A musician's testament: Themes of Catholicism in Part Two of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony
Tiemeyer, Robyn Morrison
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This study is intended to explore the spirituality of Gustav Mahler through his emphasis on Catholicism in his Eighth Symphony by relating those themes to other parts of Mahler's life, focusing on his use of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust as a basis for Part II of the "Symphony of A Thousand." Surprisingly, the conclusions on Mahler's spiritual beliefs do not come from his religious practices, but arise from exploring his personal relationships, testimony from his colleagues, and interpretations of Goethe's poetry. The first concern is Mahler's conversion from Judaism to Christianity in 1897, and how a majority of his biographers determine the motivation to be political rather than spiritual in order to obtain the post of Vienna Opera director. However, through research it is shown how both a sentimental appreciation and belief in Catholicism are held by Mahler and subsequently reflected in his compositions. Three main categories of Christianity are then discussed: the Catholic view of Woman and her three roles of mother, virgin, and queen; suffering and purification; and mysticism. Each part of Catholicism is then related to Mahler and Part II of his Eighth Symphony through some part of this life. The three roles of Woman are related to his relationship with his own mother, sister, and wife. His thoughts on suffering are compared to that of one of his favorite author, Fydor Dostoyevsky's, life and best known works, Crime and Punishment, specifically the comparison of Raskolnikov and Sonia's respective suffering. Finally, his fascination with mysticism is highlighted through man's transformation from natural to spiritual as it is recorded in the New Testament and how that is symbolic of Faust's evolving perspective. Supplemental topics discussed in this study are Mahler's earlier symphonies, his meeting with Sigmund Freud in 1910, Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy of the übermensch, the writings of C.S Lewis on mysticism, the Gospel of John, and Deryck Cooke's relation of Part I and Part II of the Eighth Symphony to Christianity's meaning of the Word and the Deed.
Thesis (M.Mus.)--Wichita State University, College of Fine Arts, School of Music
Includes bibliographic references (leaves 59-62)