More than many other composers, Gustav Mahler's works are highly personal expressions of his inner world, a world of overwhelming alienation and loneliness - "thrice homeless," in his own words, "as a Bohemian in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, as a Jew throughout the world - everywhere an intruder, never welcomed."
Incredibly, Mahler was able to draw upon the diversity of this world that offered him no true home, as well as his often tortured inner world, to create rich and original music. It's a music whose power you will be able to appreciate fully after experiencing this eight-lecture exploration of the life and work of this titan of post-Romantic musical history, a complex, anxiety-bound visionary whose continual search for perfection and the answers to life's mysteries is profoundly reflected in his symphonies and songs.
You'll learn, through both lectures and musical excerpts, how his symphonies are vast repositories of his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual expression that made him the first exponent of Expressionism, the early 20th-century art movement that celebrates inner reality as the only reality - but explored by Mahler using the musical language of the century just ended. And you'll learn how Mahler's music is, ultimately, about himself: the lonely, isolated individual.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses
This is the fourth of Greenberg's composer series that I have listened to, the others being on Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Bach. While Mahler is my least favorite composer of the four, I thought that these lectures were the best I've heard so far. Greenberg connects Mahler's life with his music in very compact chunks that made me want to hear more. As usual, Greenberg's lecture style is charming and amusing and he moves the lectures along at a good pace.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
Good enough that my major complaint is I wish it were just longer. Professor Greenberg with his wit, knowledge, and charisma is able to draw a nice narrative arc through the life of Gustav Mahler. This course is broken into 8 lectures:
1. Introduction & Childhood
2. Mahler the Conductor
3. Early Songs and Symphony 1
4. The Wunderhorn Symphonies
5. Alma and Vienna
6. Family Life and Symphony 5
7. Symphony 7 & Das Lied von de Erde
8. Das Lied, Final Symphonies, & the End.
It all felt a bit too compressed for me. Perhaps I'm just spoiled because I've been listening also to his 30 Greatest Orchestral Works and each piece in that recording is given a whole lecture (45 minutes). I would have liked to see more time on each of his major symphonies and works AND not lose any of the actual history.
But really, that is my only major complaint. I would recommend for the serious listener to also go buy the major symphonies (from major labels and great conductors) and listen to them a couple times while listening to this course. I fell in love with Mahler's 5th & 9th before this course, but this course gave me a lot more of Mahler to love.
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