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Mahler's VoicesExpression and Irony in the Songs and Symphonies$
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Julian Johnson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372397

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372397.001.0001

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Calling Forth a Voice

Calling Forth a Voice

(p.41) 2 Calling Forth a Voice
Mahler's Voices

Julian Johnson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Many of Mahler's works begin with a process by which a musical voice is summoned out of an essentially distant and mysterious nature. The openings of the First and Third symphonies provide examples. The idea of calling forth a voice is signaled by a recurrent set of musical devices—horn calls, fanfares, the calls of birds and animals, the summoning of bells. Such musical symbols often mark structural thresholds through which a work finds a new direction. Just as many movements begin with calling a voice out of silence, so do many end with the voice dissolving in slow processes of abatement and gestures of farewell. But Mahler's music also demonstrates a third strategy—that of calling back a lost voice, of revoking its apparent loss. This is exemplified in the Rückert Lieder, in Das Lied von der Erde, and in the Ninth and Tenth symphonies.

Keywords:   calling forth, distance, horn calls, fanfares, birdsong, bells, threshold, revoking

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