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Some of you with literary memories back to the 1980's can mentally fill in the ... part of this SNLC's title with the words "Mahler's Ninth Symphony".  The full (and in retrospect, rather portentous) title was from an essay by Dr. Lewis Thomas, an MD and noted popular medicine and science writer.  You can read that essay here.  At the time of that essay, fears about nuclear annihilation were very much in the air, if you remember the era of SDI and The Day After.  That spirit very much informs Thomas' essay, particularly his stressful thoughts about the mass death that would have ensued had it come to pass.

Fortunately, as of 2011, this hasn't happened (yet).  We're still here, as is the music.  I had a chance to hear the symphony live recently, and my own reaction to it now, after years of absorption of Mahler, varies in emphasis from Thomas.  Yet a similar queasiness is present, if for different reasons.  More below the flip.....

First, though, I have to warn you that if you're expecting here a Dumbo-like quality of discussion of sonata form in his terrific series of classical music diaries, you've come to the wrong place :) .  I don't have his grasp of sonata form and musical structure, and I thus won't expostulate on that.  My discussion is more "visceral", if thus more difficult to put into words as a result.

Thomas emphasized Mahler 9's last movement, the Adagio, in his comments on his fears of nuclear carnage and mass death, because the Adagio movement is celebrated and often commented on as a "sonic presentation of Death itself", in the words of one of Mahler 9's most noted interpreters, Leonard Bernstein.  However, for me, the stress about the big end comes not in the 4th movement, but the 1st, the Andante comodo.  To use as aural and visual source material (before it gets taken down from YT), I refer you to this very nice video of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra with conductor Claudio Abbado (August 2010):

Listen at 00:13 of the video for the 4-note motive in the harp.  That rhythm recurs throughout the 1st movement, in various timbres and volumes.  Where, as I've gotten older, I start cringing with respect to that movement is at a moment like 7:15, with that 4-note rhythm being sounded on the timpani.

It turns out that, perhaps without realizing it when I was younger, I had reason to cringe.  The composer Alban Berg commented on the 1st movement of Mahler 9, in a letter to his wife, that this movement features as its emotional undercurrent:

".....a premonition of death...that registers itself again and again.  Everything earthly that has been dreamt away culminates in it (hence the climaxes breaking forth like new ebullitions after the sweetest passages) - strongest, naturally, at the uncanny place where this premonition of death becomes certainty, where in the midst of the deepest, most painful lust for life, mit höchster Gewalt [#] Death announces his arrival."

Citation: Alban Berg, Briefe an seine Frau (Letters to his wife), quoted in The Mahler Companion, Chapter 20, "The Ninth Symphony", by Stephen E. Helfing (ed. Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson).  Oxford University Press, p. 470 (1999).

[#] "With the greatest force"

The other times where the climaxes that Berg refers to occur in the video are at 11:35 (with the buildup to that beforehand, of course), but the big moment that Berg refers to, the mit höchster Gewalt moment (at least to my understanding - I don't have a score in front of me) is at 3:17 in the next part of the performance, this video link:

It's again the moment when the timpani bangs out the four-note rhythm that really gets to me.  I sort of have the feeling that this rhythm may well be what a heart attack would be like, expressed in the language of music.  Plus, the use of relatively "soft" timpani sticks gives that motive a sort of "heavy" quality that I'm finding tougher emotionally to deal with, with age.

One contrasting sound, if you're a Mahler nerd (especially a Mahler 9 nerd), is in the famous (or perhaps infamous, for one moment in the last movement) recording of Leonard Bernstein leading the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in his one and only appearance with that orchestra, on October 4, 1979.  At the mit höchster Gewalt movement in that recording, it sounds to me as though the timpanist uses hard sticks rather than soft ones that you see in the video.  In addition, from that recording, whereas the video version above sort of "softpedals" the timpani motive after the trombone roar before hand, Bernstein has the timpanist really let loose and bang it out.  It's almost as if the feeling, again with reference to the heart attack idea, is "if it must happen, then let it be quick".

So, you may wonder, if this moment so stresses out 3CM the loser, why would he subject himself to a live performance of Mahler 9?  Well, there are several reasons:

(1) It's a great symphony (well, duh).
(2) Live performances of it aren't that frequent, certainly not around here.

The last local performance was back in November 2008 (where I understand that Olympia Dukakis attended one concert, while in town for a theater performance at another venue - but 3CM digresses, as usual), and from the notes, you'll see that the most recent prior local performance was almost 16 years before.  The recent performance that I heard was 300 miles north by northeast, where you can read the concert liner notes here.  Given that Bernard Haitink is probably the leading Mahler conductor in the world currently, I wasn't going to miss this, emotional stresses or otherwise.  Reviews of that concert are here and here.

So with 3CM back to his usual theme of nerdy musical esoterica (always good for limiting the # of comments), 'tis time for the usual SNLC protocol, namely your loser stories of the week.  To compound 3CM's loserness, this is yet another "absentee landlord" posting, so I won't be replying to comments right away.  However, the inimitable cfk (of Bookflurries fame) has graciously offered to mind the fort in my absence, so be nice to her :) .

Originally posted to chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 03:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, Progressive Hippie, and An Ear for Music.

Poll

During the summer, I set the A/C to:

12%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
12%1 votes
25%2 votes
25%2 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
25%2 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 8 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  so, from here.... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, cfk, aoeu, shari, Dumbo, x

    On Facebook recently, I saw some pictures from a friend's birthday party.  It then slowly dawned on me how many people I recognized in those pictures.  The thought then entered my head:  why wasn't I invited?  Given that 3CM is a loser, the question is rhetorical, of course.  But still....well, it's hard not to feel snubbed.  However, again, please read two sentences back.

    "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

    by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 03:01:20 PM PDT

  •  it's not quite saturday night here (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, aoeu, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, x

    camp prep, NN trip prep, and normal bedtime for the kids here tonight.  then i can watch doctor who.  

    •  Have fun at NN!!! (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw, aoeu, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, x

      I know you will.

      Even if my back would let me come, it turns out that Thursday is the dance recital for one grandbaby and Friday is the recital for two more.  

      My daughter and her family will be here for the weekend, too.

      But I am always wistful...would love to meet people in person.

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:21:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  took me a while to realize what you meant..... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, cfk, jlms qkw, x, aoeu

      .....until I saw the publication time of this diary, i.e. it went up immediately, rather than when I wanted it to.  Plus, it had that extraneous poll from the earlier draft.  Sometimes recycling doesn't work.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:28:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  on snubbing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, aoeu, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman

    the godfather of my children and longest friend here in utah has not invited me to his house since he got married.  i was over only a few times before he met his wife-to-be.  so i don't know if she doesn't like the kids and i.  i do know that her family comes over for easter.  

    •  That is really hard (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw, aoeu, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman

      We got snubbed once before we had even asked to be.

      We knew a couple with a child the age of our first son for many years.  We had just joined their church and hubby sang in the choir with the couple.

      The first thing she said to me at church was that she had all the friends she could handle along with working.

      I guess I was glad to know that before we invited them out, but...well...sad.  They were nice people so I was left wondering what was wrong with me.  :)

      Not fun.  I left that church 11 years ago...don't go anymore.

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:19:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember this from a while back..... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, cfk, jlms qkw, x

      .....in some of your posts.  Of course, what I'll simply do is continue to include those folks in my next mass get-together event, adopting the "blissful ignorance" pose.  We'll see what reaction occurs there.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:29:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  whew! (6+ / 0-)

    i was looking for this on the diaries page and couldn't find it.

    I thought maybe I had the time wrong and then decided to check ccc's page and here it was.

    Almost a loser...

    Greetings to all!!

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:11:02 PM PDT

  •  Talking to myself, again (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aoeu, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw

    can't get more loserly than that. :)

    But in case it strikes a bell with anyone else...

    I have been reading some good books and I am not in a hurry to finish them:

    Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino (pg. 370 of 713)                                                                                                                                                                             The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith (pg. 288 of 671)                                                                                                    
    New York by Edward Rutherford (pg. 240 of 860)

    The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (pg. 64 of 357)

    but I got so restless that I couldn't pick them up so I went to the library and found some mysteries...read three in a day or so...

