Symphony, a work which for me incorporates so many of the features that I have been trying to describe. Certainly, the work is a powerful demonstration of that process of deconstruction and reconstruction, the concept not of an orchestra, but a collective of orchestras, that I have been at pains to emphasize. True enough, almost any single movement of the Third can be discussed in those terms. But there is a further truth; that while each movement of the symphony deploys an individual orchestra, the constitution of each is intimately related to its specific musical and, I would add, narrative ideas and images, the unfolding of which gives us the total, overall experience that is Mahler’s objective. I think I have said enough about the symphony’s opening act of deconstruction to have made the point. What the symphony’s ensuing movements, the Minuet, the Scherzo, the solo vocal setting of Nietzsche’s ‘Um Mitternacht’, the choral setting of the Wunderhorn poem, the ‘Morgenglocken’ (the ‘Morning Bells’) movement, what that sequence of movements vouchsafes is a series of orchestras, each orchestra appropriate to the strategy of the narrative. But the masterstroke, perhaps, is the culminating finale, the great Adagio that concludes the symphony, where Mahler puts together again what he has so remarkably dismembered — in the last movement, we hear what we have scarcely once heard across the preceding one and a half hours, the ‘homogeneity’ of the traditional symphony orchestra with, moreover, the balance within the orchestra restored, that is, with the strings prominent and sometimes predominant. Thus it is that the sonorous architecture of the work is directly related to Mahler’s evolving overall form which itself has its roots in the narrative that he wishes to tell — nothing less, and perhaps this is typical of our composer, than the creation of the world, of humankind and Man’s aspiring ascent to higher things.
I think Mahler leaves it to each of us to imagine what will offer us ultimate fulfilment. So, after the ‘Resurrection’ symphony, No. 2, we have what we might call Mahler’s ‘Creation’ symphony, No. 3; and after that, another unique narrative embodied in the Fourth Symphony, that finally terminates in a childlike vision of ‘heavenly life’; and it is the Fourth, perhaps, that represents the importance of narrative to Mahler at its most complex, most subtle and most original. Because, as a critic remarked after one of the very early performances of the work, to understand it, it has to be read backwards ‘like the Hebrew bible’ if we are properly to understand and above all enjoy the phenomenal intricacy of the musical organization that gets us from start to finish. There can be no doubt that while overt narrative — which, even so, is very different from a ‘programme’, an important qualification, this, I believe — although overt narrative may, after the Fourth, take, so to say, a back seat, the narrative principle was never abandoned by Mahler and comprehension of that basic drive, that basic thrust, is obligatory if we are to help ourselves to follow Mahler’s thinking in the later and indeed last symphonies. Need I add that it is no less essential that performers too, and perhaps conductors above all, understand how fundamental to Mahler’s architecture was the narrative idea; it is their responsibility to clarify for audiences the anticipations, interruptions, contradictions and evasions, even, all of which have a role to play in Mahler’s narrative process — disruption, I sometimes think, was as basic to his creative thinking as continuity — and which eventually culminate in resolution and revelation.
Two last thoughts about the Third. Mahler, I believe, was not just a musician who had his head in his scores and was not aware of, or curious about, what was going on in the world about him. We know too how he kept abreast with, or was at least profoundly sympathetic to, the new music of his time; but he was inquisitive, and also well informed, about psychology and philosophy, had many friends among leading painters, designers and architects of his day, and took more than a passing interest in the sciences. We should remember that he was married to Alma, the daughter of Emil Jakob Schindler, a famous artist of an earlier generation, that he knew the leading architect and designer Josef Hoffmann, one of whose remarkable houses he occupied when returning to Vienna from New York, during his American years, and we should recall what Freud wrote of him, expressing his admiration for ‘the capability for psychological understanding of this man of genius’.
It had always seemed probable to me, and I think to many others, that in conceiving the Third, Mahler was influenced by the current evolutionary theories of his time. We often find the name of the French evolutionary philosopher Henri Bergson mentioned in this context — I have often done so myself — though in fact his most famous theory, that of the ‘Life Force’ (‘Élan vital’) was not launched until well after the Third was completed. Nonetheless, it had always seemed to me safe to assume that, given Mahler’s inquiring mind, he had been intrigued by the then current post-Darwinian thinking. I was particularly interested therefore to be made acquainted by a friend (also of an inquiring mind) with an evolutionary scheme that long preceded Bergson or Mahler but most remarkably anticipates the sequence that Mahler finally came to adopt.
What I outline for you now derives from The Elizabethan World Picture (1943) by the famous historian E. M. W. Tillyard. In a chapter entitled ‘The Chain of Being’, he points out that the idea of the ‘chain’ began with Plato’s Timaeus, was developed by Aristotle, was adopted by the Alexandrian Jews, was spread by the Neo-Platonists, and from the Middle Ages till the eighteenth century was one of those accepted commonplaces, more often hinted at or taken for granted than set forth’.
To attempt a complete history of this potent evolutionary idea would not be possible in the time available today but what is of specific relevance to the Third is to understand that the ‘chain’ was also a ladder, in Tillyard’s words ‘educative both in the marvels of its static self and in its implications of ascent’ [my emphasis], in which, as the idea progressed — itself evolved across the centuries — Angels came to form ‘the medium between the whole angelic hierarchy and man’, functioning as ‘God’s messengers’. Thus it is that the chain or ladder descries a clear evolutionary progress, from the inanimate (think of Mahler’s first movement) to the vegetative (Nature), to creatures, birds and animals, and finally, by way of Angelic intervention, to man and his relation to God, the last rung on the ladder.
This, I am sure, is a very clumsy and inadequate summary of Tillyard’s commentary, but I think I have given some indication of the need here for more research into the sources of Mahler’s own evolutionary scheme which I believe Tillyard to show has its roots way back in pre-Christian beliefs which then developed to incorporate elements drawn from post-Christian imagery (the Angels, for example, and Man’s own suffering). It is remarkable that so little attention has been paid to these parallels in Mahler’s symphony, and we certainly need to find out more about how the medieval concept of the chain and ladder came to play such a fundamental role in the scheme — the programme — Mahler adopted in the 1890s. (I must express here my thanks to my friend David Meyer who drew my attention to Tillyard’s classic text.)
It is my belief that Mahler’s Third represents the first attempt to use music to enact the evolutionary history of Mankind. But I believe too that there is another kind of history that surfaces in the Third, this time not a philosophical, religious or scientific past, but a musical past, and returns me to my very first music example which was, you will remember, the Minuet. At first sight, or sound, one might well conclude that this movement is there simply because of the need for relaxation after the tumultuous sonic experience offered by the first movement. And up to a point that’s right. A contrast is obligatory. But the more one thinks about it, the more fascinating the choice of Minuet becomes. For one thing the Minuet is immediately followed by a Scherzo, and as Hans Keller was, I think, the first to point out, the result of this sequencing means we have the Minuet juxtaposed with its historical successor, the Scherzo; and given the context of this symphony, it can hardly have been accidental that Mahler introduced a bit of evolutionary musical history; it shows too that Mahler could be elegantly witty, a characteristic not often remarked upon. But of course there is more to it than that. The very concept of the Minuet is deliberately classical in character, perhaps not exactly neo- classical, as we understand the term, but certainly a quite conscious reflection of, and reference to, the past, to music’s past. And just for a moment or two I would like to talk about this singular feature of Mahler as a composer: his awareness of the past as a creative influence in his own work.
