Balneus

Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Mahler warns about his music

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-05-07


The erudite and often hilarious Language Log demonstrates a bucket load of reasons why I (and perhaps anyone with an ear attuned to Bach) should hate Mahler.

"Mahler’s score markings" (2009-05-06) gives "accurate" translations of the directions in his manuscripts – which explains why Mahler sounds like Mahler does.

This covers a translation of various Mahler instructions by a professor of modern linguistics and second violinist in an orchestra – a translation also noted by the New Yorker music reviewer.

My anti-favorite because it makes no logical sense is:

Somewhat louder, though still inaudible as before

But the what-it-should-sound-like instructions are even more damning:

  • do not look at the conductor
  • with more intense inner torment
  • with indescribably horrific inner torment
  • From this point on, the spit valves should be emptied with ever-increasing emotion
  • with steadily decreasing competence
  • as if wild animals were gnawing on your liver

Yeah, they are unofficial and certainly not literal translations… but pretty darn accurate according to my ear.

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One Response to “Mahler warns about his music”

  1. Al said

    “do not look at the conductor”

    Top notch advice that.

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