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Gustav Mahler: Volume 4: A New Life Cut Short (1907-1911): New Life Cut Short (1907-1911) v. 4 (DE LA GRANGE:MAHLER 4 VOLS SERIES MS C) Hardcover – 14 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1776 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (14 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198163878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198163879
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 7.4 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 803,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Pre-eminent study...with a remarkable array of detail, much of it delightfully arcane. (Dow Jones Equities Wire)

So much of it is new, or newly re-explored, or freshly and radically re-interpreted... But this is not just a biography: it is more of a Mahler-Lexicon, almost a history of the age... [it] will be seen as one of the outstanding musical biographies of the past century. (Hugh Wood, Times Literary Supplement)

this is a revelatory achievement...it is hard to see that any further Mahler biography on this scale will ever be required...de la Grange's Mahler will go on for ever. (Bayan Northcott, BBC Music Magazine)

A gargantuan enterprise... La Grange has a sharp eye for revelatory nuances in the thousands of documents from which he has pieced together his Mahler portrait... He wields immense authority. (Arnold Whittal, Musical Times)

Everything you ever wanted to know about Mahler is in here, somewhere... No-one who loves Mahler can deny the debt the world owes to his inexhaustible French biographer, the Boswell of the eighth arrondissement. (Norman Lebrecht. Evening Standard.)

About the Author

Henry-Louis de La Grange is Honorary President and Founder of Mediatheque Musicale Mahler, Paris.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By kramskoi on 28 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
1758 pages, covering three and a half years! This monster tome, three inches thick and five pounds in weight, tells you everything you could possibly want to know (and a lot you probably don't need to) about the final months of Mahler's life.

Does the subject deserve such in-depth treatment? Of course he does - and la Grange is the man to do it. This will be THE essential work of reference for every Mahler scholar in the future.

Whether it's the ideal work for the average music lover (whoever that may be...). I doubt; there are far shorter and more readable treatments elsewhere. Also the sections of musical analysis manage to be both over-elaborate and simplistic at the same time. La Grange is a compiler and a quantifier, not an interpreter, so his analyses are not really analyses at all, but lists of things that happen. So go elsewhere to find out how the music works (for all his near-unreadability at times, Adorno is peerless in getting under the skin of this profound and complex music).

Every tiny documentary scrap of Mahler's life is gathered into La Grange's study, from the fullest possible documentary account of the Munich premiere of the 8th Symphony in 1910, to details of Mahler's diet (he seemed to live mainly on butter - and died of heart disease). And sometimes the sheer wealth of information is overwhelming: from the moment Mahler decides to consult Sigmund Freud (p.883) it takes ten pages and forty-six footnotes to get to the meeting itself. In between, there is a biography of Freud, a history of the Dutch town of Leiden where they met and a full account of the 'interminable train journey' Mahler undertook to get there (we eventually know how he must have felt).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a review of the 1776-page 2008 edition of a work that was originally published in 1973. It is the fourth and last volume in the series, covering the last years of Mahler's life.

In his introduction, de la Grange writes that it has been "enriched with a vast amount of new material ... Dealing with it all has consumed much more time than was required for the previous volumes." Some of this new material includes the crucial letters between Alma and her lover, Walter Gropius, covering Mahler's final months. (De la Grange interviewed Gropius in the 1950s and knew Alma personally.) He remarks, "Surprising as it may seem, Mahler is in fact the main subject of Alma's messages, and they present a picture of her relationship with him that is startlingly different from the one to be found in previously known sources."

The author is consistently critical of Alma's `evidence', criticising her "treating the facts with an offhandedness that is disconcerting, particularly when documents exist (and she knew they existed) which contradict her." Moreover, "Alma has shown herself to have been a less than reliable witness: her memory was more than once at fault, her judgement was frequently obscured by her emotions, and when she wrote about events she rarely resisted the temptation to over-dramatize them." Yet de la Grange himself wilfully accepts some evidence by her when it suits his purpose or when it flatters Mahler.

