Gustav Mahler - Song Symphonist

 by Gabriel Engel


Gustav Mahler - Song Symphonist by Gabriel Engel book cover
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This biography is not an unqualified eulogy. It is the first life of Gustav Mahler written by one who cannot boast a more or less intimate personal acquaintance with him. It is, nevertheless, the first account of his life based on his collected letters, [Gustav Mahler Briefe. Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Vienna.] the recent publication of which has at last made available material proving him to have been a far more human and fascinating figure than the haloes of sentiment cast over him by German biographies will admit. Therefore, the author of this book, the first on the subject conceived and written in English, believes he is justified in having made frequent and generous quotations from these letters, and acknowledges gratefully the kindness of the publisher, Paul Zsolnay of Vienna, in permitting him to make them.

Mahler's compositions receive much the same treatment in these pages as other incidents in his life; for he lived his works, and nothing was more abhorrent to him than the guide-book explanations and programmatic rhapsodies which constitute the rather rambling method of the biographies by his countrymen.

The book is necessarily short; for it is a first word from a new point-of-view. Yet it is no mere chronicle of dates and facts intended to preface an esthetic discussion of the thousand and one details of nine colossal symphonies. It is primarily and almost entirely a narrative.

 

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