‘O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!’ (2)


Well, it’s not often that I manage to put out two postings in one day; but thanks to the amazing response there has been to my previous one — that tiny, largely pictorial, commemoration of Gustav Mahler’s death 105 years ago today — I’m uploading another a few minutes before midnight…

What happened after that last posting went up — just before I left the office! — was that it immediately hurtled round the world (US, Brazil, Canada, Greece, France, Mexico…), rapidly reaching thousands of readers (see how widely loved Mahler is…?), and also provoking a few interesting reactions from Mahlerians some of whom live vast distances away from here…

And it’s four of these reactions — two public, two private — that I want to deal with, here and now, before bedtime…

First of all, there was the friend who got in touch to say how much she liked that bust of Mahler in the Vienna Staatsoper —  so here’s another photo of it that I found online…


Secondly, there was that ‘Comment’ from Paul West (who I sometimes see posting in a Mahler group on Facebook), kindly offering his own photo of Mahler’s grave. I wouldn’t dream of turning down such a super pic, so here it is:

mahler grave paul west

Thirdly, there was the pal of mine who emailed to ask why I didn’t post a link to ‘the tiny piano piece that Schoenberg wrote as an evocation of Mahler’s funeral’. As it happens, I had thought about doing it, but decided not to — for two reasons. First, I expected everyone to want to listen to the Adagietto recording, rather than to something Mahler didn’t write. Secondly, I don’t know of any actual ‘primary source’ in which Schoenberg can be found declaring that this piece is connected with the funeral — only lots of secondary sources that claim it is and he did. Not that I disagree with any of them; I simply didn’t want to complicate a posting about Mahler by dragging in unconnected issues.

Of course, neither of those reasons prevents me including the piece here, so my third ‘addendum’ to that previous posting is to re-present Schoenberg’s 1911 oil-on-canvas painting — its actual title is ‘The Burial of Gustav Mahler’ — together with a coded link to the 9-bars(!) of music published simply as ‘Op. 19, No. 6’.

So, here’s  the piano piece (accompanied by scans of Schoenberg’s actual manuscript):

And here’s the painting again:


Of course, delighted though I am to be able to include Schoenberg piano piece here, I don’t really think it would be right to end a posting about Mahler’s death and funeral with a piece of music by someone else — so here is an extract from a Mahler piece which I think makes the best conclusion imaginable.

This is prompted by the ‘Comment’ in which my good friend David Matthews refers to playing the end of the 1952 Bruno Walter recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (‘The Song of the Earth’) at a family funeral. What I’ve done is coded up a link to the final 20 minutes of the sixth and final song, Der Abschied (‘The Farewell’) — and also scanned a translation of the words you hear sung, so that everyone’s conceptual intellect will be on the same wavelength as the musically receptive part of their psyche… You may even want to follow the lines as they go past in German: I don’t think it’s too hard, even if you don’t speak German…

I think that’s all you need from me.

das lied text


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One thought on “‘O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!’ (2)

  1. Like so many youngsters, I learned the Schoenberg op. 19 pieces at school – at an age when I couldn’t really understand or appreciate them. I haven’t played them myself since – there are others who do so much better than I ever could. But no. 6 is a gem of a miniature. So much contained in so little.

    Liked by 1 person

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