* Earlier versions
of Francesca Draughons contribution to this essay were
read, as Truth and Poetry in Music: Autobiography
in the Funeral March of Mahlers First Symphony,
at the Joint Regional Meeting of the American Musicological
Society, Santa Cruz, California, April 1998 (where it won
the Ingolf Dahl Memorial Award), and the National Meeting
of the American Musicological Society, Kansas City, Missouri,
November 1999. An earlier version of her paper was also awarded
the Carmela and Charles Speroni Fellowship by the Department
of Musicology at UCLA, June 1998. Earlier versions of Raymond
Knapps contribution to this essay were read, under the
present title, on June 1, 2000, at the Skirball Cultural Center
in connection with Sigmund Freud: Conflict & Culture;
and at UCLA on November 30, 2000, jointly sponsored by the
UCLA Center for Jewish Studies and the Brentwood Discussion
For more on Freuds position in Viennese culture, see
Gays Freud and A Godless Jew; Gay's A Life
for Our Time; Gilmans The Case of Sigmund Freud;
and Schorskes Fin-de-siècle Vienna.
This part of Mahlers complaint reminds us that, although
Mahlers connection to Vienna is rightly central to our
view of himand although this connection has been much
reinforced by how frequently he has figured in more general
discussions of turn-of-the-century Viennahe held several
positions in Germany before moving to Vienna in 1897, working
in Kassel (188385), Leipzig (1886-88), and Hamburg (189197).
For an engaging discussion of Mahlers youth in Iglau
and his ensuing religious uncertainties, see Franklin 942.
For another insightful discussion of fin-de-siècle
Jews and identity crises, see Harrison 2530; see also
Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna.
Lueger presents a curious profile of anti-Semitism and it
is no simple matter to determine whether his opportunistic
behavior hid a secret sympathy for Jews (which some have suggested),
represented political caution, or betrayed simple indifference;
thus, he aligned himself with the Jewish Democrats in 1876
and continued to designate himself as a liberal from 1882-1887,
while, as mayor, he in some cases acted to protect Jews. See
Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, chapter 3. Peter
Gays account of Hitlers early years describes
educated in the gutter politics of Vienna
in the days of the anti-Semitic mayor Karl Lueger, to Hitler
the mightiest mayor of all time. It was in Vienna
that he had absorbed his political philosophy,
a malignant brew of racial anti-Semitism, skillful populism,
brutalized social Darwinism, and a vague yearning for Aryan
dominion over Europe. Austria, the land so strenuously celebrated
for its musical life, its sweet young things, its Sacher torte,
and its largely mythical Blue Danubeactually not blue,
but a muddy brownprovided Hitler with the notions, and
the hints for political action, that he later loosed on the
world from the larger staging area of Germany. (Freud
Regarding Hitlers appreciation for Mahlers performances
of Wagner, Ian Kershaw reports that in
spring 1906, Adolf persuaded his mother to
fund him on a first trip to Vienna, allegedly to study the
picture gallery in the Court Museum, more likely to fulfill
a growing ambition to visit the cultural sites of the Imperial
capital. For two weeks, perhaps longer, he wandered through
Vienna as a tourist taking in the city's many attractions.
With whom he stayed is unknown. The four postcards he sent
his friend Gustl and his comments in Mein Kampf show
how captivated he was by the grandeur of the buildings and
the layout of the Ringstraße. Otherwise, he seems to
have spent his time in the theatre and marveling at the Court
Opera, where Gustav Mahler's productions of Wagner's Tristan
and The Flying Dutchman left those of provincial Linz
in the shade. (22-3)
See also Kubizek 221 and 226. Another vivid accounting of
Hitlers schooling in Vienna may be found
in Wolff 100102.
Regarding Herzl and the Zionist World Congress, see Beller;
Bein; and Cohen.
Regarding Hilsner, see Wolff 102113, especially 105107,
where Wolff draws specific connections between audience behavior,
Mahlers reaction, and the on-going Hilsner controversy.
See also Wistrich 339-340 and 514515. An anonymous article
published in the Deutsche Zeitung in the year of Hilsners
conviction reads, in part, Mahler's left hand often
jerks convulsively, marking the Bohemian magic circle, digging
for treasure, fluttering, snatching, strangling, thrashing
the waves, strangling babies (quoted in Knittel
268; see also La Grange, Mahler 486; original).
