Marvin Taylor comments on my Mahler post
On Oct 13, 2011, at 4:03 PM, Marvin J Taylor wrote:
For the blog entries: What do you think about this: Are the well-intentioned attempts to see these things in Mahler’s works just a continuation of the very problematic critical debates between early Wagner–of Judenthum in der Musik–Hanslinck, and Brahms of the 19th c.? Did Bernstein get duped by falling into this line of critical thought just as Hanslick and Brahms missed the shift in Wagner’s thinking in the later works after he gave up on the ideas put forth in Oper und Drama? (Or, conversely, did Bernstein so strongly believe in the cult of the artist that Wagner promoted–and the Nietzsche so rightfully despised–that he over Romanticized everything about Mahler?)
On the other hand, as a student of lit., I’ve never much worried about what authors (of any kind) say about their work. The Intentional Fallacy rears its Fafner-like head. Instead, I tend to see these kinds of engagements as Heidegger did: that is, as dialogues with the past, even if it was only two weeks ago. It’s even more important to located the discussion in the present the further back you go in time with the referent.
Of course, Mahler often does use rather simplistic “programmatic” tricks in the music. I’m thinking, for example, of the off-stage horns of the Apocalypse at the end of Sym. no. 2. This probably enables people to see programmatic moments where they might or might not exist, such as at the end of the 9th.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the performances. Regardless of what Bernstein thought about the work, his conducting of the pieces is so stellar that I’d almost rather not know his ideas. This is esp. true given the live performances with the Koncertgebow. Those recordings are devastating to me on a purely musical level.
How’s that for opening up a can of worms?
Marvin, always great to hear from you, and about these important subjects, even better! Before getting back to Mahler, Wagner: I’m slogging through Oper u. Drama in English of course (trans.: Ellis), and didn’t know W. changed his opinion about his views in that book. In what book did he do this, and maybe you could give me the thumbnail version of the change?
I’m trying to get a best friend with a Mahler (or late-Romantic) phobia to cop to him. I got him the Bernstein 7th (NY Phil, I think). I found the Nachtmusik 1 draggy, and hence unexciting. But I always want to know which recordings of Mahler to recommend—so it means a lot that you go for the Bernstein recordings in general. It’s been said that B. “channelled” M. which I accepted as critics’ proof positive. That includes the romanticization, so what’s a boy to do!
I meant to send you my new CD on New World. It will be done, I’ll drop it off when back in the city: “Annbling” which is track 1 and the title of the CD quotes and re-orchestrates the opening theme of the M. 7th with the Flexible Orchestra of 10 trombones (instead of 1!) plus 2 clarinets, viola, double bass, piano, marimba, gamelan large gongs. So I got a kick out the 1 to 10 change, plus how I got the other instruments to start it, and the Ten to repeat it. And then explaining to friends how I could want to hear MORE of a theme than Mahler presents in a good 20 minutes of a movement—his repetition later in the recap more poignant in its minor to major shift, but what the heck, I wanted more, and got it by own devices, and now the “more” is history!
Did I get it right from the post, that you’re in Sibiu, a beautiful empire city, Ann and I were in in the early 90’s traveling through Transylvania?