Mahler’s Adagietto<br />A Listening Guide<br />RSNO Maestro Music 2011<br />
In this presentation, we will listen to the ‘Adagietto’ from Mahler’s Symphony No5<br />We will learn some background info...
Before reading any more, LISTEN to the first couple of minutes of the music<br />Before your mind has chance to wander, no...
The good news is, there is no right or wrong answer!<br />Listening to music is such a personal experience, often your rea...
Most often the answer is yes<br />The following points illustrate how knowing a little about the music can help inform our...
	If it was written for or about a particular person</li></ul>Does it help to know a bit of background information when lis...
Knowing some background can also help inform our intellectual response to the music:<br /><ul><li>	If we know the historic...
<ul><li>	It can be useful to understand some technical aspects</li></ul>in order to appreciate some of the detail in the m...
The Adagietto is the fourth movement of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (there are five movements altogether), but is often perfor...
Some Background Information<br />Its use in the film is not the only sorrowful association the Adagietto has had in its hi...
Some Background Information<br />The Symphony was finished in 1902 after Mahler had spent an idyllic summer with his new w...
Despite finishing the entire symphony after their marriage, the Adagietto itself was written just before the Mahlers tied ...
As already mentioned, everybody instinctively responds differently to a piece of music they have never heard before, partl...
The one other big influence on how listeners respond to the music is the way it has been performed since it was written<br...
When Mahler wrote it, conductors such as Mengelberg, and Bruno Walter, both of whom knew Mahler, conducted a much faster t...
Three of the world’s most famous conductors made recordings that were up to double that length: 11 minutes 50 seconds (Her...
The Adagietto, unusually and unlike the rest of the symphony, is written just for the string section of the orchestra<br /...
Not all composers might have included<br />the harp in a piece for the string section of <br />the orchestra<br />But imag...
Listen carefully to the first few notes of the tune in the violins<br />Once the stage has been set by held chords in the ...
There is another detail to listen out for in this first phrase, something that recurs throughout this piece<br />Can you h...
Sometimes the held note is a low one at the bottom of the texture, sometimes it is in the middle, and sometimes it is at t...
Does it help your appreciation of music to see it being performed live?<br />Yes!<br /><ul><li>You can feel the physical v...
<ul><li>You can hear the strength of sound that individual instruments or groups of instruments can make and that can be p...
While watching an orchestra play, rather than just listening, everything is heightened: when you can actually see someone ...
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Listening

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Listen to Mahler's Adagietto from his Symphony No5 and explpore the piece in greater detail.

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Listening

  1. 1. Mahler’s Adagietto<br />A Listening Guide<br />RSNO Maestro Music 2011<br />
  2. 2. In this presentation, we will listen to the ‘Adagietto’ from Mahler’s Symphony No5<br />We will learn some background information about the piece and how it has been interpreted by different artists throughout history<br />We will then explore the piece in greater detail, and be given some specific musical aspects to listen for in the piece<br />After exploring the ideas in this presentation and listening to different recordings of the piece, we will hear the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform it live at a Maestro Music concert!<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />2<br />Intended Learning<br />
  3. 3. Before reading any more, LISTEN to the first couple of minutes of the music<br />Before your mind has chance to wander, notice your immediate reaction to the sound Mahler created<br />Try to think of a few words to describe how you think the music sounds<br />Do you think it is…. Beautiful? Sad? Contemplative? Uplifting? Tender? Yearning? Tranquil? Or something else entirely?<br />Listen!<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />3<br />
  4. 4. The good news is, there is no right or wrong answer!<br />Listening to music is such a personal experience, often your reaction will be quite different from someone else’s<br />Generally speaking, composers are not trying to force particular emotions from you<br />They may have been thinking of the music in one way themselves, but that does not necessarily mean everybody who listens to it will think of it in the same way<br />Indeed, there have been some very different reactions to this very piece of music<br />Listen!<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />4<br />
  5. 5. Most often the answer is yes<br />The following points illustrate how knowing a little about the music can help inform our emotional response to it:<br /><ul><li>If the music is about something (this is known as</li></ul>having a programme)<br /><ul><li> If it was written in a particular social/political</li></ul>context <br /><ul><li> If it was written in memory of a person/event
