Classical Music: Gustav Mahler Essay examples

Gustav Mahler is now a world-renowned composer of classical music. He wasn’t always looked upon as highly during his working career as he is now posthumously. From Austria and of Jewish decent, Mahler began his musical career like many composers do, with the piano. He soon took to a formal musical education and grew to compose twelve full symphonies among his various other works. Mahler’s music fell into a part of musical history called the Romantic Period. Ranging from 1820 to 1900, the later portion of this period captured his works. This great composer gained much of his musical influence from the works of Richard Wagner and a small amount of influence in his earlier work also came from the Jewish culture. Near the end of his life Mahler was able to achieve the coveted position of Director of the New York Philharmonic Symphony. This spoke not only to his ability as a conductor but also to his ability as a composer. Musicologist Constantin Floros writes, “The best conductors are themselves composers.” The different musical roles Mahler filled serve to reinforce each other as a fantastic composer makes for a fantastic conductor. Mahler’s fame sat mostly in the musical community itself during his life and dropped slightly after his death. It wasn’t until half a century late when Leonard Bernstein revived Mahler’s works that it gained the status it holds today with composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.The fifth symphony Mahler wrote falls into the middle period of the composer’s professional life. These pieces were purely orchestral compared to his early work, which incorporated vocal aspects. Debuted in 1901, his fifth symphony was not well received by the public and labeled ahead of its time. This was at …

…re intensity for a final crescendo, which brings an ultimate sense of grandeur and finality to the piece. The art form that is the symphony is so amazing in the stories and feelings that are conveyed to the listener all without words or pictures, but by organized sounds alone. Gustav Mahler died the same year the Titanic sunk, 1911, of complication from endocarditis. A lasting thought he left with the musical world is quite poetic and very appropriate to many famous composers in history, “Must we always die before the public allows us to live?” (Floros).

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Works Cited

Floros, Constantin. Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies. Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Hartel, 1993. Print.

Kamien, Roger. Music An Appreciation. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

Mahler, Gustav. Symphony No. 5 (1901). Perf. Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Cond. Claudio Abbado. 2004. Video.


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