New York: Boosey & Hawkes [PN B. & H. 8905], [ca. 1942].
Folio. Original publisher's green printed wrappers. [i] (title), ii-vii (text), [i] (blank), 159, [i] (blank) pp. With occasional markings in blue crayon in an unidentified hand.
Wrappers slightly worn.
First performed in Munich on November 20, 1911, with Bruno Walter conducting.
"[The] internal contradictions [of the eighth symphony] are compounded by the fact that Mahler's own ability to subscribe to its positive vision had been undermined by the crises of 1907, following his daughter Maria’s death: crises which bore fruit in Das Lied von der Erde (1908). This orchestral song cycle, based on German versions of ancient Chinese poetry collected by Hans Bethge in Die chinesische Flöte (1907), was as original in form and technique as it was assured in its urgently lucid clarification of the subjective dialectic of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies."
"Real Chinese music may have inspired the metrical innovations which contribute to quasi-heterophonic passages for solo instruments. In the extended last movement, ‘Der Abschied’, such passages project stylized images of the natural world as described by the singer ‘In narrative tone, without expression’. For tenor and contralto soloists in strict alternation (the second movement permits the contralto to be replaced by a baritone), the cycle's six movements fall into three pairs. The middle pair recall youth and beauty while the first and last present a tensely contested balance between energetic abandonment to existential despair (particularly in the two drinking songs; the ape howling its laughter amid gravestones is a crucial image in the opening movement) and a more controlled attempt to maintain lyrical equilibrium beyond the destructive expressionist ‘moment’. The possibility of that balance, of an extended symphony in the conventional manner, was to be the implicit theme of Mahler's last two works, neither of which (like Das Lied von der Erde) he lived to hear performed." Peter Franklin in Grove Music Online.
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