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Gustave Mahler's Declaration of Love in the Adagietto Movement in his Fifth Symphony

By       Message Stephen Fox       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink

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Gergiev World Orchestra for Peace BBC Proms 2010

As Professor Geoff Kuenning of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont California wrote in 1994:

"Surely the most beautiful music the composer ever set to paper, it serves as perhaps the supreme example of Mahler's mastery of orchestration. Most of the orchestra is idled, but rather than choosing a conventional string ensemble, he adds a single harp to provide an underpinning of motion to the lazily soaring melody. This simple change is pure genius, producing a sonority that has never been matched before or since. Closing the eyes and relaxing in the concert hall, one can easily imagine a peaceful sunset in the mountains the composer loved, bringing a perfect end to the day's solitude and the last true happiness he would know."
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The Adagietto, the fourth movement of the Fifth Symphony is Mahler's most famous composition and is the most frequently performed of his works. It represents Mahler's Declaration of Love to his wife Alma, sent to her entirely without words, but later, according to a letter she wrote to Willem Mengelberg, the composer left a small poem:

Wie ich Dich liebe, Du meine Sonne,

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ich kann mit Worten Dir's nicht sagen.

Nur meine Sehnsucht kann ich Dir klagen

und meine Liebe, meine Wonne!"

[How much I love you, you my sun,

I cannot tell you that with words.

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I can only lament to you my longing

and my love, my bliss!]

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