Let me introduce you to... Mahler

When Gustav Mahler was a small child, after witnessing a particularly difficult fight between his domineering father and his frail mother, he stepped out of the house and was surprised to see a parade passing by.  That strange marriage of dissonant conflict and the bright and beautiful is said to be one of the hallmarks of Mahler's music.  He found beauty in struggle, he made the painful beautiful, and his beautiful moments were more beautiful for the dissonance that came before.  Lovely to think about, no?  Here are a few examples:

If you have time, listen to this glorious symphony, his 2nd and often referred to as the "Resurrection symphony".  There are plenty of things to look for in this epic musical journey that represents life, death and rebirth with lots of exciting twists and turns along the way.

But I will post the Adagietto from his 5th symphony here, you might recognize it, it has been used in several movies.  He wrote it as a love song for his wife, Alma (also a very talented composer).  Listen as the higher strings seem to hang in the air, as the harp and the rest of the orchestra present wave after wave of undulating harmonies.

For those of you busy bees out there, here is another something shorter.  The Songs of a Wayfarer were written after the painful end of his relationship with a soprano.  They are agile and light and though the words are full of difficult emotions, they are truly a pleasure to listen to.


But my personal favorite are the tragic Kindertotenlieder (Songs for dead children - delightful title).  They are heartbreakingly beautiful.  When I was 18 I remember for being angry with Hemmingway for the way he ended "The Old man and the sea".  I don't think I would have appreciated the Kindertotenlieder then.  But they are are a profound expression of grief, of the beauty of existence and the existence of hope even in the most dark of subjects.  Do look up the translation of the German texts, they are so rich in symbolism.

May your Thursday be beautiful, even if it is difficult.


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