    I will come back to these books shortly when my brain is sorted out instead of shorted out, but...

    in the meantime, I am going to pick up another mystery.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 06:29:39 PM PDT

    •  nice reading list (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, jlms qkw, aoeu, x

      I should mention one other tome that I started to dip into:  Praise of Folly by Erasmus.   Perhaps not a smart choice to read piecemeal :) .

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:42:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know more about how analog light meters work (5+ / 0-)

    on account of having purchased two of them in not quite working condition and taken them apart attempting repair. I can say with some authority that they will not be working at all in future.

  •  How big a loser is Rep. Weiner? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu

    Should he resign ASAP?   Isn't this a more interesting question than 2 weeks poll re setting of home A/C???????

    •  Oculus, you might like my reply to that (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu, x

      on a recent diary:

      * [new] Shit, I jerk off on the computer all the time. (3+ / 0-)

      I have nothing to complain about Weiner's behavior.  Fuck all this sanctimony.

      by Dumbo on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 04:00:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent | Reply to This ]

      •  question, though..... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw, Dumbo, aoeu, x

        What if a Republican had done the same thing as Rep. Weiner?

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:43:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then we could quite rightfully (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aoeu, chingchongchinaman, x

          mock them for being hypocrites.  However, being an unashamed internet masturbator, I find none of this particularly outrageous, but all of it very amusing.

          •  private acts are just that. The catch is that.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dumbo, x

            .....for good or ill, Weiner is a public figure, and when one becomes a public figure, like it or not, you can't just behave like an ordinary person privately, especially with lying scumbags like Breitbart waiting to take progressives down.  Plus, how stupid was that on Weiner's part to send stuff like that on the internets?  Breitbart got away with smearing ACORN and Shirley Sherrod, but it's worse that he actually got it right with Weiner, so he's inoculated at this point.

            "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

            by chingchongchinaman on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:39:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Re the Mahler Ninth: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu
    Someday, some real friends of Mahler's will ... take a pruning knife and reduce his works to the length that they would have been if the composer had not stretched them out of shape; and then the great Mahler war will be over ... The Ninth Symphony would last about twenty minutes.
    – Deems Taylor
    •  Grrrr... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu, x

      The noive of some people.

      One of the things that amazes me about Mahler and his oh-ever-so-long symphonies is just how little repetition there is in them.  Compare any of them to one of Bruckner's ninety minute snooze-fests, which were masterpieces of copy and paste.   Mahler was one very prolific composer.  There is more original music in one of his symphonies than the complete works of many other composers.

      •  am more of a Mahlerian than a Brucknerian.... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw, Dumbo, aoeu, oculus, x

        .....myself, although I've given Bruckner a shot when the opportunity has arisen for rare live performances.  With one exception, my prejudices haven't been overturned against Bruckner in that sense.  The one exception was a relatively rip-roaring performance of Bruckner 2 in Berlin some time back.

        Actually, in terms of absolute numbers of works, Mahler wasn't that prolific, compared to a Beethoven, Dvorak or Brahms.  And certain tics and motives do pop up in more than one work, though not nearly with the similarity of style in Bruckner.

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:47:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Did not realize Dale Clevenger (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu

    is still the principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Very long tenure.  Wonderful musician.  

    •  yup, he's still there..... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, jlms qkw, aoeu, oculus, x

      ......and John von Rhein has been digging at him for a while now to take the gold watch and retirement package in some of his reviews.  He lightened up a tad in the Mahler 9 review because Clevenger's wife died earlier this year.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:48:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Personal loser story of the week: (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu

    drive downtown (about 10 miles each way) for a 2:30 p.m., Tues., medical appointment.  Blank look from receptionist, who does a computer search and informs me appointment is for 2:30 p.m. on Thurs.  It's hell being retired!

  •  ccc...ideas for scheduling the next two weeks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu

    Put in the time as 9:00 PM since the schedules run on EDT

    and don't hit the BACK button.

    I did that once and had to redo my diary as it didn't come up and they said it had published.

    Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:14:55 PM PDT

    •  I thought I didn't hit the "Back" button..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, jlms qkw, aoeu

      ....then, but obviously will have to keep it in mind for the next 2 weeks.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:49:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK...just wanted to mention it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw, aoeu, chingchongchinaman

        because no matter what time it came up, it should have appeared on the diaries list.

        I got to thinking about the mess I made for myself and I blamed it on the back button at the time.

