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Mahler: a Life

By Jonathan Carr
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Book Details
  • Author: Jonathan Carr
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Brand: Overlook TP
  • Published: 2011-05-31
  • Edition: 1
Although Gustav Mahler has become one of most popular of composers, he remains widely misunderstood both as man and musician. In Mahler, Jonathan Carr analyzes and debunks many of the myths surrounding the composer, offering a complete re-examination of his life and work. Setting the stage with a look into Mahler's early career as an ambitious (and often ruthless) conductor, Carr focuses his eye on the composer's last decade -- his tempestuous marriage to the complicated but alluring Alma Schindler, his work as a "summer composer" in isolated huts in the country, his revolutionary achievements as director of the Vienna opera, his final years in America, and the circumstances around his death in 1911.

In her memoirs Alma drew Mahler as a sickly, cerebral recluse. Arnold Schoenberg called him a "saint." Leonard Bernstein, largely responsible for the Mahler "boom" in the Sixties, found a "secret shame" at the heart of Mahler's music, "the shame of being a Jew and the shame of being ashamed." But he was also skilled at behind-the-scenes politicking in Vienna and a devotee of Oriental mysticism, both of which are crucial for a full understanding of Mahler. Using letters, diaries, and other material hitherto unavailable in English, Carr brilliantly challenges some of the most widely held assumptions about Mahler.

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