  6. 6. If it was written for or about a particular person</li></ul>Does it help to know a bit of background information when listening to music? <br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />5<br />
  7. 7. Knowing some background can also help inform our intellectual response to the music:<br /><ul><li> If we know the historical context in which the</li></ul>music was written, i.e., whether it is Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th or 21st Century, we can<br />gain a better understanding of why the<br />composer might have written in such a way<br /><ul><li> It is also helps us to appreciate in which ways</li></ul>the composer was being innovative, making and<br />breaking rules<br />Does it help to know a bit of background information when listening to music? <br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />6<br />
  8. 8. <ul><li> It can be useful to understand some technical aspects</li></ul>in order to appreciate some of the detail in the music<br /><ul><li> For example: the use of colour, timbreand</li></ul>dissonances such as added 6ths or 7ths<br />Does it help to know a bit of background information when listening to music? <br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />7<br />
  9. 9. The Adagietto is the fourth movement of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (there are five movements altogether), but is often performed alone<br />‘Adagietto’ is a tempo marking meaning slow (but not necessarily as slow as an ‘adagio’)<br />The movement has inspired more than twenty choreographers to create ballets to it and has been used in several films, most famously Death in Venice, in which it provided a melancholy backdrop to the sad story<br />Some Background Information<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />8<br />
  10. 10. Some Background Information<br />Its use in the film is not the only sorrowful association the Adagietto has had in its history. It was also conducted by Leonard Bernstein at the assassinated senator Robert Kennedy’s funeral.<br />Image source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rfk/gallery/images/g_08.jpg<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />9<br />
  11. 11. Some Background Information<br />The Symphony was finished in 1902 after Mahler had spent an idyllic summer with his new wife Alma at his country retreat in Austria. Far removed from the melancholic associations it has now, it is likely that Mahler intended the music to have a different feeling altogether.<br />Image source: http://media.keepingscore.org/mahler/photos/steinbach_hut_296px.jpg<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />10<br />
  12. 12. Despite finishing the entire symphony after their marriage, the Adagietto itself was written just before the Mahlers tied the knot, at the very time the composer was falling in love<br />He was an extensive letter writer throughout his life, not least during his ‘courtship’ with Alma, and many believe that the Adagietto was written as a kind of love letter to her<br />Willem Mengelberg, a conductor who was close to Mahler, wrote on his score that the piece was a ‘declaration of love’<br />Certainly it is very tender, and can be heard as a documentation of all the feelings involved in falling in love – the tenderness, the passion, the angst and longing, the peacefulness…<br />Some Background Information<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />11<br />
  13. 13. As already mentioned, everybody instinctively responds differently to a piece of music they have never heard before, partly as a result of their current mood or what ‘buttons it pushes’ in them<br />Once a piece of music is heard in a particular context (such as in a film), it is difficult to forget that association<br />That is not a bad thing as such – in fact it can increase your attachment to a piece in a very personal way – but it does highlight how important it is to listen to a piece such as this before becoming biased by knowledge or associations!<br />So what brought about the huge discrepancy in how the music is heard by listeners?<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />12<br />
  14. 14. The one other big influence on how listeners respond to the music is the way it has been performed since it was written<br />In the case of the Adagietto, the speed that conductors have chosen to conduct it has varied enormously, and that has repercussions on how we hear it<br />So what brought about the huge discrepancy in how the music is heard by listeners?<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />13<br />
  15. 15. When Mahler wrote it, conductors such as Mengelberg, and Bruno Walter, both of whom knew Mahler, conducted a much faster tempo than their successors<br />Mengelberg’sfirst recording of the piece lasts just 7 minutes, while Walter’s is a little slower at nearly 8 minutes<br />But by the 1970s conductors were wallowing in the music much more<br />So what brought about the huge discrepancy in how the music is heard by listeners?<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />14<br />
