Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Mr. James Erb
A study of Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony cannot be begun without introduction. Too many extra musical experiences in Mahler's life need to be explored before a study of the music is undertaken. His life, especially the two years before his death, was like a whirlwind of problematic experiences. It is impossible to say exactly which of these experiences affected the Ninth but it is certain that many of them did. In tracing the line from birth to death one sees the inner turmoil that Mahler brought into this last completed Symphony. Deryck Cooke places Mahler with such men of vision as Wagner, Flaubert, Rodin, and Rilke--men who devoted their whole lives to artistic creation, leaving little time for the affairs of life. Even so, Mahler was human. He took time to help fellow musicians, had a strong sense of humor, but also a deep sense of remorse for unknowingly having starved his wife and family of love. He constantly kept abreast of the sciences and, since his university days, always had near him a book of philosophy. As Cooke writes:
Mahler's inner conflict was the eternal one between innocence and experience, idealism and realism, affirmation and denial. Of a basically life-loving nature, he was confronted from the beginning with the problems of cruelty, pain, and death, and thus with the question of the value and purpose of human life.
Sturms, Edward D., "Poignant quotations and the thematic structures in Gustav Mahler's ninth symphony" (1983). Honors Theses. 772.