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Lecture 12

MUSC 102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Gustav Mahler, Song Cycle, Early Music

Course Code
MUSC 102
Peter Freeman

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Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
- A transitional composer between late Romanticism and the 20th
- Known during his lifetime mostly as a conductor
- Unlike Chopin, his music is written mostly for large orchestra with
little music for solo instruments or chamber music
- His symphonies require massive orchestral resources, including
- Would incorporate sounds like birdcalls into his music to expand
the range of sound
- Music was less chromatic than that of Wagner, but he would
often set di&erent keys in opposition to each other, and he would
sometimes end a piece in a di&erent key that the one which it
- Listening: Kindertotenlider, an orchestral song cycle from 1901-
1904 based on poems by Friedrich Ruckert. Title means “Songs
on the Death of Children,” Ruckert wrote the poems after two of
his children died of scarlet fever. They are to be performed as
one unit, not individually. Four years after he wrote this cycle, his
daughter died of scarlet fever. The song had meant to be
performed as one unit and not broken up.
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
- Russian pianist and composer associated with Russian
Symbolism. He believed that music was a religion that had the
capacity to bring people into contact with the divine
- A virtuoso pianist, his early music (not radical) was in5uenced by
Chopin. By 1907, he had developed a radical harmonic theory
that had little connection with traditional harmony
- His new harmonic theory used unusual chords derived from non-
standard intervals and unusual scales. There is often no sense of
key, stability or resolution in his late music
- At the end of his life, he succumbed to mental illness and
believed that the performance of his 8nal work, The Mysterium,
would bring about the end of the world
- Listening Sonata No. 9 The Black Mass from 1912. This is a single
movement sonata that features no traditional harmonies and is
extremely technically demanding
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