In this study Thomas Peattie offers a new account of Mahler's symphonies by considering the composer's reinvention of the genre in light of his career as a conductor and more broadly in terms of his sustained engagement with the musical, theatrical, and aesthetic traditions of the Austrian fin de siecle. Drawing on the ideas of landscape, mobility, and theatricality, Peattie creates a richly interdisciplinary framework that reveals the uniqueness of Mahler's symphonic idiom and its radical attitude toward the presentation and ordering of musical events. The book goes on to identify a fundamental tension between the music's episodic nature and its often-noted narrative impulse and suggests that Mahler's symphonic dramaturgy can be understood as a form of abstract theatre.
Thomas Peattie is Assistant Professor of Music at Boston University. His articles and reviews have appeared in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Acta Musicologica, Music and Letters, and Naturlaut. His essay 'In Search of Lost Time: Memory and Mahler's Broken Pastoral' appears in the collection Mahler and his World (2002). His research interests include the Austro-German symphony, Gustav Mahler, early modernism, sound reproduction, auditory culture, aesthetics, and historiography.
Introduction: hearing Mahler; 1. The expansion of symphonic space; 2. Distant music; 3. Alpine journeys; 4. Symphonic panoramas; 5. The wanderer.