Symphony No.4 in G Major – Third Movement

Listening Guide


The Work

Tempo: Ruhevoll (poco adagio) (restful).
Principal Key: G major
Time Signature: 4/4
Form: Double theme and variations (ABABA Coda)

1 comment

  1. Thank you for your very erudite analysis of Mahler’s 3rd Movement of his 4th Symphony. You made Mahler’s allusions to his own and others’ music explicit for me. The “resurrection” motif becomes ascension into heaven and “I am lost to the world” forgetting all earthy things.
    Early in the 1980’s I heard Leonard Bernstein conduct the Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic and a boy from the Vienna Boys Choir singing. The boy singing reminded me of my premonition of my young son’s death. Could it be that Mahler had a similar premonition of his daughter’s death? Since my daughter was studying ballet, I imagined a dance scenario.
    Forgetting All Earthly Things
    A Dance Scenario
    In Memory of my Son, Martin
    Music: Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 4, 3rd Movement (Ruhevoll)
    Setting: Maria Mahler’s bedroom with large window onto a clear night sky
    Cast: Maria, Alma, and Gustav Mahler
    Measure Number /Description of Action
    1 Evening star twinkles in night sky
    17 Gustav carries Maria, seemingly sleeping, into her room while Alma carries her doll
    31 Gustav places Maria on her bed, Alma puts the doll beside her, and both kiss her forehead
    37 Gustav and Alma walk to the window and hold each other as they watch a bright star
    45 Maria stirs and rises
    51 Maria approaches Alma
    60 Alma does not respond to Maria as if she is not there
    67 Maria pleads for attention
    75 Alma still does not respond, turns and leaves the room
    81 Maria turns to Gustav
    85 Gustav does not respond to Maria as if she is not there
    89 Gustav turns away from Maria
    90 Gustav leaves the room
    97 The star begins to descend as Maria clutches her doll
    107 Maria tries to forget her loneliness and dances with her doll
    171 The star brightens and Maria drops he doll and takes notice
    184 The star continues to descend toward Maria
    188 Maria becomes frightened and pleads for the star to stop
    192 The star continues its descent
    202 Maria begins to understand why the star is descending toward her
    205 Maria pleads even more passionately for the star to stop approaching
    210 In tears, Maria picks up her doll to console herself
    222 Maria tries to ignore her awakening understanding of the star’s approach
    283 The star, now very close to Ann Maria, insists that she stop resisting
    288 Maria reluctantly yields
    296 Maria admires herself in the stars light as the star reassures her
    307 Reassured, Maria approaches the star
    315 The star engulfs Maria in dazzling bursts of light
    326 The star returns with Maria to the night sky
    338 The star gradually disappears at first light

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