If you know anything about Theodor Adorno, you might well be familiar with the entire edifice of western cultural and philosophic thought; Kant,Hegel,Kierkegaard,and Marx,the history of art,literature,painting and music. Less film,a realm Adorno never got to know. Here in Mahler,we have a concise profile of this one time neglected composer, long misunderstood,even today. I recall a rehearsal with Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic who couldn't quite understand Bernstein's raving from the heart,for clarity yet passion. Adorno knew Mahler's art much better than Mahler ever did for we learn this from Adorno, that Mahler simply abandoned himself to his own intuition to resolve his creative problems. Each chapter in this masterwork in miniature is self-sustaining. In the chapter "Tone" Adorno reveals the basic music materials of Mahler his orchestral pallete. The high positioned violins,in uncomfortable registers where they loose their souls to a menanced, shrill, thin timbre. The string section for Mahler is creatively undisciplined to begin with, each playing differing roles, each contributing its own independence, as in the opening of Mahler's "Ninth" Symphony, the melody tossed between the violins, tremoli in the violas, and the contrbass above or equal in register to all with harmonics. Mahler's progressiveness was in pure content,he was not one to pursue "tangible innovations" but secured his tenuous position with the diatonic mode,familiar scales and harmonic surfaces. A chiaroscuro of means (schatten) the shadows he creates with reliefs of foreground and background. Tonality is not so much renewed as an unheard voice enters the stage, Mahler's voice cracks,is overstrethched, the various woodwind passages like in the "Scherzo" of his "Seventh" Symphony. The forced tone is itself an expressive innovation of his own making a premonition of the darker legubrious brooding up the road in the orchestral works of Arnold Schoenberg. In fact we find ev! ery bit of these darker pages in Mahler before the horrors which await the citizens of Eastern Europe,even up to Bosnia. Adorno's focus is always how Mahler creates meaning within familiar confines,the roads that lead to simple harmonies. He disrupts the stability of rhythm,of gesture that once was, the familiar in Mahler's orchestral context becomes something quite different, no longer can the romantic symphony depend on redemption. Bruckner could depend on this, for he already found his spirituality, whereas Mahler spent his life in pursuit of it . Adorno in the chapter "Novel" reveals the non-progressive side of Mahler.He needed to depend on some stability so his musical characters come and go untarnished at times, the lowlife natural trombone,to the intimate/elegant solo violin, and the cracking horn moments in Mahler. This is where we find "Stufenreichtum" the richness of texture,the musical thread running from the full orchestral (tutti) everyone's voice heard, to the single voice the solos. This is Mahler's context from the distance "in sehr weiter entfernung" to the immediate. It is this expressive immediacy, he learned from Beethoven that gives way to developed chaos as his life wears away. The overblown vacuous "Eighth Symphony" resolved nothing for his real creativity, and the "Ninth" the ideas begin toward the irrational,Mahler is serious even in the "Rondo-Burleske" from the "Ninth",the almost improvised gesture reminded me of Charles Ives,who was writing just about the same time. Adorno's chapter "Variant-Form" we learn Mahler's technique progressed away from what an academic would consider "good" Mahler needn't be as glib as Richard Strauss,nor as consummate as Wagner. He learned music in another way and pointed toward a profound goal. A goal in which his music simply breaks its own voice "Durchbruch" as Adorno mentions where there was no comfort in traditional moments. Adorno opens thi! s expressive vault of Mahler and we can see Mahler again. As recently as Pierre Boulez in his ongoing recordings with The Chicago Symphony we find a Mahler quite as a turning point to the 20th century. Well Boulez brings Mahler into our century whether we want him there or not. Boulez brings a sublime ugliness at times to Mahler's simplicity, the functional predictable movements of harmony creates a kind of timbral dirt. Mahler wanted this. No we are not done with his marvelous "Symphonies" we can contemplate them for some time.