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Rethinking Mahler$
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Jeremy Barham

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199316090

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199316090.001.0001

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The Particularity of the Moment

The Particularity of the Moment

Chapter:
(p.219) 12 The Particularity of the Moment
Source:
Rethinking Mahler
Author(s):

Julian Johnson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199316090.003.0012

Mahler’s symphonies are marked by sudden intrusions, moments of self-awareness that imply reflection upon the symphonic discourse which they interrupt. This is not only a matter of musical form and material process, but also a matter of temporality—of the subjective construction and experience of time. The focus of this essay is Mahler’s inheritance of the defining and constitutive tension of Beethoven’s music—between the claims of the particular and the logic of the whole—and the manner in which his symphonic music stages a kind of terminal exacerbation of this tension within the Austro-German symphony. In this, Mahler’s music continues to differentiate itself from that of Schoenberg for which it has so often been heard as a precursor. Among the Schoenberg circle perhaps only Berg fully grasped this aspect of Mahler’s music, a deep-seated similarity which accounts for the fact that neither composer sits easily in the prevalent taxonomies of modernism.

Keywords:   Mahler, particularity, Beethoven, First Symphony, Fourth Symphony, Ninth Symphony, Das Lied von der Erde, modernity, temporality

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