As Sander Gilman puts it, it was difficult to pick up
an issue of the Viennese Neue Freie Presse without
reading about the lodging of the blood accusation somewhere
in Europe. At least fifteen cases appeared between 1881 and
. The Jews murder of Christian children became
an element of the forensic rhetoric of the time. Gilman
also cites an explanation from a Jewish physician as to why
a child would give testimony: the small, weak child,
raised in the direst poverty, is brought before this august
person, who incorporates all justice and power.... [This]
poor, isolated being is overwhelmed by him and
listens as he describes the Jews as a damned race, who
see it as their pious undertaking to spill Christian blood,
in order to dampen the dough for the unleavened Easter bread
(The Case of Sigmund Freud 208210). Cf. Wistrichs
startling observation, which has even more direct relevance
to Mahlers tenure in Vienna, that between 1898
and 1905 alone, there were no less than thirty blood libels
recorded in different parts of the Empire, especially in the
rural Slavic (and Catholic) regions of Galicia, Bohemia, Moravia
See Page, passim. While Bernstein provides an important
touchstone for how centrally Mahlers Jewishness could
matter, there were of course other musicians for whom the
issue was in some way relevant, including Luciano Berio, Uri
Caine, Otto Klemperer, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, George Rochberg,
Arnold Schoenberg, Dimitri Shostakovich, George Solti, and
See Steinbergs compelling argument that Mahlers
conversion resulted from his considered choice, however politically
expedient it might also have been. Steinberg sees the decision
to convert or not, for some Jews of Mahlers generation
(including two others we have here raised as points of comparison
for Mahler, Freud and Herzl) as a dimension of [his]
work and its deepening intellectual and political orientation
(17). A telling anecdote recounted by Magnus Dawison (Davidsohn),
a future Berlin cantor who sang in Mahlers 1899 productions
of Beethovens Ninth and Wagners Lohengrin,
implies that the basis of Mahlers conversion rested
on his belief that one had to renounce a narrow musical practice
in order to embrace a wider one, even as it poignantly reveals
a continued, largely untapped connection to what he had renounced.
Thus, after hearing of Dawisons cantorial ambitions,
Mahler replied, But then you would have been lost to
the world of art!; yet he was soon improvising on remembered
synagogue melodies for a spellbound Dawison (La Grange, Gustav
The vexed question of Nietzsches anti-Semitism has been
the topic of much discussion, with a variety of claims being
made, ranging from the view that his perceived anti-Semitism
was entirely the product of his sisters posthumous manipulations
(see Kaufmann), to the contention that his specific formulation
of an anti-Christian anti-Semitism provided crucial underpinning
for Nazi ideology (see OBrien). See also Peters; Fischer;
Hyman; Kuenzli; Sokel; Aschheim The Nietzsche Legacy in
Germany and Nietzsche, Anti-Semitism and Mass Murder;
Regarding Shostakovich, see Taruskin. In Mahlers case,
writing overtly Christian music seemed only to draw ontoward
attention to his Jewishness; thus, regarding anti-Semitic
reaction to the Resurrection Symphony, see La
Grange, Mahler 507 and Steinberg 28.
Alma Mahler goes on, He shook his head in despair. With
a sigh of relief we at last turned a corner and found ourselves
in a well-lighted street among our own sort of people
(Memories and Letters 162; original).
Regarding Mahlers post-Alma purging of his friends,
see Franklin 127 and 129.
How well-established Louiss critical perspective had
become in between Mahlers death and the Third Reich
may be gauged from the following assessment by Paul Rosenfeld
from the early 1920s:
For if Mahlers music is pre-eminently a reflection
of Beethovens, if he never spoke in authentic accents,
if out of his vast dreams of a great modern popular symphonic
art, out of his honesty, his sincerity, his industry, his
undeniably noble and magnificent traits, there resulted only
those unhappy boring colossi that are his nine symphonies,
it is indubitably, to a great extent, the consequence of the
fact that he, the Jew, was born in a society that made Judaism,
Jewish descent and Jewish traits, a curse to those that inherited
them. The destiny that had made him Jew decreed that, did
he speak out fully, he would have to employ an idiom that
would recall the harsh accents of the Hebrew language quite
as much as that of any tongue spoken by the peoples of Europe.
It decreed that, whatever the history of the art in which
he lived, he could not impress himself upon his medium without
impregnating it with the traits he inherited from his ancestors.