Indeed, the author's own objectivity is often called into question. He has lived and breathed Mahler for decades, and his four-volume set of his life can fairly be claimed to be definitive in terms of the details of events in the composer's life; it is unlikely that - in the round - Mahler's life will ever be more fully treated.
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Amazon.com: 12 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A Revisionist Take On Mahler's Final Years 22 Mar. 2008
By colotes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This final installment of Henry-Louis de La Grange's massive four volume biography advances the idea that Mahler was not a death-driven broken man in his final years; rather he was about to embark on a "new life" that was cut short by an unexpected illness. Thus the unfinished 10th Symphony should be heard as a new beginning whose final bars are a paean to love, not a farewell.
I will not pretend that I've read the entire book so soon after publication (it is actually 1758 pages! not the 1072 that Amazon lists). I will focus on the chapter that describes Alma Mahler's "betrayal": by doing so I will hopefully give an idea of rest of the book. The style of writing and presentation is identical to previous volumes. De La Grange assembles what seems to be every fact he could discover about Mahler and weaves them into a chronological narrative. The chapter covers July and August 1910 and is 118 small print pages long, including 411 footnotes of even smaller print. De La Grange quotes extensively from recently unearthed letters between Alma Mahler and the budding architect Walter Gropius (the lover with whom she betrayed Mahler) to further show how willfully deceiving Alma's published memoirs were about the affair. These give insight into the depth of Mahler's despair when he discovered what had happened through a letter that Gropius, in writing to Alma, mistakenly addressed to Mahler himself. De La Grange attempts to give an in-depth analysis of Alma's personality, quoting from unpublished diaries and letters. He also spends 40 pages on Mahler's interview with Sigmund Freud, quoting extensively from all the available sources in which Freud discussed the meeting, as well as present-day psychologists and analysts who have commented on it. Though the psychologist sources he quotes apparently disagree, this does not prevent de La Grange from advocating his belief that Mahler emerged from this crisis a stronger, more life-affirming artist - not as many would like to believe, a broken man.
Following de La Grange's narrative, filled as it is with what one might describe as excruciating detail and exhaustive psychological analysis, can be daunting, but he does manage to keep the narrative flowing. The recitation of fact after detailed fact, as in the other volumes, can be numbing, but one is drawn completely into Mahler's world during the process. This kind of total immersion may not be what the average reader wants, but it is exactly suited to a Mahler freak. And a Mahler freak is whom this book is for.
The bulk of the book (1277 pages) is devoted to the narrative of Mahler's life during these final years. There are 440 pages of appendices and a 35 page index. The appendices include 236 pages of detailed analysis of Das Lied von der Erde and the 9th and 10th Symphonies, an updated catalogue of works, a list of all of all the performances of non-operatic repertoire conducted by Mahler (one wonders why the operas weren't included), essays on the Mahler piano rolls, the order of movements in the 6th symphony, Mahler myths, and the recipe for Mahler's favorite dessert (to list just a few).
While this is the long awaited volume IV of the biography, de La Grange assures us in his introduction that the revision to volume I (published in 1973 and out-of-print) is soon forthcoming: "readers of this biography may be confident that they will not have to wait as long for the new Volume I as they have had to for Volume IV."
My only negative comment regarding this long anticipated volume is the price - nearly 10 times more than what I paid in 1973 for the first volume.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
For Mahler fans, it's like dying and going to Heaven 10 Feb. 2009
By Mr John Haueisen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mahler devotees (and I'm certainly one of them)--people who have come to see Mahler as more than a great composer and conductor, have an almost religious reverence for all things related to Gustav Mahler. For many of us, his music contains a view of mankind, life and the universe that goes beyond what science and art can tell us.

Although technically, he spoke German, Mahlerians know that he "spoke music." He used his music to go beyond what words say, and carry listeners to a higher level of feeling for, and understanding of, life.
This can be undertaken just by listening to his music. Yet many of us believe that appreciation for it can be enhanced by knowing more about Mahler the man, the people around him, and his world.

This is where Henry-Louis de la Grange enters the picture. Imagine yourself as one of those who wants to know more and more about Mahler and his world. You can read any of the various books on Mahler; some by his wife, some by scholars. Often, these books merely raise more questions. Where do you go for the facts and well-thought-out opinions and theories?

