- Hardcover: 366 pages
- Publisher: Amadeus Press; Edition Unstated edition (April 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0931340624
- ISBN-13: 978-0931340628
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,149,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies Hardcover – April 1, 2003
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An enlightening book. -- Classical Music Magazine
It is excellent. -- American Record Guide, Sept/Oct 1994
The translation by Vernon and Jutta Wickler is extremely readable. -- Gerald S. Fox, President, The New York Mahlerites , November 1, 1999
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Other symphonies are somewhat better, but all in all I would not strongly recommend this book to those who are looking for Tovey-style analyses of musical works, or those who are used to Grove's analyses of Beethoven symphonies. And having read Stephen E. Hefling's excellent book on Das Lied von der Erde, I'm looking forward to his upcoming two-volume study of Mahler's symphonies, to be published by Yale University Press...
Well, it surprised me. It lives up to its name: GUSTAV MAHLER: THE SYMPHONIES. What it does is give you a thorough explanation of each Mahler symphony. It tells you things like when it was written, why it was written, how it was written, and suggestions as to "what the music means," which is especially relevant to Mahler's music.
Thus, if I could have only a single book on Mahler, this would be the one I would keep, because it will be my learned, private guide or tutor, to better help me understand--and love even more--each Mahler symphony
The musical analyses are beyond reproach - so I won't go there. However,as one cannot separate the soul of Mahler from his music, I wondered why Floros backs them up with some rather inane quotes from Alma's memoirs and historical inaccuracies.
Let me simply deal with the incomplete Tenth Symphony - it's a good example. And I quote from Alma's recollections:"...he was in deepest turmoil...he recognized that he had led the life of a psycopath" - her reason for Mahler's exclamations to her on the score.
As much as I admire Alma Maher, I must,as a psychoanalyst, question her damning use of the word "psychopath", something she knew absolutely nothing about at a time when Freud was tearing his hair out in Vienna because not one of the so-called elite dared to consider a look at their troubled psyches. Mahler was about as far away from a psychopath as Franz Schubert.
The author also attributes his suffering in 1910 as a direct result of the appearance of Walter Gropius on the scene, a "long-time admirer" of Alma. Excuse me, has anyone forgotten that she and Gropius were ardent lovers? And earlier on in the book, Floros states, after quoting lines Mahler wrote about his own fears, that he knew he was on the brink of insanity.
What irks me in this type of amateur psychology is the treatment of a genius as an object to be poked at. This great, sensitive and passionate composer was a person that intellectuals such as this author can never understand...which is why "intellectuals" (and here I use the term in its deeper sense), like Claudio Abbado, don't need to talk about him, except to say the same words he uses for his favorite poet, the "insane" Holderlin:
"They couldn't understand him". Abbado almost becomes Mahler when he conducts his work...his capacity to understand the soul of the man goes way beyond any analysis and superficial psychology.
Deryck Cooke, no matter how fussy he may sound, let his love and compassion for Mahler show through everything he wrote about him. Same with Henry-Louis
de la Grange. For that reason, I really can only recommend this particular book for technical studies of the symphonies.