Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World

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9780571260782: Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World
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A century after his death, Gustav Mahler is the most important composer of modern times. Displacing Beethoven as a box-office draw, his music offers more than the usual listening satisfactions. Many believe it has the power to heal emotional wounds and ease the pain of death. Others struggle with the intellectual fascination of its contradictory meanings. Long, loud and seldom easy, his symphonies are used to accompany acts of mourning and Hollywood melodramas. Sometimes dismissed as death-obsessed, Mahler is more alive in the 21st century than ever before.

Why Mahler? Why does a Jewish musician from a land without a name capture the yearnings and anxieties of post-industrial society? Is it the music, it is the man, or is it the affinity we feel with his productive peak - a decade when Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Joyce and Mahler reconfigured the ways we understand life on earth?

In this highly original account of Mahler's life and work, Norman Lebrecht - renowned writer, critic and cultural commentator - explores the Mahler Effect, a phenomenon that reaches deep into unsuspecting lives, altering the self-perceptions of world leaders, finance chiefs and working musicians. Why Mahler? is a multi-layered exploration of the role that music plays as a soundtrack to our lives.

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'This incisive account of the composer's life and work reveals the ways in which his music still permeates 21st century life.' -- The Times >> 'Why Mahler indeed? Because, argues Norman Lebrecht in this erudite, passionate study, his music has the power to transform human lives. Not every civilised person is susceptible to Mahler, Lebrecht acknowledges before writing so lyrically about Mahler s songs and symphonies that you want to rush out and buy the lot. The book brilliantly blends scholarship and personal reminiscence to justify its claim that Mahler is the most important composer of modern times.' -- Sunday Telegraph >> 'Part biography, part critical appreciation, part highly personal tribute, there's a degree of structural eccentricity to Why Mahler? that, like one of the legend's symphonies, keeps you on your toes ... Though gushing, even hyperbolic, at times, this is a book of enormous passion and persuasive power.' -- Editor's Choice, Classic FM magazine >> 'An accessible introduction as well as a heartfelt attempt to answer the question of Mahler's enduring appeal.' -- Sunday Times >> 'Norman Lebrecht's characteristically turbo-charged account of the Mahler phenomenon seeks answers to the question of precisely what it is about Mahler that so transfixes the modern psyche ... Weaving in personal reminiscence and anecdote, he creates a highly unconventional but richly detailed collage that draws deeply on his own experience as an editor, researcher and Jew. Indeed, some of the most valuable insights stem from Lebrecht's identification with Mahler's Jewish identity.' -- The Scotsman >> 'Why Mahler? ... sparked lively fury and debate - rare for a book on music.' --Observer

A fan text for Mahler fans.' -- Guardian >> 'A fascinating, passionate, fast-paced book.' -- --Irish Times

'Compelling book ... [Lebrecht] makes a forbidding subject seem approachable.' --Independent on Sunday

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9780571260799: Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World

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ISBN 10:  0571260799 ISBN 13:  9780571260799
Publisher: Faber and Faber, 2011
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