Modernism, Mahler, Gustav, symphony, protomodernism, Classical music, Romantic music, Germany, Austria, Austro-German, tonal conservatism, defamiliarization, paraphrasing
Steeped in a cultivated European tradition and burdened by several personal tragedies, Gustav Mahler undeniably shaped the course of classical music leading into the twentieth century. Holding fast to late Romantic stylistic conventions including complex rhythmic concepts, emotional and expansive melodies, and a strict adherence to form allowed the forward-thinking composer to seamlessly introduce modern elements into his symphonies. Through Mahler’s commanding symphonic output, the composer successfully maintained strong Austro-German stylistic principles while propelling the genre forward. In these symphonic writings, modern techniques of tonal decentralization, chromaticism, quotation, and paraphrasing are met with cohesive and compelling narratives to create balanced and engaging compositions. By studying Gustav Mahler’s symphonic writings, one can both gain an understanding of his compositional brilliance and acknowledge his legacy as a pivotal protomodernist who worked to bridge the musical gap into early twentieth-century modernism.
Doub, Austin M.
"Gustav Mahler the Protomodernist,"
Musical Offerings: Vol. 11
, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/musicalofferings/vol11/iss1/2
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