The first glance of this biography told me that what I was about to read was an incredabley detailed and devoted branch of modern, biographical literature (warning, have some prior basic knowledge of Mahler before reading!) Dr. Franklin has certainly shined in this exploration, which cerculates the success of a once dreamy, inspirational child, who became a more practical intellectual both as a composer and conducter. The relationships between Mahler's life and his music are forefronted amongst a variety of primrary and secondary sources, including people most close to the impatient, hot-tempered perfectionist, contrasted with those who simply try to interperate his ideas. The course of development is fine-tuned, also, with several illustrated sources, indicating the places where Mahler had worked and their significances. Within this course embodies the causes and effects of his ideas. Austria-Hungary was riddled with anti-semites, which affected Mahler in more ways than one. Vienna, deaths, modernists, religion, nature, nationalism, and other aspects are explored due to their effect, making this exceptional innovator the eclectic, liberal idealist he would increasingly become. These aspects are brought to us honestly and without bias, which is one of Franklins' great assests. The biography is backed up extensively by quotes, especially from the accounts of de La Grange and auxiliary versions. An introduction prepares the reader with Franklin's task throughout the book, accompanied by the usual notes and useful aids, especially for readers wishing to pursue their interests towards other texts.
The special aspect of theis book is the story being told as it was, with the relationships between Mahler and his wife, the people he worked with, friends, family, and even counter-examinations, where no bias lies. The criticisms are presented to us as well as more valuable accounts recording Mahler's abnormal personality in a way in which we can truely get to grips with this man's philosophy, stringing his ideas in juxtaposition and calculating his aims and methods of going about them. If you like song, dance, long and flowing melodies and richly expressive harmonies, then you will certainly take to the nine symphonies of Mahler. Mahler's sense of colour ranks with the great masters of orchestration, and the spirit of song permeates his art, taking inspirations from cultures of countries like China, with the poems of Li Po. You can learn much more about his sources of inspiration, the times in which he composed, and how those times affected Mahler throughout this biography. Franklin brings forthe descriptions and induces two-way notions to get the reader thinking about these sources, as well as picturing Vienna at the turn of the century and the changing, post-romantic era.
Mahler's life is remarkable, and Peter Franklin has clearly gone to trouble not to offend the person that he was and became, acknowledging the borders that shield wrongs lines of thought. For example, Mahler's wife (Alma) insists "a person should remain a 'person' and not be frozen into a legend, turned into an insufferable plaster-bust". Although we tend to think of composers as slightly odd, abnormal and completely different to ourselves, we must remember that they're still human beings. Franklin injects other points which back this up, touching on Mahler's love for nature and spirit, as well as art, love and religion. I have presented enough of the core elements of the biography, and so what is left is to declare the book as an excellent portrayal, using a variety of techniques in order to capture Mahler the Musician, and the real Mahler, whom always questioned the relationship of his life and his music. The book tends to display thoughts of irony, especially about Mahler's death, and would suit any musicain wishing to broaden thier philosophical answers to why we, and issues like those in Mahler's competitive life, exist. Indeed, any philosopher with enough scape to facilitate a focussed examination of a famous composer would find this biography useful. The book, however, does tend to be slightly uneasy about its purpose (in relation to two major preoccupations which are induced by two statements highlighted in the introduction). Franklin acknowledges this, and says there lies a knot of wide "interrelated issues concerning notions about 'art' and 'genious' and the ways in which they were mediated in the individual experience and in public creative activity in nineteenth-century Europe". That does not mean, though, that one can't interperat Franklins' notions; I found that the concepts of the string of issues formed neater towards the end by re-examining the two statements previously mentioned. That way, synoptically, one can focuss and understand the purpose of the accounts and methods in which the author put them to us, so that we may assemble the notions to acheive the resolution which every reader desires. If you are intellectual enough to percept the outcomes of this intelligent journey, simply jump on board!