From an early age, Henry-Louis was captivated by Mahler's music. Most fortunately for Mahler devotees, he has enjoyed the extremely rare and felicitous conjunction of gifted scholarly diligence and financial independence that gave him the time and opportunity to pursue his deep interest in Mahler.

As you may have read in the descriptions of this volume, it concerns the last four years of Mahler's life, and it corrects the popular and mistaken notion that a neurotic Mahler died a broken-hearted man in despair over the setbacks he had faced. The 1758 pages in this volume thoroughly support La Grange's contention that Mahler's death was "a new life cut short." The book is not only a treasure trove of facts and commentaries from numerous sources that elucidate Mahler's life; it is also a model for academic scholarship. La Grange does not just make statements of opinion; he buttresses them with direct quotes from numerous sources that illustrate his conclusions. For example, he does not just state that a particular concert was a success. He includes reviews from critics and musically-knowledgeable persons who attended the particular concert. He even includes remarks that do not fit his template, and further explains why their authors may have come to such conclusions. This is scholarship in its finest hour.

Imagine for a moment, your most interesting person or event in the history of the world. Imagine that you have read every book you could find on the subject, investigated every possible source--yet you still crave more. Just about your only remaining hope would be to wait for the afterlife, and to talk to God with all your remaining questions. Well, reading Henry-Louis de la Grange's books is almost like talking to God. He has assembled and organized so much information, and has formed such cogently valid conclusions that you have access to virtually all that is known about Gustav Mahler and his world.

This is an indispensable reference work on Mahler, and a boon to all those with a thirst for knowledge.
He even includes, in Appendix 31, three recipes for Mahler's favorite, and very delicious dessert: Marillenknoedel (apricot dumplings). Thank you, Henry-Louis for your life's work. It has been a life well-spent, and we are so grateful to you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An amazing denouement of an amazing series 23 Jan. 2009
By Irving Wiesen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read a total of about two and a half volumes so far of the towering four (one does need to leave time for reading other things), this last volume is a supreme summation of so much of what has gone before. The other reviewers have pretty well summarized their contents, so I'll just add the following: I was surprised--as have been others to whom I've related this--that Mahler requested that his heart be pierced by a sharp object after his death, and that this was dutifully carried out on his body by a local physician the morning after his death. No reason was ever given by Mahler for this instruction, and De La Grange speculates that it was the result of the fear, given wide currency at the time, of being buried while still alive, and so the piercing was to ensure he was truly dead. Perhaps. Perhaps it was that Mahler sought finally to quell the pain in his heart--of his wife's betrayal, indeed of the pain of the world which he felt so acutely, and with which he infused so much of his music. In any event, even this enigmatic, post-mortem, extraordinarily potent act is, like his music, evocative of so much about the human condition. Reading La Grange is a combination of fascination and bemusement: fascination because it is virtually Mahler day-by-day; a total immersion in the minutiae Mahler's daily life both from his own words, the words of others, and extensive excerpts from the many different and ideologically-varied newspapers that covered his nightly concerts. Bemusement, because De La Grange manages to sustain the "just the facts, ma'am" style over so long a multi-thousand page span--no interpretation, no analysis, no conclusions, no overarching theories, patchy historical and artistic context, nothing but the dry facts. The book even ends abruptly, with the end of the great man's life, with a description--extremely moving to be sure--of Mahler's funeral. Notably, however, De La Grange provides extremely interesting and informative appendices which discuss Mahler's works including in later historical context, and containing much of the analysis and interpretation which had been so missed in the recounting of the history. So in the end this can be recommended for Mahler enthusiasts only, but it is a startling achievement, and for enthusiasts, gives real and cherishable insight into the man, the music and his time. Hopefully I'll have finished it all by the time the re-written volume I comes out so that I can start all over!
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
For Dedicated Mahlerites Only 9 July 2008
By Martin B. Haub - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was very glad to see this final volume finally come out. It is extremely detailed, well researched, and interesting. You learn a lot about New York in this period and many of the people who Mahler was involved with one way or the other: JP Morgan, Oscar Hammerstein, Walter Damrosch, Toscanini...and many, many more. The huge amount of research in presenting critical opinions of the time of his symphonies is fascinating, as is the status of orchestral concerts -- which weren't any better attended than those today! So any Mahler fan will enjoy this, but for most readers there are shorter one-volume biographies that should do nicely.

