Controversy surrounds the music of Gustav Mahler, with one great example being his Kindertotenlieder (“Songs on the Death of Children”). Mahler first began work on this orchestral song cycle in 1901. An orchestral song cycle is a group of songs meant for performance as a unit and accompanied by an orchestra. The texts that Mahler chose for his song cycle were taken from poems by Friedrich Rueckert, who originally wrote these poems along with many others as a form of mourning the death of his children. Mahler felt a special connection to the poetry as one of Rueckert’s children (Ernst) shared a name with his deceased brother.
Not long after he began work on Kindertotenlieder, Mahler met the woman who would become his wife the following year. His marriage to Alma Mahler and the birth of two daughters fairly quickly would change the circumstances surrounding his song cycle, resulting in a strong difference in opinion between the composer and his new bride and a haunting story for the Mahler family.
Join me on Wednesday for more on the eerie tale surrounding Kindertotenlieder.