This shows up in diverse ways, among them for instance his constant references in his symphonies to past formal practice, to so-called sonata, first movement, form; a powerful component always in the thinking of his symphonic predecessors, it is very rarely absent from Mahler’s own first movements. It may be vestigial, it may often almost disappear altogether, it certainly becomes an evermore distant preoccupation as the years passed. No matter; that awareness was always there, something to remember when considering his own revolutionary formal innovations. Mahler certainly never abandoned the past. On the contrary, he rigorously explored it, parts of it on occasion that were strikingly unfamiliar to performers and audiences in his own day. This again is a huge topic in its own right and I shall confine myself to a couple of observations.
How fascinating it is, for example, to scrutinize the programmes that Mahler embarked on, when he had done with the Met in New York and taken on the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Mahler was never passive in his relationship to the past. The concerts that he planned as a ‘historical series’ were in their time, I suggest, remarkably and creatively inquisitive. Far from simply saluting or celebrating an established repertory, he was intent, it seems, on bringing to the attention of his audiences a whole range of musical experiences of a relatively unknown past. Unknown, or unfamiliar, even when the composer was J. S. Bach. Hence the historic importance of Mahler’s Bach Suite first heard at a Philharmonic concert in New York. Of course New York audiences knew about Bach as had audiences in Vienna, say, or Berlin; but what they did not know were Bach’s glorious orchestral Suites; and here was Mahler opening up a window on Bach, expanding his audiences’ horizons. In Vienna, he wasn’t given the chance.
Here in fact we find Mahler making history again, though in a rather different sense from which the term is normally associated with him. In this context we meet Mahler the educator, and it is perhaps in this area too that we should locate his arrangements for string orchestra of quartets by Beethoven and Schubert. At the same time however he was making history with and through Bach precisely in the sense that was most important for Mahler and for the evolution of music, of composition, in the twentieth century. His passion for Bach is now a familiar bit of Mahlerian history but we should not let our familiarity with it blind us to the sheer novelty of it when considered in historical context. I still recall my surprise, by the way, when Mahler’s surviving daughter Anna handed over to me in London a whole collection of scores of Mahler’s, materials it must have been that he had had for study or performance, to find among them a number of Bach’s cantatas, marked up in Mahler’s characteristic blue pencil: dynamics, crescendos and diminuendos, and so forth; and these were publications in Mahler’s hands well before his last years, his final period, when his exploration of Bach showed up so powerfully in his own music. In so doing he undoubtedly anticipated what was indeed to become another of the new century’s — the twentieth’s, that is — leading features, the so-called ‘Back to Bach’ movement and its bedfellow Neo-Classicism, ‘Music about Music’ — ‘Musik über Musik’ — as Adorno somewhere and somewhat sceptically remarked. But neither of those terms has much relevance to what Mahler was up to. In his amazing last years, his absorption of Bach released a creative storm, principally expressed, naturally, in polyphony and counterpoint, of a singular ferocity and ground-breaking originality. There was no element of ‘Back’ to anywhere in late Mahler; if anything, the message was Forward with Bach, a long way forward, as even the briefest of reminders from the Rondo-Burleske of the Ninth Symphony spells out:
MUSIC EX. NO. 4
Symphony No. 9, Rondo – Burleske, from double bar, bar 180 to Fig. 34, whereupon >.
Even by Mahler’s own exacting standards of voyaging out into new worlds of expression and finding the techniques to embody them — had seething counterpoint ever been put to quite such violent ends as this? — that movement from the Ninth remains a unique creative moment. To be sure, it would not have happened without Bach. But what did happen is testament to Mahler’s extraordinary capacity to fuel the future from a past — chronologically distinct pasts have a role to play in Mahler’s music — and then ignite it in an overpowering act of creative imagination. And how fascinating it is to hear that leap into the future and at the same time keep in mind Mahler the advocate, the pioneering educationalist, seriously trying to bring to his audiences’ attention areas of Bach’s own music that were by no means standard fare. Hence his Bach Suite that I mentioned a minute or two ago. It was given its première in New York in 1909.
It would be easy to spend all my remaining time on thinking about Mahler and Bach and the whole topic of counterpoint which, especially from the Fourth Symphony onwards, was to become one of his most prominent compositional techniques. It was indeed in the Fourth, precisely at the turn of the century, that Mahler’s preoccupation with counterpoint first manifested itself in a passage like the one that I will play you in a moment, from the development of the first movement of the symphony, in which Mahler’s motivic polyphony is revealed at its most intense and its most brilliant, brilliant in sound that is. One can not, in fact, make any distinction between the sound and the counterpoint. The success of the latter is entirely dependent on the clarity secured by the former; which allows me to return to a feature that I mentioned way back, the revolution Mahler effected in the relationships between the constituent sections that in former times made up the homogeneity of the symphony orchestra. Here’s the passage I have in mind, in which once again the wind deliver a high proportion of the developmental — that is to say, contrapuntal — argument:
MUSIC EX. NO. 5
Symphony No. 4, first movement, Rehearsal Figure 14 (double bar) bar 177 to Rehearsal Figure 16, > out by bar 211 or thereabouts.
The complexity and intensity of the counterpointing there makes it all the less surprising that a few years on Bach should be more overtly acknowledged by Mahler in his late works as well as in his performance repertory; and this reminds me not to depart from this topic without reference to what remains for me one of the most original and far-reaching materializations of Bach in Mahler, in the great ‘Abschied’ of Das Lied von der Erde, where I have suggested, and passionately repeat now, that behind that movement stands Bach and his Passions and his cantatas, music well known to Mahler. This I believe explains how it is that he so astonishingly confronts us, almost at the very opening of the movement, with a recitative with minimal orchestral accompaniment plus flute obbligato; while thereafter, as the ‘Abschied’ proceeds, it proves itself to be what to my mind is virtually a self-contained cantata for solo voice and orchestra:
MUSIC EX. NO. 6
Das Lied von der Erde, ‘Der Abschied’, Rehearsal Figures 22 – 23, bars 158 – 165.
I don’t need to be told that that’s a million miles from Bach. The great gong stroke alone makes that clear, that we are in another world; but rooted in Bach, and generated by Mahler’s unique absorption of Bach, which took no account of intervening centuries, the ‘Abschied’ most certainly is, in my considered view. What makes it all the more extraordinary in thinking about Bach in the context of Das Lied, is the fact that in this very same work Mahler opens up yet another path which I believe may find fulfilment in the new, the twenty-first, century, an encounter this time not with a past, and in some respects as I have said an unfamiliar past, but with a future, in which two world cultures, East and West, if one may be permitted such a preposterous generalisation, may find a mode of mutual creative collaboration. We talk a great deal these days about globalization, for the most part its commercial evils; but what I am thinking about is the new resources in terms of compositional techniques that the West has learned from the East, while there has been no little traffic in the reverse direction in more recent decades. In this field too it seems to me that Mahler was undeniably a major pioneer. I am aware of the fact that as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth, there was immense interest in the West in all the arts and crafts of the East, in painting, above all, but also in design, music and literature: Chinoiserie and Japonoiserie were key cultural buzz words in this period. But it was by no means all buzz and the acquisition of exotic knickknacks. In music there was specifically Debussy and the impact made on him and his compositional processes by his encounter with a Javanese gamelan at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1899, and there was a decorative spin-off from a pursuit of Orientalism that we often find in Ravel and Stravinsky. Mahler himself, I think quite knowingly, introduced the decorative into Das Lied; an example is the charming pentatonicism of ‘Von der Jugend’:
MUSIC EX. NO. 7
Das Lied, ‘Von der Jugend’, from start to Fig. 4, bar 29 > .
