In one of Mahler’s settings of poetry by Friedrich Rückert, “I am lost to the world” (Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen) the voice gently disappears into the instruments, perfectly expressing the text’s expression of the end of isolation through art:
I am dead to the world’s tumult
and I rest in a quiet place!
I live alone in my heaven,
in my love, in my song.
In the City of Music
Mahler called Anton Bruckner his “forerunner”. In the use of the Ländler in his colossal slow movements, and even in his transitions between keys, the elder Austrian composer foreshadowed several of the musical and aesthetic preoccupations of the younger one. Here are extracts from the slow movements of the Sixth Symphonies of both composers.
Mahler often lets us in on the creation of a lyrical idea by giving us the first two notes of a phrase, then three, and eventually the whole musical thought. In this piano introduction to a song on a poem by Fredrich Rückert, "I am Lost to the World" (Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen), this sequence evokes the quality of introspective thought.
Mahler turned to the poetry of Friedrich Rückert (1788 - 1866) for two important song collections: Songs on the Deaths of Children (Kindertotenlieder)and the five settings collectively titled simply Rückert Songs (Rückert-Lieder). Mahler felt a deep aesthetic kinship with the poet's imaginative and imagistic vocabulary, moreover, both artists were attracted to Oriental sources. Mahler himself had written a student essay on the influence of the Orient on German literature and later turned to Chinese poetry for his last great song-symphony The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde).