Rustic Sentimentality

Mahler's Origins: A "Sonic Goulash"

The many folk traditions Mahler encountered gave him a rich source of songs, dances, and legends.
“The Bohemian music of my childhood home has found its way into many of my compositions.”
VIDEO:SFS playing the trio from the Scherzo of Mahler’s First Symphony
  • In the Scherzo (the second movement) of Mahler’s First Symphony, the rustic dance gives way to a much more sentimental style in the trio. The contrast between the two reminds us of Mahler's own experience of an intimate family life above a noisy tavern.

  • “Everyone avoided me.”

    Mahler was bothered by negative public reaction to his first symphony and the “inappropriate”use of folk and popular devices, especially the folksong and dance music in the third movement): “I naively imagined that it was childishly simple, that it would please immediately and that I was going to be able to live comfortably on the royalties it would earn… Afterwards everyone avoided me; no one dared to talk to me about my work.”