Why Mahler? Norman Lebrecht and the Construction of Jewish Genius

Brenton Sanderson

2011 marks the centenary of the death of Gustav Mahler. This follows last year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s birth. In addition to an upsurge in performances of Mahler’s works by orchestras around the world, last year also saw the release of a second book about Mahler by the journalist and music critic Norman Lebrecht entitled: Why Mahler? How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World. This book is the latest in a long line of encomiums by Jewish music critics and intellectuals that have transformed Mahler’s image from that of a relatively minor figure in the history of classical music at mid-Twentieth Century, into the cultural icon of today. Lebrecht wants his latest work to ‘address the riddle of why Mahler had risen, from near oblivion, to displace Beethoven as the most popular and influential symphonist of our age.’[1]

Like his previous book about Mahler (Mahler Remembered) the focus here is on alerting us to fact of Mahler’s towering genius, and how this genius was inextricably bound up with his identity as a Jew. Overlaying this, as ever, is the lachrymose vision of Mahler the saintly Jewish victim of gentile injustice. Lebrecht’s new book is another reminder of how Jewish intellectuals have used their privileged status as self-appointed gatekeepers of Western culture to advance their group interests through the way they conceptualize the respective artistic achievements of Jews and Europeans.


Norman Lebrecht

Through stressing, as Lebrecht does, the Jewish origins of figures like Mahler, Jewish intellectuals have made them personifications of a specifically Jewish genius (‘Einstein’ did not become a synonym for ‘genius’ by accident). All of the Jewish intellectual gurus discussed in The Culture of Critique had their legions of Jewish acolytes in the academic world and in the media, and they were strongly supported by the wider Jewish community (summarized here, especially pp. 231-232). This betokens an acknowledgement of the importance of ethnic role models in the promotion of ethnic pride and group cohesion, and how ethnocentric Jews, like Lebrecht, have hyped the former to promote the latter. This form of Jewish intellectual activity is clearly directed at influencing ‘social categorization processes in a manner that benefits Jews.’[2]

Constructing Mahler as Jewish Genius

The clear tendency among Jewish intellectuals has been for Jewish achievement to be overstated and particularized and made a locus for ethnic pride. Meanwhile, European achievement is downplayed, or where undeniable, universalized and thereby neutralized as a potential basis for White pride and group cohesion. Accordingly, the racial origins of Shakespeare are de-emphasized (scarcely an Englishman or European) and he is instead held up as an exemplar of a ‘universal human genius’ whose astonishing abilities are supposedly latent in all branches of human family (see, for example, Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human). The alternative approach has been to claim that Shakespeare’s works were actually written by a Jewish woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier. Contrastingly, Mahler’s achievement is held to be specifically and inseparably Jewish, and a reflection of Jewish intellectual brilliance.

This raging hypocrisy is bad enough. However, the duplicity is made the worse by the vast cognitive dissonance involved in simultaneously denying the reality of a collective White racial achievement, while stridently affirming the reality of a collective intergenerational guilt that must urgently be instilled in all White people. Intellectual consistency is ostensibly less important here than spreading the meme that: Whites can only be criticized as a group, never praised — while non-Whites (especially Jews) can only be praised as a group, never criticized.

Gustav Mahler

The cult of Mahler since the sixties is an object lesson in the role of Jewish ethnic networking and ethnocentrism in the construction of what now passes for Western culture. Lebrecht openly acknowledges that the core of Mahler’s support, even during his own lifetime, had a foundation in Jewish ethnic networks. He points out that: ‘Not just in Berlin… but in Hamburg, Munich, Leipzig and Vienna, the Jewish middle classes formed the core of Mahler’s audience… Mahler would have known, much as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth did in Chicago and New York, that there were people who queued up for his next work. They might not understand it or even like it, but they demanded the installment as of right, as their stake in his story. It was this public that gave Mahler the confidence, in the face of racist opposition, to carry on composing.’[3] Mahler’s core group of friends, associates and supporters were no exception. Mahler’s wife to be, Alma Schindler, noted in her diary that Mahler’s friends were ‘all conspicuously Jewish’.[4] From then to now the propagation of the cult of Mahler has been predominantly a Jewish affair.

Leonard Bernstein

Perhaps the most prominent and influential proponent of the ‘Mahler as Jewish genius’ trope was Leonard Bernstein who attributed to the composer superhuman powers of prophecy. In 1967 he claimed that it is ‘only after we have experienced all this through the smoking ovens of Auschwitz, the frantically bombed jungles of Vietnam, through Hungary, Suez, the Bay of Pigs, the farce-trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel, the refuelling of the Nazi machine, the murder in Dallas, the arrogance of South Africa, the Hiss-Chambers travesty, the Trotskyite purges, Black Power, Red Guards, the Arab encirclement of Israel, the plague of McCarthyism, the Tweedledum armaments race—only after all this can we finally listen to Mahler’s music and understand that it foretold all.’[5]

Lebrecht, taking up where Bernstein left off, is likewise convinced that Mahler is more than just a great artist. ‘Music, in Mahler’s view, did not exist for pleasure. It had the potential for a “world-shaking effect” in politics and public ethics.’[6] Moreover, the man and his music are said to be ‘central to our understanding of the course of civilisation and the nature of human relationships.’[7] His symphonies are prophesies of war, modern technology, and environmental degradation. For Lebrecht, in Mahler’s Third and Seventh symphonies he hinted at a future ecological disaster; in the Sixth he warned of an imminent world war. “His First Symphony tackled child mortality,” while “his Second denied church dogma on the afterlife.” The Fourth symphony is said to have ‘proclaimed racial equality.’[8]

This kind of overblown rhetoric is too much even for Philip Kennicott, the music critic for The New Republic, who notes that: ‘Mahler is not the only artist who attracts this sort of nonsense, but his partisans seem particularly inclined to it, in part because the composer lived during a period of great intellectual foment…. The truth of Mahler’s complicated life is more interesting, and more stirring, than Lebrecht’s attempts to cast him as an artistic superhero and a Jewish victim.’

Constructing Mahler as Jewish Victim

The cult of Mahler as noble Jewish victim was first given impetus by Arnold Schoenberg (himself an ethnocentric Jew and Zionist) who ‘canonised Mahler as “this martyr, this saint” and in a Prague lecture in March 1912 announced: “Rarely has anyone been so badly treated by the world; nobody, perhaps, worse.”’[9] Frankfurt School music theorist Theodor Adorno took up the theme in 1960, affirming that: ‘Mahler’s tonal chords, plain and unadorned, are the explosive expressions of the pain felt by the individual subject imprisoned in an alienated society… They are also allegories of the lower depths of the insulted and the socially injured… Ever since the last of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen Mahler was able to convert his neurosis, or rather the genuine fears of the downtrodden Jew into a vigour of expression whose seriousness surpassed all aesthetic mimesis and all the fictions of the stile rappresentativo.’[10] Over the fifty years since these statements were made, the Mahler cult of Jewish victimhood has become a cottage industry.