That’s the kind of pentatonic tune that we all knew as children and hammered out on the black notes of the piano. Part of Mahler’s intention, I believe, was to use this relatively familiar musical idea, with its ready-made association with the ‘Orient’, as an indication, easily heard, that we are to be encouraged to enter, to experience, quite literally, another world. The overt pentatonicism spells that out immediately and audibly for audiences; it — so to say — sets the scene. However, when we begin to delve more deeply into the work, and into the techniques that are ultimately responsible for the unique experience it vouchsafes, we begin to discover features of the techniques Mahler deploys much more thoroughgoing in their ‘Orientalism’ and more innovative in their essential character than the decorative profiles of ‘Von der Jugend’ or ‘Von der Schönheit’, though the latter movement soon reaches out and way beyond the merely decorative.
One of the ways in which it does so is to embark on an exuberant canon, to describe the young men on their horses who crave the attention of the girls picking lotus alongside the river. Interesting, is it not?, that counterpoint once again emerges as a prominent characteristic. Canon, of course, is a specific contrapuntal device in the West, with a long tradition behind it; moreover, it occurs with increasing frequency in Mahler’s late phase of composition, in the last — the two late — Wunderhorn songs, for example, and in Kindertotenlieder. It is also prominent in one of the four late Rückert settings, ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’, a magnificent song which so often seems to anticipate the style — no, ‘style’ is not adequate — the very language of the ‘Abschied’ in Das Lied. It brings to mind the movement’s coda in particular, in which the ecstatic polyphony of ‘Die liebe Erde allüberall/Blüht auf in Lenz . . . und ewig blauen licht die Fernen!’ is finally released. (Mahler’s own words colouring the pitches, by the way, not Hans Bethge’s.)
I think we can summon up for ourselves the peculiar radiance with which the ‘Abschied’ concludes, without resort to a recording. What I should prefer to concentrate on for a moment is ‘Ich bin der Welt . . .’. It is important to remember in the context of the Rückert settings that the poet himself was also a distinguished Oriental philologist. It must have been the case, though not often remarked upon, that Mahler’s absorption of Rückert would have prepared him for his immediate creative response to the volume, shown him by a friend, of Hans Bethge’s German language versions of Chinese poems, poems that Mahler was later to use for the composition of Das Lied.
There is not only this significant literary link with the Orient by way of Rückert , pre-dating Das Lied, but — and more importantly — there are pronounced technical features of the Rückert settings, an overt pentatonicism, for example, that already prefigures the pentatonicism we meet again in Das Lied. But more important than this, I believe, is the character of the relationship between voice and orchestra in ‘Ich bin der Welt . . .’, a relationship Mahler was systematically to develop in Das Lied and, as you will now hear, one which is generated by an extended canonic interplay between the singer and his accompaniment:
MUSIC EX. NO. 8
‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen . . .’, Fig. 3 – Fig. 6 > on cor anglais.
It is impossible with the benefit of retrospective hindsight not to hear there that Das Lied was, so to say, just round the corner; but it is not, I want to suggest, just a matter of a shared spirit of resignation — call it what you will — that unites the ‘Abschied’ and ‘Ich bin der Welt . . .’, but the deployment of canon as the principal vehicle, the means, to achieve that expressive end; and it is precisely in this area, I believe, that Mahler and the Orient join hands.
To be sure, canon had been a long-standing preoccupation of Mahler’s — one only needs to think back to the ‘Frère Jacques’ movement of the First Symphony, the Funeral March, which opens with a round, a canon. Some might argue, then, that there is nothing very surprising about canon as a device surfacing, though in a much more elaborate form, in the late songs and in Das Lied. The surprise rests, I believe, in the fact that we also find in Das Lied a type of counterpoint, a form of contrapuntal activity, with a long tradition behind it in the East, in the Orient, heterophony; and I want to leave you with the thought that it is canon that provides a communicating bridge between the two musical cultures. Heterophony is in effect a unison melody simultaneously combined with different rhythmic versions of that same basic melody, often delivered at the octave, above or below. That is a very simplistic explanation of a technique that in South East Asia produces a polyphony of extraordinary rhythmic and textural complexity. It is, if you like, a challenge to musicians to see how much can be got out of a unison. It is by no means without parallels in Western tradition, for which very reason there is no doubt to my mind that heterophony in its Eastern guise has proved to be a technique that beckons to the growing number of Western composers interested in exploring the resources of the East; and it does not surprise me at all that composers with a pre-disposition to think canonically — that is, to exploit the possibilities of a melody that can, at a given distance and appropriately transposed, be combined with itself — should find heterophony particularly appealing. Such, I want to suggest, was certainly the case with both Mahler and Britten, to name only one later composer of genius who in his later years voyaged Eastwards on the wings of heterophony.
So it is, that Das Lied, in its course, juxtaposes both canon and heterophony, the latter notably servicing the impassioned first movement, ‘Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde’, with counterpoint that it can have been no accident has its roots unequivocally in classical Oriental practice. Mahler will take a motive and then, even though sticking to the same pitches, will create a voice and orchestra polyphony out of the combined statements of it in different rhythms and, not infrequently, octaves. One would never guess that so few pitches
‘Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde’, bars 1 – 16, horns, strings.
could produce music of such velocity, drama and passion. What you are going to hear is the end of the development section of the movement and the transition into the recapitulation; and I promise you that on close inspection you will find the texture is crammed with heterophonic practice:
MUSIC EX. NO. 9
Das Lied, ‘Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde’, from Fig. 39 (double bar), upbeat to bar 325 to Fig. 44 + 6 > on voice, out by bar 369.
You will have noticed that at the exact moment of the recapitulation in the song the pentatonic idea that we have heard at the very onset returns. Nothing decorative about it or the uses to which it is put. I can’t help, since I’m near a keyboard, but remind you that Das Lied ends unforgettably as it began, with the same pitches, now conflated into a chord that combines the A minor of the first movement with the C major and added sixth, the chord that concludes — or rather, doesn’t conclude — the ‘Abschied’, the chord that for Benjamin Britten was a sonic image of eternity, though not eternal life perhaps so much as the perpetual renewal of the earth.
‘Der Abschied’, bars 568 – 572.
So it is then, for all the reasons that I have tried to touch on, I regard Mahler’s last songcycle as one of the first and most substantial, because creative, encounters between East and West in the twentieth century. It is simply not enough to think of Debussy alone as playing the principal historical role at this moment in time. Mahler has to join Debussy, Vienna has to join Paris. A profound cultural trend was located not in one European culture, but in two, cultures which, quite wrongly to my way of thinking, have so often been considered culturally opposed, a misjudgment that has led in turn to much cultural confusion.
In this specific context, it is ironic indeed that Berlioz, from whom Mahler learned so much, has never been wholly accepted by the culture of his own country as an integral, ‘authentic’, part of it; while Mahler, for so long dismissed in France post-First World War as an all too authentic manifestation of ‘Germanic’ tradition, has won, post-Second World War the acclaim and acceptance in France that he commands elsewhere. I shall have more to say about this cultural question a bit later.
I have focused so far on only one major dimension of Das Lied, but of course there are many others which like the Oriental dimension were to cast a long shadow on and into the twentieth century. Mahler raised the narrative power and scope of the songcycle to new heights in Das Lied, not to speak of the remarkable formal innovation of the first movement, ‘Das Trinklied’, which unfolds an Exposition and its (varied) repeat, a Development section, and then, via a lead-back, a Recapitulation, a basic scheme we would not normally associate with what concept of a songcycle but rather with the classical and romantic symphony. Das Lied, following the formal paths opened up in Kindertotenlieder, conjoins symphony and songcycle, at least until the ‘Abschied’ when the narrative drama — no less than a transition from anticipations of mortality to death itself and its transformation in turn into renewal — required new forms to embody the new thought and feeling which characterize the ‘Abschied’. Let me leave you with the reflection that the story of Mahler’s three orchestral songcycles is not one whit less innovative than the much more often told story of the symphonies and the suggestion that much more serious consideration should be given to the sub-title Mahler bestowed on his last songcycle: ‘Eine Symphonie’. Das Lied, in my view, can not be separated out from the history of Mahler’s symphonies and their ever newly evolving forms.
