Author Topic: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler  (Read 7473 times)

john haueisen

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2011, 03:01:23 PM »
Back to the original issue of understanding Mahler.  First, I want to congratulate you for trying to enjoy it, and for stating so very well what you heard in the music.  I have heard friends say the same about it, wondering how I and others can be so devoted to the music, when many others see only "pretty notes, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere."

At first, I tried to tell people to listen closer, and really pay attention.  But for most folks, that doesn't work either.
Right now, my best recommendation would be to play something like Mahler's first symphony, over and over in the background, while you work on some other project--things like cleaning house, polishing the car, or anything that will take an hour or so.

Don't expect immediate results.  But if you do keep that music in the background, your mind may just eventually assimilate it, put it all together and make sense of it.  The reward is that you will see the world and Mahler's music in a new way, with more feeling than you ever imagined music could generate.  This may sound a little crazy, but your dad might agree:  you will feel that you have been "touched by the gods" in being able to enjoy such a supreme pleasure that Mahler's music provides.
Good Luck (and don't rush it--just let it happen if it will),

--John Haueisen

Offline Roffe

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2011, 04:52:20 PM »
Friends of mine ALWAYS played M1 to their little daughter, when she was taking her afternoon nap. After she learned to say some words, she used to remind them by saying "tic" (for music), if they had forgot to put on M1. So, this little 0.5 to 1.5 year old girl got addicted to listen to M1 to her afternoon nap.

Roffe

john haueisen

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2011, 06:11:54 PM »
What a great anecdote about a child--Thanks Roffe!
Does anyone else have memories of kids listening to Mahler?
Does anyone have further suggestions (I know it may not be possible) as to how listeners can "get" Mahler--what might help people "understand" or appreciate the music? 
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 06:14:48 PM by john haueisen »

Offline mahler09

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2011, 10:40:21 PM »
I'm not sure how well somebody can nap to the 4th movement of M1!  ;)  I nearly fell out of my seat the first time I heard it...

Offline Roffe

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2011, 06:30:15 AM »
I can nap while listening to M. I think you listen in different ways when you are awake or asleep. Years ago I used to nap on Sunday afternoons playing Tchaikowsky's "The Nutcracker" in the background. When the music was finished, so was my nap. It almost never failed; I fell asleep in the beginning and woke up when the CD player got silent. Trying to nap without music almost always failed.

Now I can nap to Mahler's music. I haven't tried with M2, M3, or dLvdE, only the iinstrumental symphonies and the "pastoral" M3.

Roffe

john haueisen

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2011, 03:52:32 PM »
This topic, learning to understand Mahler, brings up the question, "What would be a good book(s) that might possibly help someone with Mahler's music?"   

john haueisen

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2011, 04:08:40 PM »
For starters, I would recommend David Hurwitz's book, "The Mahler Symphonies: an Owner's Manual," which thoughtfully and helpfully includes a CD to help identify specifically the passages described.

There's also a DVD,  Little Drummer Boy: Essay on Mahler by Leonard Bernstein, which helps show what Mahler was talking about, (and why people like Bernstein found his music so moving).
--John Haueisen 

Offline chalkpie

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Re: I am having a hard time understanding Mahler
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2011, 06:25:17 PM »
Just found this thread - wondering if there is any progress....?

Here is my (quick) story: I am a 20th century fanatic first and foremost - romanticism was never my bag. I bought M5 (lenny DG), M6 (Boulez), and M7 (Boulez) from BMG years ago. Hated it...hated it...hated it..hated it. Longwinded...boring...schmaltzy....WAY too much hype. It actually pissed me off that GM was so highly regarded - it became a bad attitude on my part and i actually wanted to hate this music. Anyway, fast forward a bit - I somehow fell in love with Prokofiev Symphony No. 5. The "romantic" qualities somehow spoke to me and I found myself deciding to try the three Mahler recordings i still owned. One summer night with headphones I tossed in M5 and listened to it from soup-to-nuts. I couldn't believe it....I actually liked it. No, I loved it. How could this be? I followed suit with M6 and M7 - same thing. I then started to collect M5's - I was almost addicted to that piece. I read a ton of reviews at Amazon, etc. fast forward again - - - I eventually made my way through the entire symphonies, and became obsessed like the rest of the freaks here  ;)

Dare I say that gun to my head - GM is now my favorite. Surpassing Ives, Stravinsky, Bartok, Messiaen, Ravel, Carter, Webern, Debussy, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Schoenberg, Bach, Copland, etc by an inch or so.

I am obsessed with his music and I have no apologies saying that he wrote the greatest set of symphonies in the HISTORY of music. He actually spoiled music for me - I basically cant listen to any symphonies that came before him, maybe with the exception of Beethoven 3 and 9. Everything else seems inferior at this point. Sorry, but that is the way it is. In order for music to get on equal par with Mahler for my ears, I have to look forward, not backwards.

Don't give up man! Don't! Try, try, try and try again.

Here is my suggestion:

1) Get modern versions of the symphonies in stunning sound

2) Listen to the following movements for an entire week - every day - even if it is painful:

M1 - 4th mvt
M2 - 5th mvt
M3 - 1st and 6th mvt
M5 - 1st mvt, 4th mvt
M6 - Andante
M7 - 1st mvt

Listen until you can recognize the melodies - possibly sing along. Do it and dont give up. Once the bug bites, the rest is history and you better start saving your coin because Mahler is an expensive hobby!

Mahler forever!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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