Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night: The Farewell By Gustav Mahler

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Topics: Orchestra
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
--An Analysis of Das Lied von der Erde IV, "The Farewell" by Gustav Mahler
As the last completed symphony composed by Gustav Mahler, “Der Abschied” (The Farewell) is often celebrated and adored by the personal message delivered through the music by Mahler. This essay, through decoding the lyrics and analyzing the music, attempts to translate Mahler’s bravery facing death, his linger on the dying life, and his epic legacy that makes him immortal in human history.
At the first glance of the lyrics, they seem to be narrating an outdoor scenery at dawn and then a cooling night after the sun departs; yet as reading continues, we the audience will learn that this story not only about the sun’s farewell to a day, but rather a friend’s farewell to another. Combining the composing background of Mahler’s waning health, we can infer that this is his farewell to life. Originated translated from and inspired by Chinese poetries, Der Abschied (the Farewell) portraits a silent night in a grassland where the author waits for his friend and sees him off. The story begins with a sunset view: valleys cooling off, a crescent moon rising, surroundings quiet down as animals return to nests and hence a running creek (“brook”) can be heard, flowers dwindle as photosynthetic activities
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Such “chamber music” completes the finale with rich texture: the flute is like bird chirping in the Spring, the horn-call is like the grand nature, and the basses is the solid ground that carries life. As “ewig” echoes, the music fades gradually instead of significant ending, symbolizing the music continues in another world and Mahler’s hope for eternity beyond this

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