I only give this four stars because of the production. I wish I had kept track, but it's amazing how many typos there are in it. The author also needs a map of the US, since he mentions on a tour with the NY Philharmonic that from Pittsburgh they continue going east to Cleveland! And he frequently uses the word "alto" when he was refering to the viola. Worst of all was a paragraph that suddenly stops midsentence with blank white at the bottom of the page. The paragraph is repeated in its entirety on the next page. Then, there are many time when you have a sense of deja-vu: sometime information, even quotes, appear then reappear many pages later. I realize this is a vast, even monumental, achievement that will likely never be equalled, and that the staggering amount of information and length is a to praised, but still, I would expect the Oxford Press would do a better job of editing and proofreading. Maybe they figure that the 25 of us in the world who will actually read the book are worth worrying about.

One last complaint: I find the old, original Doubleday vol. 1 much easier to read. Why? It's on off-white paper. I don't know what color it is, but it's much easier on the eyes. The Oxford printing is severe black ink on extremely white paper and tires the eyes faster. On the other hand, I do like the Oxford presentation of footnotes being on the bottom of the pages rather than at the end, like Doubleday.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
BRILLIANT AND A CELEBRATION FOR ALL MAHLER LOVERS 9 Aug. 2008
By Paul Gelman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
FINALLY THE LAST VOLUME OF THE FOUR-PART PROJECT HAS APPEARED.THIS VOLUME DEALS MAINLY WITH THE COMPOSER'S LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES.
THIS GIGANTIC TOME HAS 1758 PAGES; 1277 OF THEM CONTAIN THE TEXT AND THE OTHERS ARE A COLLECTION OF 33 VARIOUS APPENDICES.( IN ONE OF THEM- THE LAST ONE YOU CAN ALSO GET A RECIPE ABOUT MAHLER'S FAVOURITE DESSERT: APRICOTE DUMPLINGS)
IT IS A SUPERB DELIGHT TO READ IT AND RE-READ IT AND LA GRANGE HAS DONE A SUPERB JOB IN RESEARCHING AND DISPELLING A NUMBER OF OLD MYTHS REGARDING THE COMPOSER.IF WE THOUGHT THAT MAHLER WAS A DICTATOR WHO WAS EXTREMELY HARSH ON HIS PLAYERS WHEREVER THEY WERE,WE WERE WRONG.MAHLER WANTED AND DEMANDED PERFECTION AND THIS FACT EXPLAINED PART OF THE ALMOST MISTAKEN NOTION ABOUT HIS SO-CALLED TYRANNY.
IN THIS VOLUME WE HAVE DESCRIPTIONS ABOUT THE MANY TRIPS MAHLER AND HIS TREACHEOUS WIFE,ALMA,TOOK MAINLY TO NEW YORK. WE GET A BROAD-CANVASSED DEPICTION AND MANY FACTS- SOME OF THEM UNKNOWN TO THE AVERAGE READER- ABOUT NEW YORK AND THE NEW YORK ARISTOCRACY AS WELL AS THE BENEFACTORS WHO DONATED HUGE SUMS OF MONEY SO THAT MAHLER BE KNOWN AND RECOGNIZED IN THE USA.IN FACT, THIS BOOK IS A MAHLER ENCYCLOPEDIA AND THE READER CAN FIND HERE ALMOST ANYTHING HE WANTS ABOUT MAHLER AND THE PERTINENT HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.
