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A Kingdom Not of This WorldWagner, the Arts, and Utopian Visions in Fin-de-Siecle Vienna$
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Kevin C. Karnes

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199957927

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199957927.001.0001

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Gustav Mahler and the Promise of Return

Gustav Mahler and the Promise of Return

(p.163) 6 Gustav Mahler and the Promise of Return
A Kingdom Not of This World

Kevin C. Karnes

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines musical, poetic, and philosophical affinities between Arnold Schoenberg's Gurrelieder and Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, and suggests that their relatedness points to the composer's shared investment in a post-Wagnerian, quasi-Nietzschean vision of redemption. As Schoenberg had done with Jacobsen's poetry, so Mahler transformed Hans Bethge's dark verse so as to assure that its pessimistic meditations on human suffering would evaporate into an ecstatic hymn to the perennial rebirth of the natural world. Reflecting these kindred interpretive moves, the musical language of Das Lied von der Erde recalls, in tonal design and distinctive detail, the paired musical vocabularies that Schoenberg devised for hisreflections on Jacobsen. Memorialized by Alban Berg in his Violin Concerto of 1935, the kindred vision of redemption inscribed by Mahler and Schoenberg was projected beyond the fin-de-siècle and transformed into nostalgic longing for Vienna's utopian past.

Keywords:   Berg, Bethge, Gurrelieder, Jacobsen, Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler, Nietzsche, nostalgia, redemption, Schoenberg

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