Embedded memories

In the City of Music

Mahler’s Jewish heritage gave him both specific musical sources and an ear for the outsider’s voice.
“Always an intruder, never welcomed....”
VIDEO:MTT on the scherzo of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony
  • The Scherzo of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony is full of parodic depictions of the kind of “outsider” music that critics and the public deplored. It is a musical equivalent of the distorted memories that Freud discussed a few years earlier: “Our childhood memories show us our earliest years not as they were but as they appeared at the later periods when the memories were aroused.”

The Seventh Symphony is difficult to categorize. Both light and dark moods reflect Mahler’s aesthetic preoccupation with the night; in particular, the atmospheric nature of the three middle movements prompted Bruno Walter to comment that the work returned to a kind of romanticism he thought Mahler had moved beyond.

Mahler's Methods

VIDEO:SFS principal bass Scott Pringle on the scherzo of Mahler's Seventh Symphony
Thuds, Grunts and Sneezes

At one grotesque point in the Scherzo of the Seventh Symphony, the cellos and basses dispense with pitches altogether.

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