"Now His Time Really Seems to Have Come": Ideas about Mahler's Music in Late Imperial and First Republic Vienna

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In Vienna from about 1918 until the 1930s, contemporaries perceived a high point in the music-historical significance of Mahler's works, with regard to both the history of compositional style and the social history of music. The ideas and meanings that became attached to Mahler's works in this milieu are tied inextricably to the city's political and cultural life. Although the performances of Mahler's works under the auspices of Vienna's Social Democrats are sometimes construed today as mere acts of political appropriation, David Josef Bach's writings suggest that the innovative and controversial aspects of Mahler's works held social value in line ... continued below

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Kinnett, Forest Randolph December 2009.

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  • Kinnett, Forest Randolph

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In Vienna from about 1918 until the 1930s, contemporaries perceived a high point in the music-historical significance of Mahler's works, with regard to both the history of compositional style and the social history of music. The ideas and meanings that became attached to Mahler's works in this milieu are tied inextricably to the city's political and cultural life. Although the performances of Mahler's works under the auspices of Vienna's Social Democrats are sometimes construed today as mere acts of political appropriation, David Josef Bach's writings suggest that the innovative and controversial aspects of Mahler's works held social value in line with the ideal of Arbeiterbildung. Richard Specht, Arnold Schoenberg, and Theodor Adorno embraced oft-criticized features in Mahler's music, regarding the composer as a prophetic artist whose compositional style was the epitome of faithful adherence to one's inner artistic vision, regardless of its popularity. While all three critics addressed the relationship between detail and whole in Mahler's music, Adorno construed it as an act of subversion. Mahler's popularity also affected Viennese composers during this time in obvious and subtle ways. The formal structure and thematic construction of Berg's Chamber Concerto suggest a compositional approach close to what his student Adorno described a few years later regarding Mahler's music.

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  • December 2009

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  • March 17, 2010, 11:40 a.m.

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  • April 19, 2010, 4:10 p.m.

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Kinnett, Forest Randolph. "Now His Time Really Seems to Have Come": Ideas about Mahler's Music in Late Imperial and First Republic Vienna, dissertation, December 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc12141/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .