Mahler Sinfonie nr 6

I wrote earlier about the symphony and this recording. This is exactly the same recording, just the earlier published version of it. On all the versions of this recording the same painting is shown, but I must say, the cover that is shown on Spotify takes the cake. It’s a painting by symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin called Villa am Mer.

This Arnold is better known for his painting Isle of the dead (Toteninsel) from 1880-1886. In 1909 Rachmaninoff would write a symphonic poem inspired by the painting. Toteninsel shows an island with a boat in front. In the boat someone clad in white is standing. This man looks like Charon, taking souls to the underworld over the river Styx. This might be autobiographical: Arnold lost eight of his fourteen children.

And that is where a connection with the symphony lies: it is also called Tragic (Tragische), because it is the only one Mahler wrote that has no escape. Mahler was not unknown to depressive music, but there is always an escape out of the darkness. Here there is not, the depressive mood lasts until the last note, in minor key. Mahler lost his daughter that year, and he heard that he was suffering from a heart condition.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *