Mahler 4th Symphony Analysis

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It is worth mentioning that most of the quotations are from large Symphonic works of composers who were living and writing concomitantly with Mahler. Berio himself in an interview assumes the emphasis placed on 20th century music, most specifically in the last one hundred years. Although the preference for modern works points towards a post-tonal harmonic structure, the majority of quotations are of a more moderate nature, such as Stravinsky, Ravel and Debussy rather than the full-blown atonality of Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez. To a certain point, it seems contradictory that an avant-garde composer such as Berio has emphasized most pre-serial works. However, in defense of the composer, it is possible to argue that these materials might …show more content…
Mahler’s 4th Symphony, Berg’s Wozzeck, Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, and the works by Boulez and Webern were all major vocal works. Mahler’s scherzo which is the foundation for the third movement is not properly a vocal piece, but has close connections with vocal music that go beyond the Antonius von Padua song. On the movements that follow the scherzo on the Symphony, Mahler introduces soloists and choir singing poems about death and resurrection. Berio’s choice of these quotations not only acknowledges the importance of the voice in music history but also carry semantics that point towards life, death and irony in between. Berio’s use of the voice, has never been conventional, since pieces like “Circles” and Sequenza III, the composer demonstrated to be more interested on the deconstruction of the musical material and of the “voice” itself. He is not as much concerned with quoting vocal lines from any work, as he is with incorporating voices like instruments into the music. However, in the third movement his vocal treatment was largely conventional and the text stands for its meaning, just as much as it does for its phonetic

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