Mahler and Strauss

Mahler and Strauss

In Dialogue
Charles Youmans
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/05/2016
Format: Hardback 10 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-02159-5
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A rare case among history's great music contemporaries, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) and Richard Strauss (1864-1949) enjoyed a close friendship until Mahler's death in 1911. Unlike similar musical pairs (Bach and Handel, Haydn and Mozart, Schoenberg and Stravinsky), these two composers may have disagreed on the matters of musical taste and social comportment, but deeply respected one another's artistic talents, freely exchanging advice from the earliest days of professional apprenticeship through the security and aggravations of artistic fame.

Using a wealth of documentary material, this book reconstructs the 24-year relationship between Mahler and Strauss through collage—"a meaning that arises from fragments," to borrow Adorno's characterization of Mahler's Sixth Symphony. Fourteen different topics, all of central importance to the life and work of the two composers, provide distinct vantage points from which to view both the professional and personal relationships. Some address musical concerns: Wagnerism, program music, intertextuality, and the craft of conducting. Others treat the connection of music to related disciplines (philosophy, literature), or to matters relevant to artists in general (autobiography, irony). And the most intimate dimensions of life—childhood, marriage, personal character—are the most extensively and colorfully documented, offering an abundance of comparative material. This integrated look at Mahler and Strauss discloses provocative revelations about the two greatest western composers at the turn of the 20th century.

Author Bio

Charles Youmans is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Penn State University and author of Richard Strauss’s Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual Tradition: The Philosophical Roots of Musical Modernism (IUP, 2005).


“Using a wealth of documentary material, this book reconstructs the 24-year relationship between Mahler and Strauss, providing distinct vantage points from which to view both their professional and personal relationships.”

“There has never been a book-length study of Strauss and Mahler, and the reasons are manifold and—now—mostly unnecessary. This book considers the parallel lives of the two greatest Austro-German composers of the late-19th and early-20th century, and does so with great eloquence.”
 — Bryan Gilliam, author of Rounding Wagner's Mountain: Richard Strauss and Modern German Opera

“[T]his book is a serious and much‐needed intellectual examination of these two composers and the impact of literary, philosophical, and spiritual interests on their music.”
 — Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

Mahler and Strauss takes us on a journey that traverses the broader historical and cultural climate of German-speaking Europe at the turn of the twentieth century (with a brief excursion to America along the way). And throughout this journey we are offered a succession of fresh and imaginative readings of the source material that provide us with new ways of understanding the fundamental importance of a profoundly meaningful friendship between two remarkable musicians. ”
 — Nineteenth-Century Music Review

“Thanks to Youmans’s lucid style and easy mastery of often dense material, it works well, and the high aesthetic stakes involved are established early.”
 — The Musical Times

“A fascinating volume . . . It’s also an impressive achievement in terms of its scholarship and casts a great deal of light on these two composers, both individually and together.”
 — Grammophone

“"Along the way, Mahler and Strauss in Dialogue tells a compelling story of the unexpected ways that their worlds overlapped. In so doing, it provides a model for comparative analysis that enriches our understanding of a relationship that indelibly shaped the musical world of their time and continues to fascinate us today."”
 — German Studies Review

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Table of Contents

Note on Translation
Introduction: Friends
1. Children
2. Conductors
3. Husbands
4. Wagnerians
5. Businessmen
6. Literati
7. Autobiographers
8. Programmmusiker
9. Imports
10. Allusionists
11. Ironists
12. Metaphysicians
Epilogue: Individuals

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