Further Striving


Music shaped by the sacred tradition reflects Mahler's ongoing search for spiritual transcendence through art.
"O believe, my heart, O believe"
VIDEO:MTT on the musical language of Mahler's Tenth Symphony
  • Mahler was in the process of composing a Tenth Symphony when he died. It represented a turn to new musical territory, including a harmonic language that might be compared to progressive jazz.

VIDEO:MTT on the emotional anguish in Mahler's Tenth Symphony
  • The work grew out of a time of despair. In delicate physical health, he was confronted with a shattering emotional blow: the discovery of Alma's infidelity with the young architect Walter Gropius. The score of his Tenth Symphony includes anguished scrawls to Alma: "To live for you, To die for you Almschi!" The crisis led Mahler to ask for a consultation with Sigmund Freud.

Mahler's Methods

Developing Variation
  • Many of Mahler’s most gripping slow movements combine rondo with variation form. Every time the theme returns, it is elaborated, ornamented, extended, or combined with a countermelody or even a variation of itself. In this way, themes that are already very powerful when first stated, reach ever higher degrees of intensity. In the Tenth Symphony, this mode of expression reaches its greatest realization.

Related Examples
A Last Discord
  • Mahler’s last completed symphonic movement reaches a climax of despair in these remarkable bars, where the pure sound of the note A is overwhelmed by a orchestral wall of shrill discord.

Related Examples