|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2010
"But I have written to you that I am engaged on a great work. Don't you see how that claims one completely, and how one is often so engrossed in it that one is virtually dead to anything else? Now think of a very great work in which the whole world is reflected--oneself is, so to speak, merely an instrument on which the universe plays...At such moments I do not belong to myself...There are terrible birth pangs the creator of such a work has to suffer, before it all arranges itself and constructs itself and flares up in his head, there has to be a good deal of absent-mindedness and self-absorption and deadness to the outside world...My symphony will be something such as the world has never heard! The whole of Nature finds a voice in it, and tells of such secret things as one may perhaps divine in a dream. I tell you, I myself get an uncanny sensation at certain points, I feel as though I hadn't written this myself."
-Gustav Mahler discussing his Third Symphony to Anna von Mildenburg (from "Mahler" by Kurt Blaukopf translated by Inge Goodwin, Praeger Books, 1973)
"And so we come to the final incredible page [of the Ninth Symphony]. And this page, I think, is the closest we have ever come, in any work of art, to experiencing the very act of dying, of giving it all up. The slowness of this page is terrifying...It is terrifying, and paralyzing, as the strands of sound disintegrate. We hold on to them, hovering between hope and submission.And one by one, these spidery strands connecting us to life melt away, vanish from our fingers even as we hold them. We cling to them as they dematerialize; we are holding two--then one. One, and suddenly none. For a petrifying moment there is only silence. Then again, a strand, a broken strand, two strands, one...none. We are half in love with easeful death...now more than ever seems it rich to die, to cease upon the midnight with no pain...And in ceasing, we lose it all. But in letting go, we have gained everything."
-Leonard Bernstein, from his The Twentieth Century Crisis, the 5th part of "The Unanswered Question", the Harvard University Norton Lecture Series (1973)
"I have been going through so many experiences (for the past year and a half) that I can hardly discuss them. How should I attempt to describe such colossal crisis? I see everything in such a new light and I am in such continuous fluctuation...I am thirster than ever for life, and I find the 'habit of living' sweeter than ever..."
-Gustav Mahler in a letter to Bruno Walter, 1909 (from"Mahler-The Man and his Music" by Egon Gartenberg, Schirmer Books, 1978)
Happy 150th Birthday, Herr Mahler!
(Text in the below video is from the last part of the 5th lecture, The Twentieth Century Crisis, of the riveting 6-part The Unanswered Question, Leonard Bernstein's Harvard Norton Lectures talks from the 1970s; )
(photo credit: Mahler on his way to conduct the Court Opera in 1904 from Kurt Blaukopf's Mahler)
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 10:55 PM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.