Mahler: His Life, Work and World Paperback – 8 May 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
The music of Gustav Mahler has been the centerpiece of my musical listening for virtually all of my adult life, in excess of 40 years now. It's fair to say that it started for me, as it did for others of my generation, with the recordings of Bruno Walter in the late '50's and Leonard Bernstein and others throughout the '60's. It's also fair to say that Mahler's music engenders intense personalization on the part of a listener who is drawn in, to the extent that there is a never-ending desire to know more about the man, his creative processes, his quite obvious contradictions, and the bipolar way in which his contemporaries, his critics, his musicians, and audiences and critics ever since his death, have characterized the man and the music.
I have yet to read a Mahler biography or critique that is not in one way or another colored by the thoughts and opinions of the biographer, starting with the first Mahler biography I read about 30 years ago, by his widow, Alma Werfel-Mahler. Each has had a "pitch," an agenda, which has left rather an incomplete, and often judgemental, picture of this complex human being. Perhaps, had I read all of them in an attempt to weigh matters in the balance, I would have been satisfied in having reached a reasonably accurate overview.
Kurt and Herta Blaukopf, in their "Mahler: His Life, Work & World," have done something quite different and remarkable.Read more ›
But this is a biography pieced together from documents - letters, newspaper articles, private publications, etc. And the Blaukopf's have cleverly assembled these to create a hopefully objective and revealing portrait of the great composer.
The Mahler you 'see' is therefore the one your own mind puts together from those facts. (Though, because of the 'Alma Problem', any material from this source is immediately suspect/tainted, and some of it as presented here is now proven incorrect/fanciful. But this all adds to the mystery.)
What struck me most forcefully - the personification of Mahler which formed in my head - was how he was like a 'daemon'. Pan. A force of Nature. Totally absorbed in the musical art. Unable to pretend. The descriptions of his temper tantrums are often quite amusing, and I found myself cheering on this 'Steppenwulf' character, so opposed to mediocrity, stupidity and falsity.
His compassion and sense of responsibility are there too. His underlying kindness and sensitivity. But Mahler just seems a man so far ahead of his times he is almost 'out' of his time.
Reading about his compositions within this book's framework has added a more poignant element to my listening appreciation of them. I saw just how much he battled to get them appreciated in any meaningful way.
The way Mahler's death approaches in the book, and the suffering he endured at the end, really upset me. The passing of such a great spirit. His essential vulnerability, and his steadfast endurance of what life presented him with, are clear within the text.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm only partly through ,but am finding it very enligteningPublished 5 months ago by MR R F HOWARTH
I'm finding this book to be a very addictive read. It's not strictly a biography, although almost functions as one; it's a collection of correspondences, articles and interviews in... Read morePublished on 2 Mar. 2014 by John Smith
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