I sometimes think of Mahler’s works — the totality of them — as constituting a kind of mythic, epic Praeludium to the twentieth century in the sense that wherever one turns, to whichever work one turns, it is virtually impossible not to hear outlined, somewhere along the way, an unmistakable anticipation of a significant technique, the opening up of new formal paths, of significant areas of expression to fresh exploration and fresh inspiration, by which the new century was to be motivated. I fear I may already have tried your patience, and if I were to attempt anything like comprehensiveness then you would find me taking up more or less permanent residence here in Boulder. Festivals would come and go but not I: I should become not a Phantom of the Opera but a Phantom of the Festival whose distinguishing feature was that he never stopped talking.
More seriously, I am conscious that time passes, and while there are still a number of topics and issues that I want to bring in train as further evidence of Mahler’s unique unveiling of routes that were to lead directly to the new music of the new century, I have tried to choose items that, from my point of view, are relevant to the other part of my brief: what, in the twenty-first century we should be doing for Mahler, not in any sentimental sense, but to ensure that succeeding generations have a reasonable expectation of hearing his works in performances that realize, to put it not too ambitiously, what can be convincingly suggested were the composer’s intentions when he wrote them.
I have said a fair amount already about Mahler’s concept of the orchestra but perhaps have not given sufficient emphasis to one of his most striking contributions to the history of the orchestra, his creation of the idea — the concept — of the chamber orchestra. I believe that historically we have to attribute that quite specifically to the concert, a ‘Lieder-Abend with Orchestra’, given in Vienna on 29 January 1905, in the small hall of the Musikverein, when the programme included not only the first performance of a group of Wunderhorn songs but also the première of Kindertotenlieder, the second of the orchestral songcycles, along with the first public hearing of the four independent Rückert settings for voice and orchestra (one should write, in truth, for four differently compiled or constituted orchestras!) The programme was repeated, with minor variations a few days later, and then taken to Graz, some months later, where it formed part of the ‘Tonkünstlerfest’, whose director was Richard Strauss. It was in an exchange of letters with Strauss that Mahler momentously announced that his songs should be performed, ‘in the manner of chamber music [Kammermusikton]; and as is now well known, for the concerts I’ve just mentioned, he insisted on small halls with a correspondingly intimate acoustic. To be sure, this development, with hindsight, had already been anticipated in what I have earlier described as Mahler’s deconstruction of the orchestra into a collective of orchestras or ensembles; to take that process one step further and, moreover, to write of it so unequivocally, was doubtless a consequence of practices that had been part of his orchestral thinking across the years which gave birth to his symphonies.
Once again the influence of Mahler’s ‘Kammermusik’ precedents exercised a direct influence on succeeding generations of composers who embraced and absorbed the Mahler legacy and his specific aesthetic of the orchestra, composers, some of whom might be thought even to have been the very antithesis of Mahler in personality and aesthetic intention and ambition: Stravinsky, for example, or Bartók, or Hindemith. But once again it is not ‘influence’ as it is generally understood that I am talking about, but practice and principles embodied in compositional techniques which later proved to serve composers entirely distinct in style and belonging to contrasting cultural traditions. I return here to a point I made earlier, the inhibiting assumption that cultures with a specific national identity have about them a built-in, hands-off exclusiveness; if it is a French tradition you have in sight, then look elsewhere if it is an Austro-German tradition that you want to zoom in on. But the truth is, as I’ve tried to show in the case of the Orientalism of Das Lied, this was an event that traversed cultures, unthinkingly supposed to be mutually exclusive: Paris or Vienna, Mahler or Debussy. The concept of the chamber orchestra encountered no culturally imposed or imaginary borders.
And while on the topic of the convention of supposedly opposed cultures, when the artificial image of one culture has excluded comprehension and identification with the other, it is relevant perhaps to introduce into our discussion the composer I describe as the Italianate Mahler. At first sight or sound this may seem to be a conjunction that makes little sense; but only to those, I suggest, whose closed minds and ears preclude their hearing, say, during a performance of Verdi’s Otello or Aida a whole range of inspirations and influences that in the course of Mahler’s lifetime were to leave their mark on his music. It is certainly not without significance that, in a conversation with Bauer- Lechner, he acknowledged his own debt to Verdi in the field of orchestration. But it was not by any means Verdi alone, whose operas he knew so well from conducting them, who was the source of Mahler’s Italian connection. Among many others there was also Bellini; and it is Mahler in Bellini- mode who surfaces unforgettably in the Eighth Symphony in the famous Adagissimo, when Mater gloriosa swims into view — strings and harp — and Mahler wittily and consciously lapses into Italian for his summons to the strings to play their ecstatic melody sempre molto cantando!
By far the clearest exposition I’ve ever read of the culturally impeding mindset I mentioned earlier — Paris v. Vienna (or Berlin) — is to be found in an early, sardonic essay by Marcel Proust, published in Les Plaisirs et les jours, long before he embarked on his monumental novel, A la recherche du temps perdu. Here is just part of an exchange between two imaginary friends, Bouvard and Pécuchet, whose names Proust pinched from Flaubert, one of his great predecessors. One of them — Bouvard —is a resolute Wagnerian. In fact he has never heard a score by that ‘Brawler of Berlin’ as Wagner is described by Bouvard’s anti-Wagnerian friend, Pécuchet, himself ‘always patriotic and always misinformed’ (as Proust caustically remarks). And why was this? Because the Conservatoire — and remember Proust was writing in the 1890s — the Conservatoire, the equivalent in Paris of the Vienna Conservatoire which Mahler attended, was ‘dying of routine between the stutterings of Colonne and the lispings of Lamoureux’ (these last were two of the principal concert-giving orchestral societies of the time in Paris). Proust’s ‘dying of routine’ inevitably brings to mind Mahler’s ‘Tradition ist Schlamperei (‘Tradition is sloppiness’).
The absurdity of the exchange of cultural insults is exposed when Pécuchet wades in: ‘In spite of the efforts of all your fine gentlemen’ — the Wagner camp, that is — ‘our beautiful country of France is still the country of clarity and French music will be clear, or there will be no French music’. Pécuchet, Proust continues, ‘would strike the table with all his might to emphasize his words’ and release yet further volleys of abuse: ‘I doubt if the Valkyrie is even liked in Germany . . . but to French ears it will always be the most infernal torture, and the most cacophonic! and, let me add, the most humiliating to our national pride’. And so on, and so on.
This, let me hasten to remind you, is Proust in sardonic mode. He was himself a passionate Wagnerian; the Ring indeed was to have a demonstrable influence on the organization of his own epic masterpiece. But he is making in the 1890s a highly serious and combative point about the collisions between images of national cultures which bear little resemblance to reality, and — of particular relevance to what I’m saying today — were often used as instruments of aggressive criticism. For example, I can remember reading as a schoolboy in a compendium for music lovers, first published in 1934, and running through countless reprints, sentences prompted by an assessment of Mahler’s Eighth, the last sentence of which reads — I’ll spare you what precedes it — ‘In this work and in Schönberg’s Gurrelieder . . . the megalomania of Central Europe reached its apex’. Wow. Not just a megalomaniac composer but the whole of Central Europe. It makes odd reading now, does it not?, but it also shows how obsessive and inimical to rational thought the reaction against German Kultur had become.