Arnold Schoenberg

Lebrecht’s ethnocentric outpouring is this industry’s latest product. He sees the root of Mahler’s contemporary appeal as lying in the fact that he was ‘three times homeless’ and claimed three identities: ‘his Jewish roots, his German language and his ineluctable sense of not belonging anywhere in the world.’ Mahler is said to have had no sense of permanence. ‘”I am three times without a Heimat,’ says Mahler, ‘as a Bohemian in Austria, an Austrian among Germans and as a Jew throughout the world – always an intruder, never welcomed.” Heimat is German for homeland, for roots and birthright. As a Jew, Mahler has no place to call home.’[11] Stove points out that once this became widely known ‘his identity politics credentials became the aesthetic equivalent of a nuclear warhead, lacking only homosexuality to complete his posthumous triumph.’ Lebrecht, eager to complete the posthumous triumph, earnestly informs us that ‘Inclusivist and non-judgemental, he [Mahler] bears no prejudice against any racial and sexual minorities. The multiculturalism of his Fourth Symphony is not an empty gesture. Mahler, ahead of his time, welcomes the outsider into the fold.’[12]

Even Mahler’s birth date (July 7, 1860) is, for Lebrecht, laden with the rich symbolism of Jewish victimhood. ‘The Hebrew date is the seventeenth day of the month of Tammuz, the Fast of the Fourth Month when Jews begin three weeks of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem in the years 586 BC and 70 AD. The fast is a warning from history, an omen of homelessness. Gustav Mahler enters the world on a day of dispossession.’[13]

That alienation,’ Lebrecht asserts, ‘so prevalent in a culturally diverse twenty-first century, gives a vital clue to Mahler’s contemporary relevance. In an age when a half-African, part-Muslim orphan from Hawaii could rise to become President of the United States of America, Gustav Mahler is finally able to find a home in our lives.’[14] If this is indeed true, it surely indicates the extent to which Jewish sensibilities have indeed become ours – the culmination of a triumphant group evolutionary strategy where the ‘otherness’ of a Jewish culture, once at the periphery of European life, has now successfully established itself at the heart of Western high culture.

Lebrecht cites several Jewish intellectual and artistic figures of his acquaintance who strongly identify with Mahler and draw inspiration from his status as the quintessential Jewish victim. A telling example is the late artist R.B. Kitaj who completed a portrait of Mahler based on a late photograph. Lebrecht recounts:

I got to know him while he was working on the portrait, his Chelsea studio stacked with packing cases, ready for his return to America. ‘The School of London is now closed,’ said Kitaj, winding up a group he formed with Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Howard Hodgkin. His reason for leaving was a mauling by British critics of his 1993 Tate exhibition, an onslaught on which he blamed the death soon after of his wife, Sandra Fisher, from a brain aneurysm. What the critics hated was Kitaj’s lines of comment and explanation on his paintings. Kitaj accused them of anti-Semitism. ‘Was it a coincidence that I was the only Jew who put the Jewish drama at the heart of my paintings?’ he demanded. ‘Was it a coincidence that I was the only exegete among painters?’

‘You’ve caught me at a terrible moment,’ he said when I turned up to talk about Mahler. ‘I really didn’t welcome intrusions this past year. But Mahler I couldn’t refuse.’ He had felt a kinship with Mahler since he studied in 1950s Vienna, seeing hatred in the eyes of his landlady, his tutors, the shopkeepers. ‘The streets I walked on I could have been hauled off just a few years before,’ he said. Kitaj equated anti-Semitism with anti-modernism. ‘Jewish brilliance’, he said, ‘made the modern world.’ Jews like Mahler and Kitaj were agents of change, architects of human unease.[15]

The exact nature of R.B. Kitaj’s ‘Jewish brilliance’ was manifested in a series of paintings of a voluptuous young woman, usually nude (his much younger wife), often in the company of an older bearded man (Kitaj himself). A failure to fully appreciate the aesthetic excellence and intellectual depth of such works could only, their creator reasoned, be the result of vile anti-Semitism. Readers are invited judge for themselves:

R.B. Kitaj, Los Angeles No. 22 2002 oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Jewish Influences in Mahler’s Music

It has long been suggested that Mahler’s music ‘speaks’ Yiddish. Rudolf Louis, a leading critic of Mahler, famously wrote in 1909: ‘What I find so utterly repellent about Mahler’s music is the pronounced Jewishness of its underlying character… It is abhorrent to me because it speaks Yiddish. In other words it speaks the language of German music but with an accent, with the intonation and above all the gestures of the Easterner, the all-to-Eastern Jew.’ Lebrecht, notwithstanding Louis’s anti-Jewish intent, would fully concur with this assessment – linking, as he does, Mahler’s characteristic musical cadences with the Hasidic klezmer bands he was exposed to as a child:

The Judaism in which Gustav Mahler is raised is lukewarm, mainstream Orthodox with infusions of other trends. He encounters Hasidic melody from itinerant klezmer bands, their music shifting, with a nod of the head, from morbid to manic and back. Klezmer is a music that obeys no code of conduct, unlike the military bands that parade daily in Iglau’s town square. A collision of army discipline and smiley Jewish individualism is imprinted on the boy’s mind. The first language he hears at home is Yiddish, a dialect made up of German, Hebrew, Aramaic and Slavonic terms with a syntax all its own. Known as mameloshn, mother’s tongue, Yiddish allows Jews to communicate in code. Double negatives are designed to confuse alien ears, along with a courtesy so elaborate that only by listening to tone and observing hand motions can anyone be sure whether a word is flattery or insult.

Yiddish rings loud in Mahler’s adult response ‘Am I a wild animal?’ he shouts at celebrity gawkers, using a Yiddish term, vilde khaye, that conveys both feral danger and boyish mischief, terror and endearment in one useful obfuscation… Crucially, Yiddish gives his music the possibility of sustaining two contrary meanings. Every innovation that Mahler makes derives from his tribal origins’[16]

For Lebrecht, in the funeral march in Mahler’s First Symphony he ‘is writing as a Jew and the irony he uses is not classical Greek but everyday Yiddish, a dialect that changes meaning by gesture and inflection. Any statement in Yiddish can be made to mean the opposite… the conjunction of gravity and gaiety is a facet of Jewish psychology and a driving motive of Mahler’s First Symphony. Played without irony, the music sounds shallow. Played with too Jewish an accent, it attains self-parody. Mahler leaves it to interpreters to strike the correct balance.’[17]

It says something of the extent of what Wagner called the ‘Jewification’ (Verjudung) of contemporary Western musical taste that audiences actually have come to prefer the Yiddish-inflected musical irony of Mahler over the sincerity of a Beethoven or a Bruckner. Of course a professed love of Mahler’s music cannot be taken at face value these days – often involving extra-musical motivations like a desire to make (through such a statement) tacit declaration of one’s political rectitude and moral purity.

