"It is my very self!": Mahler's Brush with Death, the Intentional Fallacy, and Motivic Unification of "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" and the Adagietto
Smith, Tyler J.
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In the early part of 1901, Gustav Mahler suffered a severe hemorrhage, resulting in a nearly fatal brush with death. Surviving this ordeal produced in Mahler an acute awareness of his own mortality, leaving the composer fixated on the pursuit of the young Alma Schindler and, more specifically, on having children. This paper will address the psychology of Mahler during the summer of 1901, with a precursory discussion of the Intentional Fallacy. Mahler's summer holiday proved to be among the most productive in his career, and I will discuss the manner in which his nearness to death earlier that year led to this heightened productivity. Focusing explicitly on the works, 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen' and the "Adagietto" from the Fifth symphony, I will illustrate motivic linkages borne from this prolific summer holiday.