WHOLE CHAPTERS ARE DEVOTED TO SOME CRITICS-SOME HAD A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TO MAHLER AND A MINORTIY POURED OUT THEIR VENOM ON HIM.MAHLER LIKED AND LOVED AMERICA AND HAD A TREMENDOUS RESPECT FOR THE NEW WORLD.HIS BEST FRIEND THERE WAS FERRUCIO BUSONI AND THEY REMAINED FRIENDS UNTIL MAHLER'S LAST BREATH.
THIS WAS ALSO THE PERIOD WHEN MAHLER COMPOSED HIS MAMMOTH EIGHT SYMPHONY AND LA GRANGE SUPPLIES US WITH MANY UNKNOWN DETAILS AND NEW INFO ABOUT THE WAY MAHLER COMPOSED AND REHEARSED HIS CREATION.WE SEE HOW SENSITIVE MAHLER WAS AND THE WAY HE TOOK CARE OF HIS FRIENDS IN NEED, AND THE MOST OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE IS THE HELP HE EXTENDED TO HIS NEEDY AND MUCH MUSICALLY -OSTRACIZED FRIEND ARNOLD SCHOENBERG.
CHAPTER EIGHT IS ABOUT ALMA'S ILLICIT RELATIONSHIP WITH WALTER GROPIUS, THE ARCHITECT. HERE LA GRANGE TELLS US THAT HE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF EXAMINING A BULK OF HOUSANDS OF LETTERS SENT BY ALMA TO GROPIUS AND VICE VERSA. EVERYTHING WAS DONE BY MEANS OF POST RESTANTE WITH ALMA MOTHER'S COLLUSION.THUS LA GRANGE MANAGES TO ESCHEW ALMA'S DISTORTED TALES ABOUT THE WHOLE AFFAIR.MAHLER'S AGONY ABOUT HIS WIFE'S AFFAIR WAS EXPRESSED IN ONE OF HIS INSCRIPTIONS WHILE IN THE MIDDLE OF COMPOSING THE UNFINISHED TENTH SYMPHONY.HIS TRIP TO HOLLAND WHERE THE MASTER MET FREUD AND WAS ANALYZED BY HIM IS FURTHER AND FRESHLY EXAMINED WITH THE HELP OF MARIA BONAPARTE'S DIARY.
THE FINAL PART IS ABOUT MAHLER'S ILLNESS , THE TRIP BACK TO EUROPE -VIA FRANCE -AND THE AGONIES HE SUFFERED IN THE VIENNA SANATORIUM UNTIL HE DIED. HE WANTED A MOST SIMPLE BURIAL AND EXPRESSED HIS WISH TO NEIGHBOUR HIS DEAD DAUGHTER IN GRINZING.HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WERE WAITING IN THE POURING RAIN TO EXTEND THEIR LAST RESPECT FOR THE MUSICAL COLOSSUS. A BIRD SANG A DISJOINTED SPRINGTIME MELODY AND ONE OF HIS FRIENDS WAS REMINDED OF THE FINAL MOVEMENT OF MAHLER'S SECOND SYMPHONY.
MAHLER'S FUNERAL TOOK PLACE ON MAY, 22, 1911. HIS OWN PREDICTION THAT HIS TIME WOULD COME WAS PROVEN TO BE RIGHT.
WHEN YOU LOOK AROUND TODAY AND SEE THOUSANDS OF ARTICLES BEING WRITTEN ABOUT HIM,HUNDREDS OF RECORDINGS AND PERFORMANCES ALL AROUND THE WORLD,THESES AND PH.D'S, DISCUSSIONS ON THE INTERNET AND VARIOUS MAHLER MEMORABILIA AND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MAHLERITES EVERYWHERE- ONLY THEN CAN YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THIS TOWERING GENIUS IS APPRECIATED AND WILL DEFINITELY BE IN THE FUTURE.THE 2011 CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS ARE AWAITING AS WELL.
LA GRANGE HAS DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB AND IN SPITE OF THE LENGTH OF HIS BOOK- I CAN ONLY SAY ONE WORD ABOUT IT:BRILLIANT!
LET US ALL HOPE THIS HIS PROMISE TO REVISE HIS FIRST VOLUME WILL NOT TAKE SO MANY YEARS IT TOOK TO WRITE THE FINAL ONE.
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