        This happened another time to Charlotte Lucas.  Her daughter had told me a rough estimate of time and I didn't find it until way too late.  I blamed it on the DK4 being new at the time...

        so maybe these things are still happening...

        Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

        by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:52:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  hmm, suppose so (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cfk

          Should I try again for 9 PM EDT (8 PM CDT) this Saturday night?  I realize that you said that you might have other committments, which if that's the case, I'll just put it at some semi-random time and let it dawdle there.

          "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

          by chingchongchinaman on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:36:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I may crash and burn (0+ / 0-)

            as I will have had three days of playing with grandchildren plus traveling to see them dance.

            I love them, but they wear me out.

            I guess that the random time is fine and if I do happen to be alive, I will look for you.

            Or maybe Dumbo would help out?

            It is cool to be able to send messages right here at DKos.
            I enabled the button on my edit profile page that sends them to my email and that works even better.

            Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

            by cfk on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 01:35:53 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  understood. Interesting to see who reacts.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cfk

              .....to the chosen topic, given that I know what it will be about, but I need to put it together, of course.  The catch is that what I really need to put it together won't happen until later this week.  Also, who knows if the DK gremlins won't still be at work for the next auto-posting.

              "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

              by chingchongchinaman on Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 10:10:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  That 3:17 climax... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, chingchongchinaman, jlms qkw, aoeu, x

    I love the stuff that leads up to it.  And you might call it a failed climax, or an anti-climax instead.  Because it starts out in such sheer ecstasy.  And Mahler has this way of using the loose nature of Wagnerian harmony to mix terror into his ecstasy.  

    So go to that second clip, and start it a couple of minutes earlier, about 1:34.  It's the same climactic, what I would call "heroic" segment that he used near the beginning of the symphony (first clip, 5:24 to 6:26).  Sort of the "second subject" of the movement, although it's not really sonata-form. That heroic theme is followed by the four-note timpani motif, as well, but, OH! what a huge difference between the first appearance of the heroic theme, and that last appearance.  

    And isn't it interesting how two-edged he makes that theme with his willy-nilly switching from major to minor?  It's like a microcosm of the whole symphony in the mixed messages it sends.  

  •  Just pigged out on some Ben and Jerry's (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chingchongchinaman, cfk, jlms qkw, aoeu, x

    Boston Creamcake Ice Cream.  Oh.... nice.  I'm a low-carber, so I don't do this, generally, but I got some for occasional nips, tasted it, and ended up snarfing it.

    Shit!  I only got nine comments in last Thursday's diary.  I have to reevaluate my approach.  Maybe Beethoven isn't in style this year.  Then again, I think the whole Dkos community is in decay at the moment, possibly a reflection of the moribund fate of the progressive movement of late.  I'm hoping things will pick up again when Keith Olberman returns Monday the 20th.

    I've been staring at my tomatoes, willing them to turn red faster.  So far, it hasn't worked.

    •  sympathy (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw, Dumbo, aoeu, chingchongchinaman, x

      I think people may be out playing because it is light later at night.  In the north where I live, the winter was especially bad and the spring very cold.  Everyone is eager to be out and about and then fall into bed.  

      Also we have been having t-storms where we had to log off.  For days at a time south of me and north of me.

      We lost our lights for a few hours early Wed. morning...just saying...there were many big trees down north of us, too.

      I do think there are fewer of names I recognize being here, too.  I miss them at Bookflurries.

      In your case, more people do read than you know, I expect, and are just unwilling or unable to reply, perhaps.  Some people lurk and don't even sign in to be counted.

      Join us at Bookflurries: Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

      by cfk on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:44:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  last night was a shockingly nice night..... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk, Dumbo, x

        .....given the threatening clouds earlier in the day, and the crazy weather we've been having for weeks.   Very good reason not to be on ther internet, for some :) .

        "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

        by chingchongchinaman on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:41:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  did notice the low turnout for your diary (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, jlms qkw, Dumbo, aoeu, x

      Of course, it doesn't help when one doofus NY Dem Representative f---s up the mood on our site.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:53:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love this. Beautiful. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, aoeu, chingchongchinaman

    GSA Making your School a Hate-Free Zone

    by x on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 12:43:01 AM PDT

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