  16. 16. Three of the world’s most famous conductors made recordings that were up to double that length: 11 minutes 50 seconds (Herbert von Karajan, 1973), 11 minutes (Leonard Bernstein, 1987) and nearly 14 minutes (Bernard Haitink, 1988)!<br />Conductors nowadays seem to be returning to a quicker tempo<br />Simon Rattle’s 2002 recording, for example, stands at 9 minutes 30<br />Try and look up a few different recordings on itunes or youtube to compare speeds and notice how the slow ones have a completely different feeling to the faster ones<br />So what brought about the huge discrepancy in how the music is heard by listeners?<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />15<br />
  17. 17. The Adagietto, unusually and unlike the rest of the symphony, is written just for the string section of the orchestra<br />This means that the timbre is very unified<br />When the musical line passes between instruments it does so seamlessly<br />So instead of showing contrasts between different instrumental sections, Mahler has to find more subtle contrasts elsewhere<br />This creates a sense of serenity, of nothing disturbing the music or taking us by surprise too much<br />A More Detailed Analysis<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />16<br />
  18. 18. Not all composers might have included<br />the harp in a piece for the string section of <br />the orchestra<br />But imagine the piece without the<br />addition of the harp<br />Would it sound more one-dimensional?<br />Certainly the harp helps give a feeling of<br />constant motion in an otherwise fairly static soundscape<br />A More Detailed Analysis<br />Image source: http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/4700/4709/harp_1_lg.gif<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />17<br />
  19. 19. Listen carefully to the first few notes of the tune in the violins<br />Once the stage has been set by held chords in the rest of the strings, the violins simply play the first three notes of a major scale<br />It is such a simple way to open the piece, yet it is very effective<br />The rising scale feels like it is leading somewhere, but when we get to the fourth note, rather than playing the next note in the scale as expected, the third is repeated again, before eventually resolving on to the fourth note<br />This is called a ‘suspension’ – it literally does suspend expectations for a moment!<br />A More Detailed Analysis<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />18<br />
  20. 20. There is another detail to listen out for in this first phrase, something that recurs throughout this piece<br />Can you hear underneath the violin tune that one single note is being held throughout the phrase?<br />At first this creates a feeling of stability, but it can go on to create a sense of tension: while the other parts are gradually changing the harmonies and creating melodies, it becomes more noticeable that the held note needs to change, to resolve<br />It is a trick that Mahler used repeatedly in the Adagietto<br />A More Detailed Analysis<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />19<br />
  21. 21. Sometimes the held note is a low one at the bottom of the texture, sometimes it is in the middle, and sometimes it is at the top<br />There is a beautiful moment near the end when the music has been building in tension for a while, and the violins suddenly jump to a very high note and hold it while the other instruments continue the line underneath<br />When they eventually release the top note and work their way down again, it signals a return a calmer feel, which is how the music ends<br />Listen out for other examples of long held notes somewhere in the texture<br />A More Detailed Analysis<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />20<br />
  22. 22. Does it help your appreciation of music to see it being performed live?<br />Yes!<br /><ul><li>You can feel the physical vibrations! That can give you a sense of being a part of the performance rather than just simply listening to it (if you’ve ever stood near a speaker at a rock/pop concert you’ll know the feeling!)</li></ul>Live Performance<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />21<br />
  23. 23. <ul><li>You can hear the strength of sound that individual instruments or groups of instruments can make and that can be pretty powerful
  24. 24. While watching an orchestra play, rather than just listening, everything is heightened: when you can actually see someone playing very loud or very quiet and what goes in to that, it becomes much more effective
  25. 25. Visual reminders of particular parts of the music help you recall the music more than if you had simply listened to a recording</li></ul>Live Performance<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />22<br />
  26. 26. So, enjoy some recordings, then come to see it being performed live! <br />Live Performance<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />23<br />
  27. 27. Having reflected on my personal experiences, including participation and engagement with professionals, I can listen to a wide range of music and identify and analyse technical aspects, make informed judgements and express personal opinions on my own and others’ work [EXA 4-19a]<br />Copyright Sophie Lang 2011<br />24<br />Experiences and Outcomes<br />

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