To be sure, in the wake of the First World War, we have to recognize the force of the reaction against the arts, and music especially, of Austro-Germany. History and Politics and Nationalism all combined here to form a kind of united front against a tradition which in many fields had indeed reigned supreme for centuries. No doubt this was an insurrection that had to happen and was in fact to have some remarkably fruitful creative consequences. It could be argued that it was, historically speaking, a necessary liberation. But the supreme oddity of it, the irony of it, was the tarring of Mahler with a brush that was simply wide of the mark — ‘grandiose’, ‘monumental’, ‘megalomaniac’, ‘megalithic’, ‘monomaniac’, ‘grandiloquent’, ‘mammoth’, etc., etc. This was a vocabulary that once was commonly used to describe the character of Mahler’s musical personality; and although those days, thank God, have passed, it is still possible to run across it here and there. The irony to which I have just referred was compounded by the general ignorance of the music which was dismissed so boldly, and above all by the woeful failure to realize that almost everywhere in Mahler were to be found signs and seeds and indeed deeds of the very counter-revolution that was being espoused. It is a remarkable fact that, a few enlightened heroes apart, there was no general understanding that Mahler in his lifetime was in truth already part of that future which we now ourselves inhabit.
Pierre Boulez, without doubt, is symbolic of the change in cultural attitudes that has evolved during the last half of the twentieth century. He is one of the most radical creative figures post- Second World War, French and in the best sense an apostle of ‘French’ culture; but in addition, he is not only an admirer of Mahler but a fascinating interpreter of the symphonies, or of those at least to which he feels close. False cultural distinctions have at last been erased, it seems, and there is a kind of superb logic about the fact that at the end of the century in which Mahler died we were able to hear his works conducted by a one-time leading advocate of twentieth century modernism. I think Mahler might have relished the logic of it; it might even have reminded him of his own cross-cultural espousal of Debussy during his last years in the United States. (I wonder however what Proust’s Pécuchet might have made of Boulez conducting the Ring at Bayreuth! Just think of it — a Frenchman!)
This may have proved too lengthy a digression, but I think the relevance of it will strike you when I return to the topic that started it all off: the birth of the chamber orchestra that was an integral part of Mahler’s later vocal music, which he came to regard as representing his Kammermusikton. And bearing that in mind, and all that I’ve said earlier about his deconstruction of the orchestra —just remember that each Wunderhorn song, each Rückert setting, in fact has its own orchestra, independent of its companions — and if one checks the reality of his orchestral imagination, of his sound, against the fictitious dismissal of him as a post-Wagnerian burdened with the mammoth baggage of an exhausting and exhausted past, one is then brought face to face with one of the most grotesque misconceptions that not so long ago plagued the reception of Mahler’s music. And if I have chosen to concentrate on the idea of the chamber orchestra, it is, I repeat, because that concept often represents for composers of today and doubtless tomorrow the orchestral ideal, the ideal sonority, that in the past it was the function of the symphony orchestra to provide.
Now, we live in a period when all the Mahlerian battles may seem to have been won. Performances abound across the globe, there is a world audience for Mahler, an unceasing torrent of recordings: so why don’t we just sit back and feel good? But it is precisely here, in the performance field, that I think there are battles still to be won. For example, to stick for a moment to the chamber music issue, it is of vital importance that now we have clear evidence of how Mahler wanted his songs performed, we should act upon it. I pay tribute here to the dedicated work done in this sphere by Renata Stark-Voit and Thomas Hampson in Vienna which has made accessible archival information about the string forces involved in Mahler’s 1905 premières of his songs. In my estimation, this results in a revelation of the songs themselves, of their unique, chamber-like sound, above all. I have been active myself in this area in very recent times and have had the luck to work with two conductors in Europe, Riccardo Chailly and Kent Nagano, in trying to secure performances that respected what we must believe to have been Mahler’s radical reduction of the string body; and I can assure you that the contrast with what has been standard performance practice is extraordinary.
There are a couple of recordings on the way that I hope will claim your attention when they are released; in addition, they are recordings which have taken into account the voices that Mahler seems to have had in mind when composing the songs. I am not for a moment suggesting that we should close our ears to a Janet Baker performing Kindertotenlieder because Mahler composed the cycle for a baritone: that would be idiotic. Nonetheless, it can never be other than helpful to performers to know what was the ‘ideal’ voice Mahler heard in his imagination when composing his songs. Of one thing one can be absolutely certain; he would have preferred an inspired contralto to an indifferent baritone. I must add finally that although progress is being made, for a performance I heard not so long ago in the Royal Albert Hall in London, the young and indisputably talented conductor on the podium, and himself a great Mahler enthusiast, had not done his homework. The platform to my prejudiced eyes, seemed to be awash with strings and the result, to my equally prejudiced ears, was horrible.
So it is, then, that I believe all of us who have something to offer in this field should take a New Year resolution at the beginning of the new century to do what we can to secure performances that are authentic in this sense, that they try to recover the freshness, boldness, unpredictability, surprise and sheer shock that we know formed part of the impact the symphonies made on their first hearing.
It is precisely these sometimes intendedly disturbing qualities, shock in particular, that I fear the now worldwide consumption of Mahler, the flood of recordings, the iconic status among aspiring conductors that the symphonies have attained, combine to put at risk. (No conductor it seems can be taken seriously these days if he does not have, along with his baton in his knapsack, the ambition to record a complete cycle of the symphonies.) I exaggerate, of course; but there is to my mind a real danger of a cosmetic blandness, a softening, disguising, smoothing over, in short a blunting of the sharp edges and thereby making acceptable a corpus of music that the composer more often than not wanted to arouse discomfort, anxiety, disbelief, pain, ambiguity. Here again I want to suggest that Mahler was far ahead of his time: the intent, the capacity to shock, was to become one more of those leading features of the twentieth century that he had substantially anticipated. Alas, in later decades, the ‘shocking’ in the arts, often deteriorated into triviality. Mahler in fact was no stranger to triviality; but he used it, characteristically and creatively, time and time again, as a means of caustic commentary on slovenly expectations and the threadbare feelings that accompany them.
Everyone here I am sure is familiar with one of the most famous examples in all Mahler of his capacity, his intent, to shock by a highly original manipulation of the seemingly trivial in a context in which audience expectations would have led them to expect something quite other. I believe it was part of his strategy not to produce an unprecedented shock of his own but also —though this may have been an over-optimistic ambition — to remind his public that they had got into the habit of receiving a ‘Funeral March’ whether by Beethoven, say, or Wagner, as just another piece of lovely music, just the thing for a comfortable Sunday afternoon in the concert hall. (Mahler was an enemy of habit.) We all know the saying that familiarity can breed contempt. I’m not sure it was contempt exactly that Mahler had as a target, but rather a whole culture whereby audiences ceased to respond to, to be aware of, even, the challenge that many masterpieces from the past had originally presented. It was to correct this corruption induced by familiarity that I think was at least part of his intention in his First Symphony, in the slow movement, which he permitted to be described as an ‘Andante grottesco’ [my emphasis] in an early performance that he conducted himself. But I guess no one at all could have been prepared for what they actually heard themselves listening to. These opening bars of the movement remain one of the most discussed passages in all of Mahler:
MUSIC EX. NO. 10
Symphony No. 1, slow movement, from start to 4 bars after Fig. 4. > on continuation of lower strings’ entry.
It is my conviction that that performance, from which my excerpt comes, marvellously realizes what Mahler wanted his audience to hear, yes, to be, shocked by; and I expect many of you will have recognized the recording itself, where Dimitri Mitropoulos conducts the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra — a recording that belongs to 1940 and, as far as I can determine, the first recording to be made of the symphony. A historic recording from more than one point of view. That wiry, truly grotesque, out of tune sound, has nothing ‘beautiful’ about it, certainly nothing solemn about it; and if we can think back to 1889, it realizes, I believe, what was Mahler’s intent, to challenge his audiences’ assumptions about what a Funeral March ought to be. But that much about the First Symphony’s slow movement has been said often enough, and I don’t want to try your patience by repeating it. Instead, I pose a question: how often in fact do we in a performance of the First in our own day hear from the solo double bass anything that remotely resembles what we’ve just heard from that rightly celebrated Mitropolous recording?
It might amuse you to know that when working with one of the major European orchestras on the First, an orchestra renowned for its Mahler performances, I spent a long time trying to persuade the principal double bass, an outstanding young player, to persuade him — no, to stop him beautifying that opening solo and thus stripping it of its intended character and above all of its power to shock. Here was a living example of that unconscious process of cosmetic beautification that I believe to be a creeping threat to the genuine authenticity of Mahler performances today. There was no ill-will on the player’s part, simply an inability —and this in itself is an interesting point — to shed, even temporarily, all that he had ever been taught about playing the double bass. You will recall that I mentioned way back the extraordinary advances made in instrumental techniques by the sheer difficulty and novelty of what Mahler habitually demanded of his players. Eventually they rose to the occasion, met the challenges, and in so doing, they not only advanced their techniques but also generated the tension that was, I’m sure, characteristic of performances that Mahler conducted himself. It was of course a tension that in the very first place was an in-built component of the musical ideas themselves. Nowadays, all these challenges have been overcome. Orchestral virtuosity flourishes, and there is no denying that Mahler’s own works played a fundamental role in creating it. But it brings its own perils, and I hope in this century, as it progresses, we can campaign against the smoothness and blandness which can often contradict the very contradictions with which Mahler wants to confront us.
The Funeral March from the First is, as a whole, a locus classicus in Mahler’s oeuvre, replete as it is with so many examples of innovations that were to form the basis of his unique world of experience, and most of which were to have a role to play in the music of the generations of younger composers who succeeded him, irrespective of their national origin. In my doubtless untidy way I’ve mentioned quite a few of these influential anticipations of how the twentieth century was to sound; but one could scarcely move on from the Andante of the First without noting that it was here that Mahler seriously launched the concept of the vernacular — after all, the movement opens with music from a vernacular repertory, the ‘Frère Jacques’ round or catch, relocated however in a disorienting minor key — a bold strategy that led to an extraordinary expansion of the language and resources of romantic music that was indeed Mahler’s inheritance. His feat in incorporating into the symphony so many kinds of vernacular musics — my plural is deliberate —that had hitherto been kept out in the cold, obliged to keep their distance, cannot be over-estimated. It is surely the case that he broke down more cultural barriers, in purely musical terms, than almost any other composer one can think of, certainly of his generation. His music, to put it perhaps rather oddly, is class-less in the materials it deploys, and traverses the spectrum of the diverse musics — from the streets, concert halls, theatres, parade grounds, dance halls and ballrooms — that serviced the society of which he was part. It is surely that comprehensiveness, that huge inclusiveness, that must be one of the reasons for the breadth of appeal his works have proved to make to a global audience itself of incalculable diversity. (I think, by the way, this was a point very well made by Robert Olson in his introductory note to the Festival Programme Book this year.)
Mahler and the vernacular is another huge subject in itself. Those of my generation will remember that one of the earliest criticisms of him was aimed at his unconscionable ‘vulgarity’, because, I assure you, that was how his innovative deployment of the vernacular was almost always heard in the past. This alone goes to show the kind of cultural barriers that had to be brought down before much progress could be made in comprehending the kind of realities with which his music confronts us.
And of course there were many different kinds of vernacular realities that Mahler dealt in; ‘Frère Jacques’ is only one of them in the movement from the First we’re thinking about; for instance there’s the street band, complete with obligatory bass drum and cymbal, that erupts mid-stream, a vernacular intrusion that is one of the earliest examples again of a process that was to become ever more important throughout Mahler’s life, what I identify as his preoccupation with the mobility of music, of music approaching, intruding and receding; music as it were overheard by a stationary, captive audience at every conceivable distance, near or far; music that approaches, passes us by, fades; one music that picks up the thread of the discourse while another music altogether, in its own rhythm, marches off.
Mention of this mobility reaffirms for me the absolute necessity, often lost sight of in present- day concert performances, of striving to realize Mahler’s array of dynamics, which so often are directly related to this concept of mobility both within the orchestra and without. And here I am bold enough to suggest that a work like Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gruppen, in which three diversely constituted orchestras are strategically located around a concert hall and the sound each group generates either passed round, so that the music is in continuous motion — continuously mobile — or heard simultaneously in different combinations of the groups — Gruppen, I suggest, could never have happened without the precedents for mobility, interplay and simultaneous combination first explored, consciously, as an aesthetic strategy, by Mahler. The exploitation of acoustic space has to have a high place in any accounting of his excursions into a future that has become very much our present.
It may also strike some of you as far-fetched to introduce the name of Webern into the context of this talk, though we should always remember that he was an ardent advocate of Mahler during the composer’s lifetime; and after his death was, from all reports, a remarkable Mahler interpreter, of the Second Symphony in particular. He was, too, in the audience in 1905 at that memorable ‘Lieder- Abend’ in Vienna which I have mentioned so often for one reason or another. In any event, my approach to the Webern/Mahler compositional relationship is one that I believe has not often been remarked upon: their joint deployment of a positive deluge of dynamic markings. If one scrutinizes almost any typical page from one of Mahler’s symphonies, especially a highly active page, with a lot going on, one has to conclude that the proliferation of teeming dynamics in fact represents — almost — an independent compositional dimension. I am not just thinking of the distinctions of fortes and pianos, but subtle gradations of sound that articulate distance, not just in an on-stage/off-stage dichotomy but within the orchestra, e.g. the layering of dynamics between simultaneously combined parts. This process, which I think was initiated and developed by Mahler across the decades, undoubtedly left its mark on Webern, whose dynamics — often at the extreme end of the pianissimo, for which Mahler again provided him with ample precedents — took the process several stages further forward; and the result of that was the systematic ordering of dynamics to form an independent compositional parameter along with all the other components of composition — pitch, rhythm, motive, etc., etc. — an ultimate evolution which characterized the music of the European avant-garde post-1945.
Having raised this issue of dynamics —but it was Mahler who raised it first! — it seems only logical to pursue it for a moment in the context of the performances I still hope to hear as the twenty- first century progresses. It has only been during the last few years, when I have had the good fortune to be involved in performances with orchestras, conductors, soloists — the whole performing apparatus — that I first became aware of the difficulties that Mahler’s multiple dynamics pose. Trying to persuade an orchestra to play really softly, achieving the triple or quadruple pianissimo that Mahler sometimes calls for, is very hard work. The players may have the best of intentions and for a handful of bars they may produce the ideal sound; but sustaining an intense pianissimo for any length of time is one of the most challenging technical feats that they have to face: the rigour, the concentration, slackens, and all too soon they revert to a blank, featureless mezzo piano or mezzo forte.
