He's more than a bunch of symphonies and songs. Even those are not what you think. And although the music stopped with his death in 1911—100 years later, his time is now. During four months of concerts, jam sessions, conversation, and film, free your mind about what Mahler really means.
Today's symposium, moderated by NEC music history chair Katarina Markovic, brings together experts on the issues that connect Mahler's concerns with our own time: Stephen Dowden from Brandeis University, Sander Gilman from Emory University, Vera Micznik from University of British Columbia, and Matthias Theodor Vogt from Goerlitz University, Germany.
Katarina Markovic explains the basis of this symposium:
Neither as a man, nor in his music was Gustav Mahler homogeneous, unified, "logical" in a 19th-century, Western European cultural sense. In his music, various, often contrasting elements are juxtaposed without transition, sometimes even overlapping in time, revealing an inner world where the synchronicity of hurdy-gurdy tunes, Wagner's Parsifal, Viennese waltzes, Bach's fugues, folk and children's songs, and Beethoven's quartets are all part of the same human experience, all partaking in the creation of a "World with all available means."
This symposium, assembling some of the most interesting scholars working on Mahler, fin-de-siècle German, and contemporary culture will aim to address the multilayered-ness and intertextuality of his music, showing him—as well as his music—as a truly modern man, our contemporary. Resonating with the main idea of the NEC Mahler celebration as a whole—"100 years later, his time is now"—this symposium will focus on the premise that our time is the right time for Mahler: issues that he was grappling with (questions of identity, religion, intolerance, self-hatred, sexuality, race, repression) were unnoted and misunderstood in his time, but today are issues at the forefront of our modern consciousness.
Stephen Dowden: "How Viennese Is Mahler's Modernism?"
Dowden teaches courses on German and European modernism at Brandeis.
Sander Gilman: "Mind the Music: Jews, Music and Modernity"
Gilman's wide-ranging areas of expertise include Jewish Self-Hatred, the title of his foundational monograph from 1986.
Katarina Markovic teaches NEC's courses on Mahler and fin-de-siècle Vienna.
Read her essay "100 Years Later, His Time Is Now."
Vera Micznik: "Reception as Explanatory Tool of Historical Contemporaneity in Mahler's Fourth Symphony"
Micznik's extensive writings on Mahler and narrativity include her doctoral dissertation, "Meaning in Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony." Her article "Music and Narrative Revisited: Degrees of Narrativity in Beethoven and Mahler" is available as a PDF here.
Matthias Theodor Vogt: "Mahler Our Contemporary—The Theatre Man"
Vogt, former Bayreuth dramaturg, has organized numerous festivals and symposiums and written articles on Mahler, contemporary music, and cultural politics.