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Write an essay commenting on harmony, motive, thematic development, orchestration (and anything else you can think of) in Mahler's Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n.

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Introduction

Romantic Song: Assignment Four Write an essay commenting on harmony, motive, thematic development, orchestration (and anything else you can think of) in Mahler's Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was a great admirer of Wagner, and when he came to write his Kindertotenlieder in 1901-1904 he created chromatic harmony indicative of post-Wagnerian trends. He was haunted by superstition and myth; for example, he believed he would die after writing his ninth symphony because Beethoven did, and postponed writing it, calling it Das Lied von der Erde in an effort to avoid the 'curse' as he saw it. When he wrote his Kindertotenlieder, his wife actively discouraged him from the undertaking as she was under the superstition, influenced by her husband, that life imitates art. Surely enough, soon after the completion of the cycle, Mahler's children drowned in an unexplained accident. His wife never forgave him, as she blamed him for tempting fate and writing the cycle. The text is by Friedrich R�ckert, and tells of the pain over the death of the singer's child. The first song, Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n, is sung during sunrise the morning after the child's death. ...read more.

Middle

Mahler has altered the text at bars11-12; he repeats the words 'kein Ungl�ck', emphasising the irony of the happy sun, as if no unhappiness occurs, which of course it has in the death of the child. Section A2, at the upbeat to bar 22, begins with the same oboe solo as section A did, and the structure is very similar, but with thicker orchestration building up the texture. The flute and Bb clarinet have contrapuntal crotchet lines, and the French Horn has a sustained note through to the harp and strings entry at bar 32. The vocal line here is slightly less elaborate than it was in A, and the rising chromatic line of 32-34 augments the idea of the sun rising and its link to happiness. This is reiterated by the fact that 'die Sonne' is repeated in bars 32-33. The string parts have adopted a rising chromatic line, with the viola doubling the voice and the orchestration thickening up through the section with the addition of Violin II. The link between the end of the voice and the beginning of the next section is shorter this time; it is only four bars long, whereas the previous link was six bars. ...read more.

Conclusion

for the final chord. In conclusion, this song contains many good examples of Mahler's use of harmony, motive and orchestration. He uses a definite structure to divide it into sections and also to emphasise the more important parts of the text, such as the third stanza. The re-use of material, such as the mournful oboe solo and the simple vocal line, give a feeling of unity and create the mood that Mahler wants. Orchestration is used to great effect, such as the oboe solo already mentioned, and in layering, i.e. building up and taking away, achieving dynamic changes by use of instruments instead of dynamics. The use of different textures between instruments, such as chromatic counterpoint in the wind contrasting with quaver accompaniment in the strings, gives variety in the sparse transparent landscape. This bareness adds to the desolation that the composer is trying to convey; while the singer/poet is trying to be positive and embrace the good, the composer is aware that this is highly ironic and the speaker must be absolutely devastated. The thing that makes this song so special is the use of very little to create such a wave of emotion, because, quite fittingly, it is what has been taken away, what is no longer there, that is creating these overwhelming feelings of despair and misery. 1589 words. ...read more.

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