Mahler especially in his last years was a master of sighs and whispers, especially for the strings. Just because these passages — the closing bars of the slow movement of the Ninth, for instance — are dramatic, albeit the manifestation of a fragmenting interior or spiritual drama, and because Mahler himself helps the players by his disposition of his fragments among divided strings, the composer’s dynamics are often scrupulously realized in performance. But to turn to a much earlier work and to a relatively simple — in principle —example, how often have any of us heard the final stanza of ‘Das himmlische Leben’ in which the orchestra — and the soloist too — deliver the triple pianissimo that Mahler calls for? I’m sure that the performance of the Fourth we’re going to hear as part of this MahlerFest will not disappoint us; but I stress, this example I’ve chosen is not a matter of pedantry or poetic sentiment but, rather, a crucial illustration of the overall narrative role that Mahler’s dynamics can play as integral part of his symphonic thinking, spelling out the relationship between dynamics and overall form. This is, for sure, the transcendent movement in the symphony, both a moment of revelation (so this is what heaven is going to be like) and the end of a long and complex narrative initiated by the symphony’s opening bars; the goal has been reached, but it is not only the end that has been achieved but a final clarification and justification of the otherwise ambiguous beginning, the point (B minor) we started from, embodied in the hushed affirmation of E major which it is the business of the last stanza of the concluding song to render. In all of this the role of the given but so often disregarded dynamics have a vital role to play. The more we have to strain our ears to hear what that last stanza is telling us — and away with any notions of a false naïveté or the importation of a child’s treble — the closer we get I am convinced to what Mahler wanted. I recognize that this demands a lot of time and hard slog from conductor, singer and players, but the rewards of a barely audible pianissimo are transforming: it comes as a shock of a totally unique kind. And it’s because shock is almost always associated with loudness, an explosion, a crescendo, that I deliberately focused in on the transfiguring pianissimo that should bring ‘Das himmlische Leben’, and with it the symphony, to a close.
Mahler, I need hardly tell you, also knew how to summon up music of an exceptional intensity that is also exceptionally loud, though here again there are multiple distinctions to be made between the degrees of loudness that he calls for and which, no less than his pianos and pianissimos, demand not just the closest scrutiny but precise realization if we are to hear his orchestration in depth; and dynamics are intimately related to textural depth.
I emphasize once again the relationship in Mahler between organization of dynamics and form. The first movement of the Ninth, one of the basic documents of twentieth century music, is built I believe round a dynamic concept, the idea of a recurring crescendo that leads to a climax, each repetition of which grows in dynamic intensity until, almost literally, the music — the movement — explodes, detonates, and falls to pieces; the process of re-forming — picking up the pieces — constitutes the movement’s unforgettable transitions. In the case, then, of one of the formally most innovative of all Mahler’s first movements, its form is dictated by its dynamic. I might be accused of over simplification, but it is my conviction that in this movement, my early schoolboy experience of which left me physically shaken, shocked, such was the impact of it, Mahler, as no one else before him — perhaps it is only in Wagner that we might uncover a precedent or two — systematically exploits the hyper-expressive potentialities of just one dynamic marking — the hairpin — the crescendo. That, ultimately, tells us all we need to know about the principle that generates the movement’s unique form.
You will have noticed that shock has been one of many sub-themes of this talk today; and it is not surprising that I find I have returned to that topic in the context of Mahler’s dynamics. That the wheel seems to be turning full circle suggests that it is time to begin to draw this already long enough session to a close. But before I do so, please bear with me while, with my last few examples, I try to complete the circle. For a start, it seems to me that the capacity to shock was already part of Mahler’s burgeoning creative personality, already a weapon in his strategic armoury, at a very early stage, in fact in his first major work, the cantata, Das klagende Lied. In recent years we’ve been able to familiarize ourselves with the first version of the work, in performance and a recording, along with the hitherto unpublished score of the Erstfassung. The passage I’m going to play you from the original second part of the cantata is interesting judged by any standards, the more so if one bears in mind that it is an eighteen-year-old composer we are listening to. Here already is Mahler exploring the mobility of sound that figures high on my list of his contributions to twentieth-century music. But in this particular instance, taken from the first version of Klagende Lied, he introduces something in addition to mobility, in fact an engagement between two tonalities a semitone apart, C major, for the off-stage ensemble of trumpets, timpani and cymbals, and C flat major, for the main orchestra. To be sure, these are relatively brief confrontations and fall short of a fully fledged polytonal collision. John Williamson has wisely remarked that the passage resists conventional analysis if only because of Mahler’s obvious intention that ‘the two musical streams should not coalesce into a single harmonic field’; and to add to the dis-synchronization, Mahler has the off-stage ensemble in 3/4 and the main- stage orchestra in 4/4. Let’s hear the early precedent for so much of what was to come later in Mahler’s music, the exploration by diverse means of acoustic space:
MUSIC EX. NO. 11
Das klagende Lied, Erstfassung, orch. score, Part II, ‘Der Spielmann’, fade in from bar 219, fade out bar 230 (interventions of off-stage ensemble).
These days we may not find that so much of a shock; but remember, that music belongs to 1878- 1880. What I wonder, or who, was Mahler’s specific model? And if there were one group of people (Brahms and Goldmark among them) it did shock, it was almost certainly the members of the Beethoven Prize Committee to whom he submitted his score and by whom it was adjudicated and rejected in 1881. It could well have been a passage like the one we have just heard that proved the final straw. But we also know, fascinatingly, that when Mahler returned to the cantata to revise it, he was astonished to find, in his own words, ‘the Mahler whom you all know was already fully and instantly developed at that time’; and promptly christened it his Opus 1. To be sure, that C major/C flat bit he came to omit; it is my guess that when he came to look at it years later, he decided that if it were going to be done at all, then it would have to be done substantially, not fleetingly; and revision on that scale would have raised all kinds of other issues, proportion, duration, and above all the coherence of the overall language, which, we must never forget, he had only finally arrived at while he was still in the process of composing the cantata. But the passage remains evidence of Mahler’s bold, experimental spirit, even at so early an age, and I should not have been happy to ignore it. Moreover, the off-stage/on-stage dichotomy he was to retain, reserving it for the finale of the cantata, where the intrusion of the off-stage music — festive noises off — on the chilling moment of revenge, of catastrophe, represents the first manifestation in Mahler of his ironic juxtaposition of two seemingly mutually exclusive genres of music to comment on the tragic dénouement of the drama, to intensify it indeed.
To follow that excerpt from Mahler’s first major work, I want to end, yes, really end, with music from Mahler’s last symphony, his Tenth, so at least I can pretend to have traversed the full chronological span of his life’s work. When talking about the first movement of the Ninth I made the point that Mahler raised the idea of the crescendo to new expressive and formal heights. In this last paragraph and example, before I attempt to sum up, I want to concentrate on just one chord which to my ears in itself represents in Mahler’s oeuvre a unique attempt to concentrate within the scope of a single vertical conflation of nine different pitches an expressivity that one might be forgiven for thinking in earlier times would have demanded a whole movement to match the explosive discharge of feeling that Mahler accomplishes in one massive vertical gesture, which — just in case we don’t get it first time round — he sustains. Dissonance abounds in Mahler; but this I think is the most radical moment of dissonance we encounter in all of his music, and it fiercely articulates what was to become, indeed was already becoming, the most revolutionary of the leading features of the music of the new century: the Emancipation of the Dissonance, to use a famous phrase of Arnold Schoenberg’s, which heralded, for some at least, the eventual abandonment of tonality. Here in the Tenth Mahler reveals himself in the throes of that process of Emancipation, which as it developed was fundamentally to change the face, the sound, of music:
MUSIC EX. NO. 12
Symphony No. 10, first movement (Cooke edition), bars 203 – 213, quick fade.
The means by which Mahler achieves the intensity of that vertical explosion are themselves of particular interest, given the preoccupations of the period in which the Tenth was written. For a start, the chord conflates nine out of the available twelve pitches of the chromatic scale; I was amused only the other day to read a respected music critic in London writing about Mahler’s ’12-note chord’ in the Tenth as evidence of his anticipatory genius. I think he can be forgiven his error, for there is no doubt that the sonority the pitches produce remind one powerfully of similar gestures in the non-tonal Expressionist period of Schoenberg’s music, before the 12-tone system was born out of that historic emancipation, a system itself born out of the need to impose order on the freedom that had been unleashed.
