The Meaning of Mimesis in the Poetics of Gustav Mahler

  • Mirjana Veselinović


The article "The Meaning of Mimesis in the Poetics of Gustav Mahler" puts forward one possible approach to his (symphonic) pieces. It is conceived on an analytical vertical which reaches behind the markedly mimetic contents of Mahler's music to its poetic level as represented by the very conception and procedure of creating, as well as to the level of its meaning in the sphere of the composer's life. The article goes on to explain Mahler's extending the notion of imitation through music so as to include in it not only acoustic natural phenomena but – indirectly – also visual ones, as well as phenomena from the realm of music itself (either Mahler's or someone else's) and other features of music at the level of style and type. All of them are imitated by the composer in a more or less equal manner: by means of analogy they are made to form the integrity of form, promoted by the composer's use of mimetic information as a unit of musical energy which provokes the growth of the musical piece. Turning to nature and music with equal freeness of action, Mahler showed a romantic tendency to seek projections of his own inner world, and on finding them in both, he would turn them back on to himself by constructing his very own sound essence on the basis of the use of both. The inner world the projection of which Mahler kept pursuing was essentialy romantic, but what he actually kept discovering was not a romantistic's mental stratum but his own expressionistic reinterpretation to which Mahler testified as a composer. For this reason this reinterpretation is argued here by certain proceedings at the level of compositional technique. However, this expressionistic potential is subjected to the romantic architectonics perceived in the sense of its self-negation. All the stated characteristics testify to the fact that Mahler's music is profoundly expressive: that by musical allusion to the extra-musical subject-matter he purposes to „involve“ the listener in the „story“ of his life. But again, this "story" reveals a relatively autonomous essence of Mahler's music which at the same time represents his inner quintessence.


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How to Cite
VeselinovićM. (1987). The Meaning of Mimesis in the Poetics of Gustav Mahler. Musicological Annual, 23(1), 79-88.