Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kinderman, William. “‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’: Mahler’s Rückert Setting and the Aesthetics of Integration in the Fifth Symphony.” The Musical Quarterly 88 (Summer 2005): 232-73.

The final two movements of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony are deeply interrelated and can understood in light of his techniques of integrating song and symphony and his interest in the aesthetics of polarity. The use of the Adagietto of Mahler’s Fifth in Visconti’s film Death in Venice colors its reception as it is used to underscore the isolation of the film’s central character, fictional composer Gustav von Aschenbach. However, the similarities between the Adagietto and Mahler’s setting of “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,” composed just before the Adagietto, challenges this reading. When understood as a song without words (as Adorno describes the movement) based on “Ich bin der Welt,” the distancing from the world and isolation is cast in a positive light as the sanctuary of the inner self. The falling seventh motif in the Adagietto also has a musical affinity to the glance motive in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. The relationship between the Adagietto and the other movements of the symphony, particularly the Rondo-Finale, also suggests a deep integration of the movements of the Fifth Symphony. The integrated aesthetic and fugal writing of the Adagietto and Finale correspond to similar double perspectives in Die Meistersinger. In opposition to what Adorno perceives as a “brokenness” in Mahler’s music, the integrated, dialectical relationship between the Adagietto and the Rondo-Finale represents the unity in Mahler’s symphonic forms.

Works: Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Sources: Mahler: “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” from Rückert-Lieder (234-247), “Lob des hohen Verstandes” from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (262-63); Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (250-51)

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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