But it was just the racial attributes, the racial gesture
and accent, that a man in Mahlers position found inordinately
difficult to register.
So a ruinous conflict was introduced
into the soul of Gustav Mahler. In the place of the united
self, there came to exist within him two men. For while one
part of him demanded the free complete expression necessary
to the artist, another sought to block it for fear that in
the free flow the hated racial traits would appear.
[and later:] For Mahler never spoke in his own idiom. His
style is a mongrel affair.
The fatal assimilative power
of the Jew is revealed nowhere in music more sheerly than
in the style of Mahler.
[and still later:] Mahler,
in seeking to escape his racial traits, ended by representing
nothing so much as the Jew. For if there is anything visible
behind the music of Mahler, it is the Jew as Wagner, say,
describes him in Das Judentum in der Musik, the
Jew who through the superficial assimilation of the traits
of the people among whom he is condemned to live, and through
the suppression of his own nature, becomes sterile.
It is the Jew as he is when he wants most to cease being a
Jew. (206209, 215216, and 220221)
Notably, Rosenfeld is by no means anti-Semitic in conventional
terms, for in the same volume he writes approvingly of Ernest
Bloch, one of the few Jewish composers [who is] really,
fundamentally self-expressive (287).
There were many other dimensions to Bernsteins construction
of Mahler as a double man, including child-adult,
East-West, operatic-symphonic, and orchestra-chamber, which
he delineated for his script of Who Is Gustav Mahler.
Curiously, however, Bernstein backed away from actually using
the Jewish-Christian aspect of his double-man
explanation for Mahler in the telecast of Who is Gustav
Mahler, striking it from the typescript prior to delivery
and adding Jewish to the East part
of his East-West dichotomy (see also Bernstein,
Mahler: His Time Has Come, 258261). Regarding
the double-man and Bernsteins discussion
of Mahlers duality, see Page 208209
and 217228, and most especially 219, 221, 222, and 226.
The specific association of neurosis and Jews dates from at
least Mahlers generation. According to Gilman, the
view that Jews are especially prone to hysteria and neurasthenia
because of a weakening of the nervous system due to inbreeding
appeared in canonical form in Jean Martin Charcot's Tuesday
Lesson for 23 October 1888 (Difference 155).
In his Lesson Charcot wrote: I will use this
occasion to stress that nervous illnesses of all types are
innumerably more frequent among Jews than among other groups
(v. 2, 1112).
We may well note that Bernsteins double-man
has its roots in Rosenfelds In the place of the
united self, there came to exist within him two men
(previous note); although Bernstein does not acknowledge the
full scope of his agenda, he is, like the present authors,
attempting to take seriously a previously articulated negative
assessment of Mahlers music, in order to rescue the
analytical insights from the bile that surrounds them. It
is, admittedly, a delicate operation, and we can scarcely
fault Bernstein from shying away in the end from performing
it for his young people. But the cultural ambivalence
so often noted in Mahlers music, which gives both Louiss
and Rosenfelds assessments their persuasive weight (and
both did, after all, manage to persuade large numbers of people),
is too central to our concerns for us simply to put their
observations aside as tainted.
In the cut portion of Who is Gustav Mahler?, Bernstein
claims that this passage has the flavor of a band playing
at a Jewish wedding (8); see also Page 222.
Ex. A: Berlioz,
London Classical Players, Roger Norrington
© 1989 EMI CDC 7 49541 2
The prominence of the E-flat clarinet here is extraordinary,
as the instrument was not yet a regular voice
in the orchestra. The most significant earlier example occurs
in the finale of Berliozs Symphonie Fantastique,
where it functions similarly, adding a flavor of parodistic
caricature (hear Ex. A).
The predominance of the violin in the klezmer ensemble
remained unchallenged until the relatively late introduction
of the clarinet early in the 19th century
was an evocative and mesmerizing instrument that sought out
and found that most compelling aspect of the music: its closeness
to the human voice (Sapoznik 8).
A nasal vocal quality was also generally understood as a marker
of a Jewish voice, as an anecdote about Arthur
Schnitzler shows: after hearing a recording of his own voice,
Schnitzler wrote in his diary that he was struck with its
nasal, Jewish character (diary entry for March
19, 1907, cited from the unpublished diaries in Rider, Der
Fall Otto Weininger 207; see also Idelsohn, Jewish
Brod points out Mahlers frequent use of this dotted
march rhythm (in all but the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Ninth
Symphonies) and, after stating that this rhythm is characteristic
of Hassidic folk songs, argues that Mahler uses these rhythms
mainly when the text or narrative is of the highest subjectsGod
and eternityjust as these rhythms are used in
the Sabbath songs of Hassidic music (378). To be sure, dotted
rhythms have other topical signification grounded well outside
Jewish traditions, such as marches, nobility, and military.
Ukrainian musicologist Philaret Kolessa calls the mode the
altered Dorian because he believes it may have
been derived from the Dorian by augmenting the fourth above
the final. Its widespread use in the Ukraine leads some to
call it the Ukrainian Dorian mode, and Jewish
synagogue singers call it Misheberakh, for the
name of the prayer it frequently accompanies; see Kolessa.
For further discussions of the mode and the various names
it has been given, see also Idelsohn, Jewish Music
181195; and Slobin 184187.
Although this mode is also prevalent in songs of the Ukraine,
its use in these songs differs from Eastern-European songs
in several regards: the mode would more often have a descending
profile, the emphasis would be on only one motive, which is
varied and embellished, and the turn figure typically has
a downward profile (scale degrees 1765671;
and hear Ex. B); see Idelsohn, Jewish Music 181195
and Musical Characteristics 634645.
In a review of the première, Beer characterized the
melody as performed in the Hungarian manner (quoted
in Floros 39); Mitchell refers to the melodies as gypsy
music (294); and Floros characterizes the music as a
csardas, a Hungarian dance (42).
As given in an 1894 program. Although Mahler changed the titles
of the movements of the symphony several times, and disrupted
the structure of the work as a whole by discarding the original
second movement, he always grouped the final two movements
together and rarely changed their descriptive titles. For
the 1889 Budapest premiere, performances in Hamburg (1893)
and Weimar (1894), and the title page for EMS (1894), the
second part of the symphony is titled Commedia humana.
The funeral marchs title changed only a bit, from Stranded!
(A funeral march in the manner of Callot)
(Hamburg, 1893) to Stranded! The Hunters Funeral
Procession (Weimar, 1894) to simply Funeral March
in the manner of Callot for the 1894 EMS
title page. Similarly, the fourth movement retained, in one
form or another, the title Dall Inferno al Paradiso.
See Mitchell 158159 for a complete chronology of the
titles and their changes.
Mitchell argues that Mahler, in making this reference to Callot,
was not intending to evoke the French etcher Jacques Callot
(1592/31635), but rather, E. T. A. Hoffmans Phantasiestücke
in Callots Manier. Similarly, Pfohl reports that Mahlers
title Todtenmarsch in Callots Manier refers to Hoffmans
Fantasiestücke, which he claims to have pointed
out to Mahler (17).
Other binary oppositions suggested by the symphonic movements
association with the woodcut include high art
vs. folk, human vs. nature
and, by extension, urban vs. rural.
For a more elaborate discussion of these and other frames
of reference in Mahlers creation of his distinctive
musical identity, see Draughon.
Although most of the Mahler literature identifies the referenced
song as Bruder Martin, German-speaking musicologists
sometimes offer Bruder Jakob as an alternative;
see Jung-Kaiser. We may also note that Jakob provides
a much more plausible connection to the French version (Jacques),
although the English version (John) can only have
arisen directly from the French, and carries none of the referential
meanings of Martin and Jakob cited
Adorno speaks of the bridge between popular and art
music in Mahlers symphonies (31). Similarly, Schorske
argues that by interjecting into the regulated movement
of the lofty the dynamic of the lowly, Mahler produced a sense
of shock, even of short circuit (Gustav Mahler
As Bakhtin states, The laughter [of the carnival] is
ambivalent: it is gay, triumphant, and at the same time mocking
and deriding. It asserts and denies, it buries and revives
Mahler described the funereal allusion in the Fourth Symphony
as Der kleine Appell, implicitly the more modest
sibling of the Der grosse Appell (the
great calling of the roll) in the finale of the Second
Symphony; see Bauer-Lechner 154. A facsimile page from the
autograph manuscript of the Second Symphony, headed Der
grosse Apell [sic], is given in Hefling, Mahler:
Symphonies 14 388.
Regarding the presumed identity of the hero, see
Hefling, Mahlers Todtenfeier
2753. Regarding the forgiving tone of the finale, see
his Mahler: Symphonies 14 387.
