A Brief Discussion of Der Abschied
By: Payman Akhlaghi
Page 2 of 41
© Cop right: 2001 Pa man Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.© Cop right: 2010 Pa man Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
For many decades, the widely adopted narrative of the history of music in thetwentieth century seemed to have left Mahler behind, buried with reverence, in theremnants of the Late Romanticism. Yet, neither his progressive aesthetics were fullycompatible with the sensitivities of Romanticism [for example, his adventures in time andtonality and the treatment of dissonances were atypical to a Romantic ear], nor his musicwas containable within the then predominant definitions of twentieth-century Modernism[‘too’ tonal; ‘too’ lyrical]. Thus, he was forced to live in a limbo, shortly existing in a fewlast pages on the Late Romantics, a few first pages on the early Modernists, and the dark shadow in between. His ‘Yiddish Accent’ and background had only added to the extra-musical impediments and had cost him almost a perfect silence in the wartime Nazisocieties. Outside Austria and Germany still a foreigner, he was not received withoutreservations, either. Donald Mitchell, the noted Mahler specialist, recalls an Eric Blom inthe first half of the past century, telling him “authoritatively that ‘We’–the English, thatis–‘just don’t want Mahler here’, as if the composer was some kind of unwelcomemusical immigrant, to be repelled if he dared to approach our shores” (Mitchell, 1968).Mitchell further relates that in England before the 60’s, performances of Mahler’s musicwere rare and scattered, and often consisted of isolated movements of larger works (ibid).But Mahler managed to survive the oblivion, in part due to the advocacy of thelikes of Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer and Willem Mengelberg, and eventually, a timelyresurgence of his music was championed in the 1960’s by Leonard Bernstein (Schiff,2001). And resurgence it was: today, Mahler’s music has become the central piece of