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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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Performing Authenticity

Performing Authenticity

Chapter:
(p.263) 8 Performing Authenticity
Source:
Mahler's Voices
Author(s):

Julian Johnson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372397.003.0008

Contemporary criticism often likened Mahler's music to the performance of an actor. The final chapter draws out the tension between expression and irony, arguing that Mahler's music is characterized by a high degree of self‐consciousness about its own aesthetic statements. The music proposes an authentic expression but, at the same time, is self‐critical of music's ability to achieve this. To test Mahler's ambivalent play between expression and irony, this chapter examines the idea of an “Adagio voice,” as found in the Finale of the Ninth Symphony. This is discussed in terms of the aesthetic fiction, the “as if” of all art, but here raised to the level of historical self‐consciousness. Mahler's music thus marks a historical moment that binds together romantic irony, modernist expression, and postmodern deconstruction.

Keywords:   reception, performance, authenticity, self‐critique, Adagio‐Voice, as if, expression, irony

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