The Drinking Song of Earth’s Misery / Gustav Mahler
Even though the title could sound like I am about to jump off a window after a long nocturnal confusion, no need to worry, my soul has been fed positive esthetism. I never got to share the outrageous beauty of this post romanticism oeuvre d’art by jewish Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. Though many so called music historians dig into the life of artists with not much finesse, expecting to find in every work of every composer a simple relation to their experience, it is often more intricated than what it seems. But when it comes to the Songs of the Earth of Gustav Mahler, a four movements piece for 2 voices and orchestra the message of sadness, despair and hope could not be more clearly related to his own life and experience.
A year before the composition (1908-1909) Mahler was pushed to resign his post as Director of the Vienna Court Opera, through political intrigue partly involving anti-semitism. His eldest daughter Maria died from scarlet fever, and in addition, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. The same year Gustav Mahler wrote to his friend Bruno Walter, “I have lost everything I have gained in terms of who I thought I was, and have to learn my first steps again like a newborn”.
Continually returning to the refrain, based on a poem by famous Tang dynasty wandering poet Li-Bay, this first movement is known to singer for being on of the most demanding piece of the repertoire. Lets leave behind all explaination or further analyse to get to the core of the emotion, shall we?