Gustav Mahler. Visionary and Despot: Portrait of A by Constantin Floros

By Constantin Floros

With the phrases «visionary» and «despot», the writer seeks to circumscribe the multilayered character of Gustav Mahler. beginning up a terra incognita, he attracts a entire map of some of the facets of Mahler’s internal biography: his unshakable trust within the «sacredness of musical paintings» and strongly constructed experience of challenge, his double existence as conductor and composer, his inexorability and refusal to compromise vis-à-vis himself and others, his soreness with the realm during which he lived, the advanced elements of his psyche and his huge, immense power capability. the result's the disclosure of recent and unforeseen connections among Mahler’s character and his œuvre

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Extra resources for Gustav Mahler. Visionary and Despot: Portrait of A Personality. Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Example text

Luckily, two compositions survived, which reveal an exceptional originality and an astonishingly high standard: the opening movement of a piano quartet in A minor and Das klagende Lied (The Plaintive Song), a three-part cantata for soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra, completed on November 1, 1880. 25 The young composer had high hopes for this latter work. He took part in a compositional competition at the Conservatory, hoping to win the coveted Beethoven Prize, endowed at 600 florins. But he had no luck.

But he had no luck. The illustrious jury, composed of Johannes Brahms, Karl Goldmark, Eduard Hanslick and Hans Richter, awarded the prize to another, one wholly forgotten today. Mahler’s disappointment must have been huge. Years later he still lamented that unsuccess. In April of 1898, he remarked to his confidante Natalie Bauer-Lechner that if the prize had been awarded to him at the time, his life would have taken an altogether different turn. ”6 Mahler’s disappointment (and his animosity toward the jury) becomes clearer if one realizes that he was wholly without means during his student years in Vienna.

On September 6, 1885, he informed his parents that he would be conducting Don Giovanni in Prague that evening. He was very proud that Angelo Neumann had entrusted him with the great work Mozart had written especially for the Prague public, and he fully realized that the newspapers would pounce upon him and that many would wail: “Woe and alas! ” He added by way of comment: “That term is used to refer to ancient habits (or schlendrian) of performing a work at a given theater. ”18 Mahler’s was a real fighter, and he had a very large energy potential at his disposal.

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