Sunday, August 19, 2007

Odd words from Mahler

Gustav Mahler's friend Natalie Bauer-Lechner quotes Mahler's words from August 4, 1901 (just a short time before he became involved with Alma):
They were the most blissful days of my life, those of my honeymoon with my muse! Since then it has become a real marriage. We have one child after another, as though that were quite normal, and it hardly even occurs to us to thank one another for this happiness.

Huh? The more I read about Mahler, the more I think that he might have been a person on the Autism spectrum.


Peter (the other) said...

Not at all to impune Bauer-Lechner's veracity, but just by definition, third party accounts are still hearsay. One can ponder Mahler, and imagine some kind of understanding, but it will always be speculative.I have always been a bit at odds with the musicological faction who spend much time researching the composer's personal life. I can't imagine how such knowledge would change the fact that is the music, which to me is the miracle and holds all that needs to be known about it within.

Then, maybe I am just afraid of being so judged by such third party sources on my own demise... :-) (I should be so lucky).

Lisa Hirsch said...

That quotation sounds to me like the hyperbolic joy of composing.

Michael Leddy said...

Duke Ellington put the relationship differently: "Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one."

The Mahler image is kind of odd: a muse inspires, breathes through the maker (poet, composer). So if it's a marriage with children, Mahler's the one being impregnated. Yipes!

Elaine Fine said...

I just thought of a plausible scenario for this comment. Bauer-Lechner was romantically interested in Mahler. It was after the breakup of her marriage that she, by way of a friendship with Mahler's sister, made her way into the family fold. She was a couple of years older than Mahler, and she was an accomplished professional musician during a time when professional musicians were rarely female. She also never would have filled Mahler's desire for a women who would be totally devoted to his happiness, and to have that be her "profession."

So, maybe Mahler gave this example to let Natalie know that he didn't have the need for a woman in his life: he was married to his muse. I imagine that Natalie must have been rather angry at him when he started courting Alma four months later.

As for third party comments, mine should be taken as a 10th party hunch. And I have absolutely no evidence to support it.

Though I love reading about composers' personal lives, I agree that no matter how deeply you search it is hard, if not impossible, to find what makes a composer "tick" musically. I don't even understand what makes composers I know "tick." I don't even know what makes me "tick" as a composer.