See, for example, the poetry of Nabokovs Poems and
Problems, whose intricacies seem ultimately as foreign-based
as the intricate, convoluted sensibility that govern the chess
problems, or the aesthetic sense that would link such intricacies
to the contrivances of poetry.
See Knittel; see also Schorske, Gustav Mahler;
and Blaukopf 158. Critics of Mahlers Beethoven may also
have been objecting to his revisions in the orchestration,
although here Mahler was following a tradition most strongly
advanced by Wagner.
Regarding the song and its development, see Dowlding 133136;
Harry 217; and Lewisohn 196.
The full passage reads as follows:
In the Fischpredigt
mood is one of rather bitter-sweet humor. St. Anthony preaches
to the fishes; his words are immediately translated into their
thoroughly tipsy-sounding language (in the clarinet), and
they all come swimming up to hima glittering shoal of
them: eels and carp, and the pike with their pointed heads.
I swear, while I was composing, I really kept imagining that
I saw them sticking their stiff immovable necks out from the
water, and gazing up at St. Anthony with their stupid facesI
had to laugh out loud! And look at the congregation swimming
away as soon as the sermon's over: Die Predigt hat gfallen/Sie
bleiben wie alle [They liked the sermon/But remained
unchanged]. Not one of them is one iota wiser for it,
even though the Saint has performed it for them! But only
a few people will understand my satire on mankind. (Bauer-Lechner
The pictorial dimension of this song was undoubtedly reinforced
for Mahler by his having an engraving of this scene (apparently
the one by Arnold Böcklin) on the wall of his Hamburg
studio (La Grange, Mahler 883, n53).
This account comes from a letter to Max Marschalk, dated 26
March 1896; see Gustav Mahler 150.
That the close identification of high musical culture and
German instrumental music was the result of a deliberate strategy
during the generation following Beethoven, has been persuasively
argued by Pederson. Applegate has challenged this view, positing
a less central role for nationalism in the elevation of music,
without, however, denying the place Marx and others claimed
for serious music within the context of a developing
German nationalism, nor arguing effectively against either
the gravity of the consequences nor the often pernicious tenacity
of this coupling. Regarding the development of the idea of
absolute music in the German lands, see Nelson;
Dahlhaus, The Idea of Absolute Music and The
Twofold Truth in Wagners Aesthetics: Nietzsches
Fragment On Music and Words; and Hanslick
(although Hanslick does not use the term absolute music,
he is clearly responding to Wagners disparaging use
of the term some years earlier).
For a descriptive/interpretive account of Berios adaptation,
Cooke refers to this song-based section of the movement as
a consolation (3336).
Another credible interpretation of Mahlers procedures
is that the dance-like counterpoint is a necessary complication
to what would otherwise be rather tedious repetitions of a
joke worn thin. But this consideration by no means invalidates
the reading offered here of the effect of the device.
Mahlers use of absolute music as a topic
is often aligned with situations in which, allegorically,
animals represent a world unattuned to human concerns (cf.
the earlier discussion of Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt
and the Scherzo of the Second Symphony; a similar process
may be traced in the transformation of Ablösung
im Sommer into the Scherzo of the Third Symphony). In
noting Mahlers frequent use of this trope, Olsen concludes,
His approach to the animal pieces provides a telling
testimony to the unsettling dissonance between mortal tragedy
and the brutal workings of an uncaring world. Thus Mahler
turned to the animals to express his disenchantment
(222). Yet, as argued here, the animal pieces
are much too subtly nuanced to sustain this generalization,
reflecting Mahlers almost pervasive ambivalence; significantly,
none of them may be taken as a pure indictment of the world.
If it is surprising that the net modulatory result in the
movement is identical to that in the song, we must remember
that modulation, like addition, is commutative, so that IV
+ flat-VI = flat-VI + IV = flat-II.
This device for enhancing excitement, derived largely from
Beethoven and becoming later in the twentieth century a device
for artificially juicing up repetitions in some
genres of popular music, was already well on its way to becoming
a cliché in the late nineteenth century, with, most
relevantly for Mahler, myriad examples in Bruckner. In this
case, the effect is made particularly startling because it
involves centrally one of the traditionally stable components
of the orchestra, the timpani, and because the lift occurs
only after a substantial intervening section.
To be sure, a more subjectively rendered cry of despair, matching
more closely those in his next two symphonies, launches the
finale of the First; see Olsen 223226.