A Conversation for The Music of Mahler

How to enjoy Mahler

Post 1


I've always had a love of music, so much so that went to college to study it. It seems weird now, but there were certain pre-conceived musical ideas that I brought with me to college that biased me toward or against certain types of music. One of them was against Mahler, or rather, against all those old European men who didn't know when their symphony was over. (That went for poetry, too, but that's another story.) I had heard recordings of Mahler, of course, in various Music History and Music Theory classes, but it never seemed to interest me.

It wasn't until Spring Break of my senior year, when I got tickets to hear the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra perform Mahler's 5th symphony that things changed. Of course, I didn't go there to hear Mahler, because I didn't like Mahler. They were playing something else that I actually liked at the time . . . but now I can't even remember what it was! I came away from that concert a Mahler fan.

There's just something about hearing music played live. I never would have bought an album by Primus if I hadn't heard them in concert. My love of Tori Amos would not be so deep if I hadn't kept attending her concerts. And, of course, I never would have "discovered" Mahler if it hadn't been for that concert.

This may be a key to teaching real Music Appreciation in schools, especially to those kids who show no real interest. There is a certain personal link that is created when one hears a piece performed live that can't be created between a man and his compact discs. People can discuss all they want about how Mahler tried to express sorrow, or joy, or the frustrations of life in his music, but it is all just words that are forgotten as soon as they are said. What a person needs to really get into a piece is a personal connection.

Now, when I hear Mahler's 5th, my mind doesn't recall all of the things that critics say Mahler is trying to express, it recalls the feelings I had that day at the concert. It is personalized. And it works.

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How to enjoy Mahler

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