It has interested me too that in this same movement Mahler’s treatment of his melody, especially in counterpoint with versions of itself, irresistibly bring to mind the treatment of the row — the potentialities of the row — as spelled out in the 12-tone system. I am far from suggesting that had Mahler lived longer, he would have found himself pursuing, consciously or unconsciously, strictly Schoenbergian paths. But it remains remarkable, I think, that here and there in the Tenth one cannot but be aware of these anticipations of a future that, for a time at least — a time I believe that has now passed — seemed to offer the possibility of a new language for music.
But that was a future Mahler was not to experience. Let me return to the chord for a moment, the extreme, violent expressiveness of which brings Mahler into the style we identify as Expressionism, one of the best definitions of which was made by Webern in 1912 when defining the role of the theme in Expressionist composition. There can be no development, he claimed, no repetition: ‘Once stated, the theme expresses all it has to say’. Substitute ‘chord’ for ‘theme’ — ‘once stated, [the chord] expresses all it has to say’ — and one understands precisely why Mahler’s nine- note chord makes the overwhelming impact it does. It is Mahler exploring the expressive possibilities of radically heightened dissonance, embodying it in one overwhelming gesture, and undeniably thereby making a bit of musical history at the same time. Perhaps we might hear it one last time?
MUSIC EX. NO 13
Symphony No. 10 (Repeat of Mus. Ex. No. 12)
Music of that order of surprise and power, demands silence rather than words. On the other hand, what could be more appropriate to a Mahlerian occasion like this than a coda? So let me attempt a summing up with as few repetitions as possible.
I’m conscious that there are many avenues I’ve left unexplored. But to try to cover a lifetime’s work and omit nothing would require a talk of a lifetime’s duration. Mahler however has not only been a generous enricher of generations of successor composers in terms of techniques, forms, and the manipulation of sound, from near inaudibility to towering walls or waves of sound. He has in addition — and I know that I speak for many here today —immeasurably enriched the lives of those of us, who may not be composers or performers, but in whose lives his music has played a leading role. For me, and I suspect many others, he has been one of the great interpreters of experience, that is, the experience of being human and being alive, with all that implies in terms of triumph, tragedy, sorrow, happiness, anger, despair, desolation, reconciliation, innocence, humour, love. Is there indeed an aspect of the human condition that Mahler has not, as it were, translated for us into sound, into music? That is a criterion by which we recognize genius and esteem it. Nonetheless, I can not call to mind another composer quite so all-embracing in the sheer range of experience that Mahler so astonishingly demonstrated from the Klagende Lied to the Tenth; and I am sure that it is that comprehensiveness, along with the arsenal of techniques he invented to service it, that is responsible for the phenomenal global reception his music now enjoys.
But for that to continue, at the level of comprehension and reception that I would fervently wish to see it continue, we should, all of us, I believe, pay attention to some of the issues of performance that I have raised as a subtext throughout this talk. It is one important thing to recognize how profoundly creative and innovatory and fruitful was Mahler’s influence on the preceding century; it has proved to be a truly staggering legacy. The best way of trying to repay the consequent debt that we owe his genius is now, I suggest, to give much more thought to how his works are performed, above all to their interpretation.
I have long been convinced of the importance of the relationship between analysis and interpretation and I believe there is a growing desire among conductors, among them some with a special feel, a special talent, for Mahler, to bring off an ‘authentic’ interpretation. A much used and abused word but I use it to mean the re-igniting, or perhaps better, re-discovery, so far as is humanly possible, of the inspiration that originally gave birth to the work, and thereby established its unique character. A lofty ambition I agree, but analysis must I believe be the first crucial step in the journey towards achieving that end.
It has always seemed to me a great flaw in the training of musicians — at least, it is so in Britain — that analysis, in the sense that I ascribe to it, plays a very minor role in the syllabus. The unbridgeable gulf that supposedly separates performers from ‘academics’ is still very much an inhibiting presence. In my ideal educational world, young conductors, and above all aspiring conductors of Mahler, would have the chance to approach analysis conceived of, not as an ‘academic’ exercise, but as a means of practical enlightenment, the sole aim of which is to provide the performer with the information which, will enable him or her first to comprehend and then to realize the composer’s intentions. That of course requires extensive study of the works, perhaps in particular from angles and approaches some of which I have touched on in this talk, but also the assimilation of information gleaned from reception history, from consideration of the culture in which Mahler lived and worked, and from what knowledge we have of his practice as an interpreter of his own works. A tall order you might say, but I promise you every detail of any syllabus in which I had a hand would be oriented to the specific practicalities and problems with which in truth each individual work of Mahler’s confronts the performer, the conductor above all. Too much analysis today, to my mind, is insufficiently music-directed to be of much help to the performer. And would it be too bold of me to suggest that those who engage in the problematic business of music criticism, of assessing the validity of a given performance, might benefit from such an initiative?
You will know that I have not attempted to disguise my resistance to the false beautification of Mahler, to smoothness, the application of cosmetics, to routine, to blandness, to the reduction of the shock that is so often integral to his aesthetic. I most earnestly hope that younger generations of Mahler students, scholars, analysts and critics, indeed all who have direct contact with Mahler’s genius, will unite and campaign to find a way, perhaps through the collaboration of a sympathetically inclined institution, to build this vital bridge of communication between analysis and interpretation. It could form a brilliant future area of Mahler studies which would also attract much public attention. Unless that happens, I am fearful of a future when Mahler may be performed not one whit less than he is now, but when, in the wake of a thousand performances of this symphony or that, members of the audiences might be heard asking themselves, homeward bound, ‘I wonder what all the fuss was about?’
© Donald Mitchell, November 2000 — January 2001 (Bangkok – Horham – London)
MUSIC EXAMPLES *
- Symphony No. 3, Minuet (second movement), from Rehearsal Figure 4 (double bar), bar 70, slowish fade from 107 onwards: > on flute triplets, bars 108 – 9.
- Symphony No. 3, first movement, from Rehearsal Figure 13 (double bar) to Figure 17, on trumpet motive, bars 208 – 12.
- Symphony No. 8, Part II, Rehearsal Figure No. 199, bar 1421 to Rehearsal Figure No. 202 + 4, fade on entry of chorus, ‘Alles Vergängliche’.
- Symphony No. 9, Rondo – Burleske, from double bar, bar 180 to Fig. 34, whereupon >.
- Symphony No. 4, first movement, Rehearsal Figure 14 (double bar) bar 177 to Rehearsal Figure 16, > out by bar 211 or thereabouts.
- Das Lied von der Erde, ‘Der Abschied’, Rehearsal Figures 22 – 23, bars 158 – 165.
- Das Lied, ‘Von der Jugend’, from start to Fig. 4, bar 29 > .
- ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen . . .’, Fig. 3 – Fig. 6 > on cor anglais.
- Das Lied, ‘Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde’, from Fig. 39 (double bar), upbeat to bar 325 to Fig. 44 + 6 > on voice, out by bar 369.
- Symphony No. 1, slow movement, from start to 4 bars after Fig. 4. > on continuation of lower strings’ entry.
- Das klagende Lied, Erstfassung, orch. score, Part II, ‘Der Spielmann’, fade in from bar 219, fade out bar 230 (interventions of off-stage ensemble).
- Symphony No. 10, first movement (Cooke edition), bars 203 – 213, quick fade.
- Symphony No. 10 (repeat of Ex. 12).
* > = diminuendo or fade