Jump to content

Mahler's 9th

Idyllic Shepherd

Recommended Posts

I was curious on how exactly you listen to Mahler, preferably his ninth symphony. I can see how the development in his first movement and where the motivic material goes and sways and always somehow miraculously stays together, though this approach seems a bit too "modern" in the sense of the way that I listen to composers like Carlos Sanchez-Guiterezz, Samuel Adler, George Perle, Elliot Carter... I find it a bit agitating that I'm listening to a late-romantic composer but using the same ears that I would to some more current composers. I'd rather listen to Mahler with my Brahms/Dvorak/Richard Strauss ears instead, but I guess Mahler might just be too contemporary...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Yeep! I'm afraid this post will likely be a case of too little too late, but I'll try. I like the distinction you made between the analytical approach and the romantic, emotional approach to listening. I too used to have trouble listening to Mahler 9 without resorting to dry analysis, but now find listening to it an amazingly powerful emotional experience. I'll tell you how I wound up with this, and hopefully that's some help...

First of all, I got my hands on the score, and read all of Mahler's performance indications throughout the score; in this Symphony Mahler goes beyond the standard Allegro/Largo fare and writes markings like "With Rage" and "Like a funeral march", and a bunch more I can't remember at the moment. These poetic descriptions gave me something to hang on to, so to speak, and began to unlock the raw emotional power of the movement.

Also try listening to the dramatic shape; first figure out what moments are climaxes (the obvious one is the moment of death- a huge return of the faltering heartbeat motif that opens the movement (dum-dum--DUM) over a seething tritone in low brass).

Once you've found the climaxes, try to see how Mahler moves toward and away from them. You'll soon notice that this movement to and from climaxes is not simply up and down motion on the dissonance and decibel graphs. Rather, the growth and falling of the music is three dimensional, if you will. Does the music recoil in terror after this cataclysm? Are these notes _sure_ they want to build to the next peak, or would they rather fade away into nothingness? Are the climaxes themselves screams or celebratory, or maybe both at once?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd reccomend finding moments you _can_ identify with and working outwards from those. I hope this is some help. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have only started listening to Mahler's 9th. I love his 1st, 2nd & 3rd. And 6th. And 5th. 7th as well.

Although, I have read somewhat a lot about the 9th and how it's kinda symbolizing letting go and stuff. Very interesting analysis. Mahler was a genius.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...