Symphonic Metamorphoses

Subjectivity and Alienation in Mahler’s Re-Cycled Songs

Raymond Knapp

This revelatory new book takes readers far beyond most existing critical analyses of Mahler’s work, escaping the tiring traps of broad historical survey and formalist plot summary. Symphonic Metamorphoses considers Mahler’s early practice of basing his symphonies on pre-existing songs and elaborates on how this practice informs the techniques and tropes of Mahler’s music-cultural discourse, involving montage, social satire, subjectivity, autonomy, alienation, childhood, absolute music, time and cosmology. Raymond Knapp explores these themes with persuasive readings backed by impeccable scholarship, providing insights into the organic link between Mahler’s music and his historic-cultural sphere.

Knapp’s look at Mahler is unique in terms of both the depth of its inquiry and the freshness of its approach. Symphonic Metamorphoses is a graceful and vital addition to Mahler studies and to musicological studies in general.

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