As mentioned, Lebrecht is centrally preoccupied in his book with ‘seeking the meaning of Mahler in the context of his ancestry’ and how his artistic achievement was fully and happily determined by it.[18] In this endeavor he finds a parallelism between Mahler with Freud. According to Lebrecht:

Mahler’s closest affinity with a maker of the modern world was with Sigmund Freud, four years his senior and from a similar Czech-Jewish provincial background. Both built works out of incidents in their early lives. Freud predicated the Oedipus Theory on memories of urinating in his parents’ bedroom, being his mother’s favourite and seeing his father racially humiliated. Mahler, a boy who saw five of his brothers carried in coffins from the family tavern where the singing never stopped, composed a child’s funeral in his First Symphony with a drunken jig… Both men, intellectually Jewish, could sustain discrete lines of thought within a single argument. Freud’s free association is modelled on Talmudic discourse where rabbinic opinions from various places and centuries preclude a straight logical line. Mahler’s interpolation of stray horns and folk-songs reveals the same methodology… Both used their Jewishness as a shield and a sword. ‘Because I was a Jew I found myself free from many prejudices which limited others in the employment of their intellects,’ said Freud, ‘and as a Jew I was prepared to go into opposition and to do without the agreement of the “compact majority”.’ Being Jewish, said Mahler, was like being born with a short arm, having to swim twice as hard. Being ‘three times homeless’, he could ignore fixed rules. Both men felt a sense of mission to improve the world, undertaking a tikkun olam to assist and complete God’s work of creation.[19]

Vienna Mayor Dr. Karl Lueger

This sense of a ‘mission to improve the world’, supposedly shared by Freud and Mahler, inevitably manifested itself in vehement rejection of the cultural mores and consensus views of the Vienna of their time. For Lebrecht, fin de siecle Vienna was a place where the demonization of Jews’ is ‘culturally acceptable’, and where ‘the appalling prospect of genocide germinates around the Ring of Mahler’s Vienna.’[20] It is a city ruled by a militant anti-Semite [Karl Lueger] whose ‘racialism, selective and at times quiescent, can be whipped up at will against the “money and stock exchange Jews”, the “beggar Jews”, the “ink Jews” (intellectuals) and perpetually, the “press Jews”. Under Lueger, Vienna becomes the first modern city to make hating Jews municipal policy.’[21] For Mahler it is a place where ‘the forces of darkness are rallying to plot his downfall’ and where ‘everything Mahler does with the Vienna Philharmonic is tinged with an undercurrent of anti-Semitism.’[22] Vienna is a city ‘whose ideology is introspective, racist, regressive and smug’ and where ‘Mahler and Klimt represent a progressive, liberal alternative from the all-pervading unreality.’ In such a threatening environment Mahler does ‘what Jews have done down the ages. He huddles in a ghetto of close friends, almost all of them Jewish, and keeps his head down.’[23]

Constructing Mahler’s Jewish Identity

An awkward issue that Jewish Mahler-worshippers have had to deal with is the composer’s conversion to Christianity. Kennicott critiques the deceptive way that Lebrecht represents Mahler’s conversion to Christianity to secure his appointment in 1897 as Director of the State Opera in Vienna. Lebrecht is eager to present the conversion as a purely cynical manoeuvre on the part of Mahler, and one which left his strong Jewish self-identification unaltered. Lebrecht tells the story this way (citing the conductor Bruno Walter and the Austrian music critic Ludwig Karpath):

He is the most reluctant, the most resentful, of converts. “I had to go through it,” he tells Walter. “This action,” he informs Karpath, “which I took out of self-preservation, and which I was fully prepared to take, cost me a great deal.” He tells a Hamburg writer: “I’ve changed my coat.” There is no false piety here, no pretence. Mahler is letting it be known for the record that he is a forced convert, one whose Jewish pride is undiminished, his essence unchanged. [24]

Kennicott quotes the full transcript of the letter to Karpath, cited in Henry Louis de la Grange’s epic four-volume biography (with references to Mahler’s pre-Vienna post in Hamburg where Bernhard Pollini was manager of the opera):

“Do you know what particularly offends and annoys me? The fact that it was impossible to occupy an official post without being baptized. This is something I have never been prepared to accept. Of course it is untrue to say that I was baptized only when the opportunity arose for my engagement in Vienna—I was baptized years before. In fact it was my longing to escape from the hell of Hamburg under Pollini that prompted me to contemplate the idea of leaving the Jewish community. That is the humiliating part of it. I do not deny that it cost me a great effort, indeed one could say it was an instinct for self-survival that prompted me to such an action. Inwardly I was not averse to the idea at all.”

As Kennicott points out: ‘Lebrecht is too selective in his interpretation, and does not adequately confront the ambiguity of that last line: “Inwardly I was not averse to the idea at all.”… This complication does not stop Lebrecht from indulging in a line of Mahler bathos that, once again, was most fully embodied in Bernstein, but which has little scholarly support.’ Lebrecht, like Bernstein, sees Mahler as forever troubled by his conversion, leading him to a wild conjecture about another event in Mahler’s life – a mishap during Mahler’s marriage to Alma Schindler. During the wedding, Mahler stumbled, or fell, while kneeling at the altar:

Picture the scene: Anxious little Jew about to marry blond bombshell, trips over his prayer stool and falls flat on his face, ha-ha, no one laughing louder than the priest, Josef Pfob. Is this what really happens? My scrutiny of the spot suggests an ulterior scenario. Above the altar is a Baroque sunburst with four Hebrew letters at its center—yod, heh, waw, heh—the tetragrammaton that is the unpronounced Jewish name for God. Gustav Mahler looks up as he sinks to his knees, misses his footing and falls. Alma thinks he trips because he is so short. But Mahler has just seen the God of the Jews. Guilt and betrayal clog his gullet. He needs a moment to collect himself before he takes Christian vows. He falls over to gain time. Alma and the priest giggle at his discomfiture. He does not belong in church.[25]

This passage is pure fantasy which Lebrecht invents based on a few Hebrew characters in the church. Kennicott notes that there is no evidence whatever for the account, and ‘the idea that Mahler intentionally throws himself to the ground “to gain time” is completely unsupported… As for Mahler’s feelings of guilt and betrayal, here is de la Grange again: “Nothing, either in Mahler’s reported words or in his letters, betrays the slightest guilt feeling for having left the religion of his ancestors, a remorse which nevertheless has been attributed to him.”’ Undaunted, the ethnocentric and star-struck Lebrecht goes to great lengths to create this very impression:

After the act of conversion he never attends mass, never goes to confession, never crosses himself. The only time he ever enters a church for a religious purpose is to get married. His wife calls him a ‘Christ-believing Jew’ but the prayers he offers in mortal anguish, scrawled in his final score, are only to God the Father. Mahler, officially a Catholic, remains a monotheist and a Jew. He is a relic of an unending persecution, a kind of marrano, like one of thousands who went underground for centuries in Spain after Ferdinand and Isabella started burning the Jews in 1492. To Viennese anti-Semites, he is the archetypal Jew.[26]

Lebrecht is at his most blindly ethnocentric (to the point of complete self-deception) in analysing the last lines of Das Lied von der Erde, or The Song of the Earth, from 1908, a suite of extended orchestral songs. He seizes on the last words of the final poem: ewig, ewig (forever, forever). In context, they are ‘typical Romantic exclamations of the numinous.’ But Lebrecht detects a deeper hidden meaning in this song-symphony:

How does Mahler pack so much emotion into so trite a word? The ‘Ewig’ enigma resisted me for years until a chance sighting at a 1988 exhibition in Vienna cracked a subconscious code. It was the fiftieth anniversary of Hitler’s Anschluss, and among the artefacts was a photograph of a railway station festooned with a banner: ‘Der Ewige Jude’, the eternal Jew. Of course, ‘Ewig’, pronounced eh-vish, has a specific connotation in the German mind. It is the Eternal Jew, the one that killed Christ and is condemned to wander the beloved earth, a touchstone of Christian theology. In 1940 Joseph Goebbels makes it the title of a film whose purpose is to justify genocide. ‘Ewig’ and Jew are linked in the German mind.[27]

This leads Lebrecht to the following conclusion: ‘“Ewig” in ‘The Song of the Earth’ is the Jew in Gustav Mahler, the alter ego, the old, real Mahler he manages to rediscover as his life enters its closing phase.’[28]

Kennicott points out that, once again, there is no evidence for this conjecture, which is based on connecting a single word from a song text, paraphrased at fourth-hand from a Tang Dynasty Chinese poem, to events three decades later. Moreover, ‘Ewigkeit is one of the oldest clichés of German Romanticism. Confronted with such a wild hermeneutical leap, the reader has a revelation too: the book should not be called Why Mahler?, a question which answers itself, but rather, My Mahler.’

The construction of Mahler as Jewish genius is a fascinating case study of the social identity processes at work among a subset of the Jewish intellectuals. From a group strategic perspective it is the psychological complement to exaggerating anti-Semitism as a way of promoting Jewish group cohesion. It consists of three related approaches, all of which are starkly evident in Lebrecht’s latest book, and all of which are entirely predictable in accordance with social identity theory. Firstly, inflate the significance of a Jewish figure’s intellectual or artistic achievement to the point where it is held to be of ‘world changing’ magnitude. Secondly, accentuate the Jewish origins and affiliations of the figure so that that his ‘world-changing’ achievement is held to be the natural expression of his Jewish origins and identity. Lastly, portray this brilliant Jewish world-changing figure as subject to the unjust persecution of a hostile, and deeply immoral, non-Jewish outgroup (in this case the society of fin de siecle Vienna). While crude, this is a highly effective strategy and a compelling example of a type of intellectual activity which, in essence, constitutes a form of ethnic warfare.


Adorno, T. (1963) ‘Centenary Address, Vienna 1960’ in Quasi una fantasia – Essays on Modern Music, Translated by Rodney Livingstone, Verso, London & New York.

Bernstein, L. (1967) “Mahler: His Time Has Come.” High Fidelity. April.

Lebrecht, N. (2010) Why Mahler? How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World, Faber and Faber, London.

MacDonald, K. B. (1998/2001) The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth‑Century Intellectual and Political Movements, Westport, CT: Praeger. Revised Paperback edition, 2001, Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library.



1 Lebrecht, N. 2010, p. x

2MacDonald, K. 1998/2001, p. 16

3Lebrecht, N. 2010, p. 232

4Ibid. p. 132

5Bernstein, L. 1967

6Lebrecht, N. 2010, p. 9

7 Ibid. p. 20

8Ibid. p. 9

9 Ibid. p. 225

[10] Adorno, T. 1963, p. 88

11Ibid. p. 24

12 Ibid. p. 114

13 Ibid. p. 25-26

14Ibid. p. x

15Ibid. p. 155-156

16Ibid. p. 28-29

17 Ibid. p. 59-60

18Ibid. p. xi

19Ibid. p. 8-9

20 Ibid. p. 41

21 Ibid. p. 100

22 Ibid. p. 108

23Ibid. p. 41

24 Ibid. p. 95

25 Ibid. p. 133-134

26 Ibid. p. 95

27 Ibid. p. 181

28 Ibid. P. 181-182

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103 Comments to "Why Mahler? Norman Lebrecht and the Construction of Jewish Genius"

  1. Bobby's Gravatar Bobby
    September 19, 2011 - 6:24 pm | Permalink

    @ned: Ludwig Van was complete as a master of the classical style, and the forerunner of the romantic style. But then there’s Mozart and Bach in the background, wwwww……. Beethoven’s own words on Bach, “He was the greatest of us all.”

  2. Rehmat's Gravatar Rehmat
    April 28, 2011 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    On April 26, 2011, the neocon propaganda organ, the Foreign Affairs magazine published Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren’s rant entitled The Ultimate Ally. As a typical self-denial Israeli, Oren claimed that as result of the current protests against the US friendly regimes in the Middle East – The US needs Israel on its side more than ever before.

    Oren highlighted some of the ‘benefits’ Americans have been receiving by maintaining ”strong alliance” with Israel including Israel enhancing American intelligence and defense capabilities and providing ports and training for US forces and helping secure America’s borders and assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield.

    No one can deny Oren’s claim of US-Israeli strong bonds in those fields. How else Jonathan Pollard would have been able to steal over million US secrets for Israel or Israel being able to mastermind and carry-out September 11 terrorist attacks…….


  3. Doug's Gravatar Doug
    April 25, 2011 - 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Mahler’s dissonant music is meant to give you a sense of unease; a sense of irresolution. His ardent fans will tell you this, that music is not always supposed to be tonal or beautiful. Mahler’s music is much like one of Norman Lear’s stated purposes in his TV scripts: to offend.

  4. Rehmat's Gravatar Rehmat
    April 23, 2011 - 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli Jewish mother who told European Parliament in 2005: “The so-called free world is affraid of the Muslim womb”.


    • Jason Speaks's Gravatar Jason Speaks
      April 23, 2011 - 9:04 pm | Permalink

      So you are Arab or Muslim Rehmat? I am just curious. If you want to find a way to work with Whites to defeat Jewish influence in the Middle East, I don’t think you are going about it quite the right way.

  5. Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
    April 18, 2011 - 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I cannot but regard the most recent posts in this thread, overstuffed as they are with links in the manner of the departed David Longley, as at best counterproductive and perhaps much worse. I think that they might inspire many a reader to drop to his knees and utter a hasty but fervent prayer that the good Lord would preserve him and all his kith and kin from the modern world’s most insidious plague: cut-and-paste disease.

    MOB: May I address you in earnest, sir? Why, after Mr. Sanderson has taken some pains to show what a false and deceptive guide Norman Lebrecht is at the best of times, have you—on the basis of an article by that same asinine scribbler whose every phrase and sentence we have been rightly instructed to distrust—offered up as an object of abuse the Catholic conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who doesn’t even like Mahler, for heaven’s sake, and never conducts his music? Furthermore, why do you then ice the cake with a lengthy quote from Mossad Central (aka Wikipedia, aka the Pretend Encyclopedia)? To continue with the baking metaphor, why does the goo between the layers consists of hold-the-presses stuff about Jews running the music racket and a guilt-by-association riff involving a professional choir named after—not founded by, mind you—Mr. Ultimate Evil, Arnold Schoenberg?

    Have you heard the Arnold Schoenberg chorus sing? I have. It’s one of the best groups in Europe, and I haven’t heard a professional chorus here in the States that’s even remotely comparable. When last I saw a list of the choristers’ names, it was evident that at least 95 percent of them were gentiles/Christians/whites—pick your preferred term. Nor would I accept the proposition that it’s all deep cover, that they are softening us up, getting us ready for the slaughter.

    Incidentally, I have recordings in which this chorus sings music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and Verdi. No Mendelssohn, no Bloch, no Schoenberg, no Copland, no Gershwin (no, I haven’t bought the new Porgy and Bess), and certainly no Mahler.

    Finally, what does your enjoyment of Rachmaninoff, as fine a thing as that is, have to do with anything? Neither I nor anyone else has suggested that you couldn’t or shouldn’t enjoy him, even though he was a citizen of the USSR, the greatest Jewish terrorist state that the world has ever seen.

    It is most disheartening to see this thread, which began with an article of genuine substance—even, one might say, intellectual distinction—end with the revenge of the ghost of David Longley. If this is the best offensive that our side can mount, we are bloody well doomed.

    • April 19, 2011 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

      No, Pierre…Rachmainoff was not a citizen of the “Jewish terrorist USSR”. He fled Russia in 1918, with a Jew-communist death squad hot on his heels. They then burned his estate. With a couple of exceptions, Jewish music critics – in part because of his anti-communism and Eastern Orthodoxy – then attacked his music for decades. More fool they…in the end Rachmaninoff’s music triumphed, and so will we.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 20, 2011 - 1:24 am | Permalink

      CF: You are of course right about the date, as indeed I knew when I typed what I did. I was being facetious out of extreme frustration with MOB’s comments, which I continue to think take matters of at best marginal concern to genuinely absurd and distressing extremes. Someone, like me, who eschews the use of emoticons will occasionally fail to make his meaning clear, as I evidently didn’t here. I am sorry for giving you the wrong impression.

      I am, however, far less certain than you are about the details of his flight from Russia. He evidently considered leaving as early as 1916 because of the war, the social unrest (largely Bolshevik-led and foreign Jew-inspired), and the fast-worsening economic situation. He had been out of Russia many times to perform in western Europe since at least 1910 and actually applied to leave again in September 1918, but he could not get a visa then, seemingly because he lacked a foreign engagement. However, when in November he did get an invitation to perform in (I think) Stockholm, he was promptly issued the visa and before Christmas left Russia for good legally and with all three of his daughters in tow. In addition, if the Reds were gunning for him, they weren’t gunning terribly hard, since his music was not banned in the Soviet Union till 1931—when the ban came in response to a negative but by no means truly acrimonious piece (in the Sulzberger-owned New York Times, no less) about what the Soviets had done to his motherland—and the ban was permanently lifted just two years later. Performances of all his extant music then immediately resumed, and every Soviet conductor and pianist of note for the remainder of the Evil Empire’s existence had it in his or her repertory. He never got a cent of royalties for the Russian performances, of course, but neither did any other composer who jumped ship.

      Furthermore, if you take a look at the Rachmaninoff article in the New Grove (1980)—where his name is spelt Rakhmaninov, incidentally—you will see that all of the most important early studies of his life and music (those from the twenties and thirties) were the work of Soviet writers and critics. I wish that my ex-employers all hated me to that extent!

      I differ with you, too, about the pattern of critical response to R.’s music. I see it winning very little esteem from any important anglophone critic, irrespective of ethnicity or religion, prior to 1985 at the earliest. I can assure you from close and concentrated firsthand experience that in the quarter-century before that, the critical consensus, whatever its source or breakdown, had little or no effect upon R.’s popularity with concert audiences in New York City—audiences always at least 50 percent Jewish and often much more. It is true, of course, that the bulk of Western performances were of the second and third piano concertos and the Paganini Rhapsody, works that many (but by no means all) of the most celebrated pianists of the last century performed frequently. Nevertheless, two conductors, the Christian Stokowski and the Jewish Ormandy, stand out for their loyalty (indeed, their devotion) to the cause of Rachmaninoff’s music (even the Jewish Koussevitzky, a modernist by disposition, conducted R.’s music on occasion). They faithfully performed the second and third symphonies, the symphonic dances, the striking late tone poem The Isle of the Dead,, and even bits of his liturgical music in concert (in the sixties I heard brief excerpts from the Chrysostom Liturgy on the radio from, if I recall aright, Philadelphia) both while he lived and afterwards till they themselves died. I distinctly recall seeing critical essays that disparaged R.’s music, but most of them were in musicological journals and such record-review magazines as High Fidelity and Stereo Review. I do not recall seeing even a single extended negative critical study in either the Times or the old Herald Tribune written by a prominent staffer or guest critic—certainly nothing that could compare with the openly Christophobic attacks on Bruckner and Stravinsky, to name two of the Jews’ favorite targets.

      Perhaps the critical pieces I saw or was aware of were the work of Jewish critics; perhaps they weren’t. I simply don’t remember, in part because I sympathized deeply with people tasked with reviewing a seemingly endless stream of recordings of his music! And sad as I am to say it, the number of Jews buying records of serious music were way, way, way out of proportion to their numbers in the population. If someone had been able to muster an organized Jewish opposition to Rachmaninoff, the recording industry would have been the first to fall in line with Central Command.

      I haven’t closely followed the patterns of critical nay- and yea-saying since the mid-eighties since—to put the matter plainly but politely—I am not in agreement with and far less than well pleased at the resurgence of R.’s critical reputation here and in England and the increased popularity of his music with conductors of every nationality and ethnicity. Whether he is more popular with audiences now than he was thirty and forty years, I also cannot tell. Lord knows that I wasn’t delighted with the status quo then!

      In closing, let me in effect repeat what I said to MOB. I rejoice in the pleasure you get from hearing Rachmaninoff’s music. Please accept with a good grace that I take pleasure in not hearing it.

      Pax tibi.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 20, 2011 - 1:45 am | Permalink

      A footnote to my interminable prior post. Another big-name conductor who advanced R.’s cause aggressively, both while R. lived and afterwards, was the Greek-born and Greek Orthodox (but also actively homosexual) Dimitri Mitropoulos, who was the New York Philharmonic’s music director throughout the fifties and had succeeded Ormandy in Minneapolis a decade or so earlier. Any composer who had advocates such as these at the helm of two of the most prominent orchestras in the United States would count himself deliriously fortunate.

      Mitropoulos’s greatest cause, however, was Mahler’s music. So maybe I should pack my bags and get out of Dodge before my legs get, uh, accidentally broken in a fall down a flight of stairs.

  6. Fenria's Gravatar Fenria
    April 17, 2011 - 8:06 pm | Permalink

    When criticism is being handed out, the jew is always white. When accolades are being handed out, the jew is most careful to make it known that he is a jew.

  7. MOB's Gravatar MOB
    April 17, 2011 - 7:51 pm | Permalink

    A few comments: Whereas 40 years ago, I enjoyed Gershwin and Copland, today I switch the dial the second I hear their name or the first few bars of their music. I’ve had enough.

    I give as much weight to Mahler’s conversion as I do to that of Heine. Which is none.

    Two of my grandchildren, aged 9 and 11, have been studying violin since age 3. In their music school’s polls, Beethoven is consistently selected as the students’ favorite composer, right down to the youngest age. How can this be, sans subtlety, sans Plato, sans intellectual learning? Yet it is.

    I must disagree about Rachmaninoff, all of whose music I enjoy. I expect millions of people would disagree that this music is “silly” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hubyFqSUaGA

    Here’s a peace offering for posting that triviality:

  8. MOB's Gravatar MOB
    April 17, 2011 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

    In “An Interview With Nikolaus Harnoncourt” (2000), Norman Lebrecht writes,
    No conductor since Karajan has achieved brand-name recognition on record – with one exception. Nikolaus Harnoncourt is a Habsburg by blood, a descendant of Holy Roman emperors, who used to earn his crust as a back-row cellist in Vienna’s second orchestra until he decided that he knew better than most maestros how classical music should sound. In 1957, with his violinist wife, Alice, Harnoncourt formed Europe’s first professional period-instrument group, the Concentus Musicus Wien. When his stark-pure Bach challenged conventional upholstery, he was banned from Salzburg on Karajan’s orders.

    It was Karajan who, in 1952, picked him from 40 aspirants to play in the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. They remained on friendly terms until Karajan took command of Berlin, Salzburg and the Vienna State Opera. “I still don’t understand why our relations went bad,” he says. “Perhaps it was due to his advisers. Karajan loved to perform Bach, but every time he produced a choral recording it would be compared to mine, not always favourably. I wrote to him once, and got a very nice reply, but it remained impossible for me to work in Salzburg.”

    Then, in 1992, Harnoncourt stormed the charts with a million-selling set of Beethoven symphonies. Contrary to his typecasting as an early-music aesthete, he conducted the full-blooded Chamber Orchestra of Europe on modern instruments in a refreshingly direct blend of historical awareness and contemporary zeitgeist. Offers came flooding in: a lifetime contract with Teldec, a New Year’s Day concert with the Vienna Philharmonic. He made a belated Salzburg debut and formed solid ties with the Concertgebouw and Berlin Philharmonic. . . . he does not shirk awkward questions and frankly ascribes much of his outlook to the simmering legacy of growing up under the Nazis. “This was a time that left the greatest imprint on my life,” he affirms. Born Nikolaus de la Fontaine und d’Harnoncourt-Unverzagt in Berlin in 1929, Harnoncourt returned as a boy to Graz, in southern Austria, where the family lived in an ancestral mansion. His father, an aristocrat of French descent, instilled Catholic and liberal views in his children; Nazism was anathema at home. “It left me with a great fear of not being in control of my life,” says Harnoncourt.

    He names Carl Schuricht, Erich Kleiber, Karajan, Eugene Ormandy and Georg Szell as the most memorable – “but I will not tell you which I learned through loving them and which through hate”.
    My comment: In fact, Jewish issues weave their way through Schuricht and Kleiber (wiki), Ormandy (real name Jenö Blau) (naxos), and George Szell.

    Wikipedia quotes him, “I don’t like the word ‘authenticity’. It’s dangerous. I’m not interested in museum music. My intention is not to do a guided tour through Bach’s oeuvre,” Harnoncourt once said in an interview. He is not restricted exclusively to early music and conducts and records repertoire from classical to romantic and even 20th century music. Last year he conducted Stravinsky’s opera “The Rake’s Progress” and George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”. Still on his wish list are “a number of works by Bartok and Berg”.

    In Perspectives on Gustav Mahler by Jeremy Barham, Karen Painter writes: “The programming of Mahler’s First, Second and Fourth Symphonies in rapid succession in Berlin in 1927 (under Bruno Walter, Carl Schuricht and Heinz Unger) led one critic, Erich Urban, to claim the victory of the composer over the ‘dark, unwieldy Bruckner, revelling in excessive dimensions’ (citation). This article spurred the right-wing critic Paul Zschorlich to turn an aesthetic debate into racial diatribe: ‘There is no point in circumventing these issues. The reason why Mahler is favoured over Bruckner is first and foremost the simple fact that our concert business is primarily in Jewish hands and that Jewish conductors always push their racial colleague Mahler into the foreground’ (citation).”

    I’ll add that Harnoncourt also has a long-time relationship with the Arnold Schoenberg Chor, for whatever that’s worth. I have no axe to grind with regard to Harnoncourt. I write as a music lover who has by this time abandoned several classical music stations specifically because of what for me constitutes a Jewish Problem. This problem does not necessarily consist only of Jewish conductors, soloists, or selections — Jews seem never to operate solo, but always within one or the other alliance – gypsies and homosexuals come to mind, for some reason. In the case of classical music, this alliance includes in addition to Jews a broader group of described as modernist, atonal, or variations thereof – French composers are many – who are all interrelated in some way, which isn’t unusual given their shared musical preference.

  9. MOB's Gravatar MOB
    April 17, 2011 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    The three conductors’ names I hear on radio so much more than I want to are Dohnanyi, Bernstein, and Solti — all three are Jews. Non-Jewish classical music lovers whose antennae are especially sensitive to Jewish ubiquity in the music world have much to cause them aggravation: as with all matters involving the Jewish problem, the instances and examples are so overwhelmingly ongoing that eventually withdrawal seems the only way to survive the irritation.

    I. Note of interest on Mahler
    Non-Jewish Willem Mengelberg befriended Gustav Mahler in 1902, introduced most of Mahler’s work to Dutch audiences, and founded the long-standing Mahler tradition of the Concertgebouw. Mahler even he edited some of his symphonies while in the Netherlands to make them sound better for the acoustics of the concert hall of the Concertgebouw, which is renowned for its Mahler tradition.

    Mahler Festival at Amsterdam by Adrian C Boult (The Daily Telegraph – 22nd May 1920)
    It was a choice of unusual interest that was made by the Amsterdam Committee for the celebration of the twenty-fifth jubilee of their conductor, Willem Mengelberg, whom London concert-goers know well, when it was decided to devote the festival to the complete orchestral works of Gustav Mahler. Mahler and Mengelberg were great friends, and Mengelberg is, in fact, Mahler`s literary and musical executor. He has had much to do with the publication of Mahler’s posthumous works and has achieved a reputation throughout Europe of being the greatest living conductor of Mahler’s work: greater perhaps than was the composer himself for it is said that when conducting his own work, he sometimes was so carried away that he failed to keep that perfect balance between the head and heart that is so essential to every executive artist. . . . (more)

    II. Example of probable tribal motivation


    “With friends like this, Franz Welser-Most hardly needs enemies

    Like most American music critics, I am dismayed about the latest revelations in the Rosenberg Case. No not that one, the one concerning Cleveland Plain Dealer music critic Donald Rosenberg’s being removed from his duties covering the Cleveland Orchestra. …. Ever since Franz Welser-Most became music director in 2002, Rosenberg has been a thorn in the Cleveland Orchestra’s side. He apparently doesn’t find the young Austrian conductor a suitable leader for what may be American’s finest orchestra.
    The newspaper is not saying exactly why Rosenberg – who has been the paper’s critic for 16 years, has reviewed the orchestra for 30 and is author of a history of the orchestra – has been replaced on this beat by a 31-year-old staff writer. ….The publisher is on the orchestra’s board. This great orchestra, moreover, is a great source of pride for an economically depressed city. Sooner or later, the paper was going to do something about a critic who found little to like in a music director whose contract has been extended until 2018. You can write a lot of negative reviews in 10 years. One reason I hear about the administration’s complaints is that I happen to think very highly of Welser-Most. For Don (Rosenberg), who reveres Christoph von Dohnanyi , the orchestra’s previous music director, for his seriousness of purpose and incredibly solid musicianship, Welser-Most lacks substance and character. … (more)”
    My comment:
    Christoph von Dohnanyi, himself, received from Hebrew Union College the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, but his father, Hans (born to Erno Dohnanyi and Elizabeth Kunwald and married to a Bonhoeffer), is the well-known rescuer of Jews, resistance fighter, and participant in the plot to assassinate Hitler, for which he was hanged in 1945. In 2003, Israel honoured Hans Dohnanyi by recognizing him as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for saving the Arnold and Fliess families, at risk to his own life. His name is inscribed in the walls at the Holocaust remembrance centre Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

    Welser-Most definitely isn’t qualified to step into such immense shoes.


    Franz Welser-Möst, now Music Director of both the Cleveland Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera, was only 29 when he was tapped to be the Music Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Then he led the Zurich Opera for eight years conducting more than 50 premieres. Speaking with “Mad About Music” host Gilbert Kaplan, Welser- Möst reveals:
    * How he plans to restore a Mozart tradition at the Vienna Opera
    * Why the Orchestra at the Vienna State Opera doesn’t need rehearsals
    * How conductors’ egos can cause trouble with orchestras
    * If he had to pick one piece that would best demonstrate his skill as a conductor it would be Schubert’s Ninth Symphony
    * At his funeral he would want Simon Keenlyside to sing a few Schubert songs
    *It was only after coming to America he made any Jewish friends – one of whom introduced him to Klezmer music (which he plays on the show)

    Here he’s interviewed specifically on Mahler http://mahler.universaledition.com/franz-welser-most-gustav-mahler/

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 17, 2011 - 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Christoph von Dohnányi is not Jewish. His aunt (mother’s late sister) was married to someone who also wasn’t Jewish but was of Jewish ancestry. That is the closest to the taint of Jewishness that you can drag Christoph von Dohnányi. Or are you really going to claim he’s an honorary Jew because he accepted an honorary degree from an Israeli university or because his old man helped a few Jews during WWII instead of turning them into the Hungarian equivalent of the Schutzstaffel or the Geheimnis Staatspolizei?

      Good grief!

  10. MOB's Gravatar MOB
    April 16, 2011 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-iuSgXKUcw Menuhin/Beethoven Violin

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CDo6c6-Wt4 Furtwangler/Menuhin/Beethoven Violin (not shown playing)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6BJCjWtoqg Menuhin talks about Furtwangler

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO7kZOa8Izc&feature=related Karajan/Menuhin/Mozart Violin Pt. 1

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2219310962212012112# Karajan/Beethoven Sym.# 5

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2j-frfK-yg&fmt=18 – Bach, Air on the G String

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4wCrA4ZnY8&feature=related – Handel’s Largo, Rudolf Schock

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMlxM69ZJFA – Largo, orchestral

  11. Bohemianh's Gravatar Bohemianh
    April 16, 2011 - 9:27 am | Permalink

    one jew tells another he is a genius! the other jew says no your the genuis! It’s a wonder any of us non koshers exist at all?

    • Felix Grubel's Gravatar Felix Grubel
      April 16, 2011 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

      But it explains why intelligent non-koshers take, as standard operating procedure, whatever chosenites say with a large grain of salt.

  12. Mike's Gravatar Mike
    April 16, 2011 - 6:45 am | Permalink

    The Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt has made some thought-provoking comments on Mahler. At the end of the 1990s he said in an interview that nothing would ever persuade him to conduct Mahler’s symphonies, because, in his eyes, Mahler was an extremely egocentric composer. According to Harnoncourt, the word “me” is written all over Mahler’s music. Mozart is the very opposite of Mahler, because, with the possible exception of the Requiem, there are no autobiographical elements to Mozart’s music.

    In his book, “Baroque Music Today” (1988), Harnoncourt claims that Mahler’s conducting style has had a bad impact on performance practice: “As late as 1910, the way a dotted rhythm should be played was still known and sensed, as old recordings show… Only since Gustav Mahler insisted on a very precise way of playing exactly what was written has this knowledge been gradually lost” (p. 49). I am not aware of any musicologist who has elaborated on this.

    Coming to think of it, the number of significant Jewish composers seems small: Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Offenbach, Mahler, Schönberg, Ernest Bloch, Gershwin, Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler… Are there any more?

    • April 16, 2011 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

      “Me” being written into music is one of the defining traits of all Romanticism, not just Mahler.

      There are many other Jewish composers, but only Mendelssohn and Mahler are truly “significant”–and they were Jews in race alone, but in culture and conviction they were more German and Christian than Jewish. Really, I have never heard a convincing case that there is something ethnically Jewish about their music.

      The story of Wagner’s meeting with Mendelssohn is very amusing. Wagner was loquacious and mercurial. Mendelssohn was taciturn and stolid. Wagner’s personality was the more Jewish, Mendelssohn’s the more German. Naturally, Wagner disliked Mendelssohn–on anti-Semitic grounds, of course!

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 16, 2011 - 7:51 pm | Permalink

      It is a relief to finally read on this thread comments from two men who know and understand serious music and clearly love it, even though what they express is a difference of opinion! (In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit to having a presumptive bias in favor of anyone that mentions the name of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, whom I consider the most significant performing musician of our time, as well as a notable, albeit sometimes problematic, musical thinker.)

      While it is hard to disagree with Harnoncourt’s overall characterization of Mahler’s music—though to the best of my knowledge, the precise words used by Mike are a journalist’s encapsulation, not a direct quote from NH—two things ought to be kept in mind: (1) not all Mahler’s music is equally me-ridden (think of The Song of the Earth and many of the late Wunderhorn songs, which are virtually textbook examples of objective [i.e., un-ironic] but probing and far-reaching word setting); and (2) NH has frequently performed music of Alban Berg (notably the violin concerto, which he even recorded in the late nineties, although the recording was never released), and (the nominally Catholic) Berg, a friend and disciple of Schoenberg, was a composer whose music radiates me-ness virtually as much as Mahler’s—the point being that one needs to keep things in perspective when musicians, even great ones, speak of their likes and dislikes and the reasons therefor.

      I have been familiar with the book Mike cites for more than fifteen years, yet I must admit that the passage he faithfully reproduces has always struck me as odd. It is very widely held (and not just by flaneurs) that the “very precise way of playing exactly what was written” that NH deprecates stems from the performance practice of Weingartner and Toscanini, not that of Mahler, whose own style of performance was in his time regarded as hyperexpressive and extremely responsive to local musical events (a style nowadays often tiresomely nutshelled as “interventionist”). It is worth noting that Mahler’s friend and lifelong proponent Bruno Walter—whose own conducting, perfectly balanced on the knife’s edge separating expression from restraint and overelasticity from overrigidity, was radically unlike what Mahler’s is usually said to be—credits Mahler with teaching him how to play Mozart in such a way as to bring the music’s passion and drama to the fore. Yet in the same paragraph cited by Mike, NH points to Walter’s way of voicing Mozart’s notation as the stylistically apt way—and the way that, NH says, now appears to be spurlos versunken.

      None of this is by way of saying that NH is wrong or that Mike cites him erroneously. Rather, my point is that there is ample room here for reasonable men to differ.

      Apropos Mr. Johnson’s story of the Mendelssohn-Wagner encounter, it is also a story thrice familiar to me. Yet one once-famous critic, Harold Schonberg (not a source, may I add, whose judgments ought to be swallowed uncritically!), capped his own recounting of the meeting with the punchline that Wagner’s take on Mendelssohn was that he was a brilliant conversationalist.

      Non è vero, è ben trovato.

  13. April 16, 2011 - 1:10 am | Permalink

    Mahler converted out of Judaism, and I think we need to respect that decision. Although I don’t think religious conversion changes race, with Jews it often is indicative of low levels of Jewish ethnocentrism and even a strong antipathy to Judaism and Jewish culture. Lebrecht is a joke and embarrassment even among Jews, but there is an industry staffed mostly by Jews with a few amateur anti-Semites chipping in dedicated to arguing that Mahler is in some meaningful sense a Jewish composer. As musicology, it is rubbish, on the same level as the attempts to prove that Beckmesser in DIE MEISTERSINGER is an anti-Semitic parody.

    Even though Mahler is absurdly over-rated and over-promoted by Jewish shills like Lebrecht, he is still one of the great composers after Wagner and well-worth the effort required to appreciate him.

    I would like to invite Brenton Sanderson to contact me at editor@counter-currents.com. I would like to make his acquaintance and discuss some possible projects.

    • Geiseric's Gravatar Geiseric
      April 16, 2011 - 5:29 am | Permalink

      Greg Johnson:”Mahler converted out of Judaism, and I think we need to respect that decision.”

      Are you saying it was sincere?

      “Although I don’t think religious conversion changes race, with Jews it often is indicative of low levels of Jewish ethnocentrism and even a strong antipathy to Judaism and Jewish culture.”


      “Lebrecht is a joke and embarrassment even among Jews, but there is an industry staffed mostly by Jews with a few amateur anti-Semites chipping in dedicated to arguing that Mahler is in some meaningful sense a Jewish composer. As musicology, it is rubbish, on the same level as the attempts to prove that Beckmesser in DIE MEISTERSINGER is an anti-Semitic parody.”

      What has been an important part of mainstream academic discourse for decades cannot be reduced to “Jews and amateur anti-Semites”.

      “Even though Mahler is absurdly over-rated and over-promoted by Jewish shills like Lebrecht, he is still one of the great composers after Wagner and well-worth the effort required to appreciate him.”

      He is “one of the great composers after Wagner” from your (philo-semitic?) perspective, yes. You’re entitled to your opinion, just as anybody else.

    • April 19, 2011 - 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Right on, Greg Johnson. No question that Mahler benefited from Tribal promotion, then and now. And no question that several of his symphonies have real value. To us. Especially the 2nd, wherein he celebrated his conversion to Christianity. It’s by far his best, and no accident this. In a larger sense, individual genius transcends race: I can think of quite a few individual Jews who wrote worthwhile music: Mendelssohn, Bloch, Castelnuovo-Tedesco…but the collective Jew-problem, personified by the likes of gatekeeper Leonard Bernstein, remains to be solved.

  14. John hearns's Gravatar John hearns
    April 15, 2011 - 11:44 pm | Permalink

    @ dc

    [ Are we not being a little simplistic here? Of the millions of jews can we not allow even a handful to have both ability and integrity? ]

    I thought the whole issue was the incredible over-hype that jews receive because of their tribal connections in high places .
    If there is a backlash then that is very understandable and very refreshing , but , it does not even begin to bring things in to balance !
    If someone puffs themselves up way – way – way out of proportion , then it is natural that others will want to deflate that person .
    Would you agree ?

    • dc's Gravatar dc
      April 16, 2011 - 12:28 am | Permalink

      Yes, absolutely.

      The real point of the piece is jew puffery and self-promotion.

      But you will agree that the majority of posters have given us non-stop verbal diarrhea about the intrinsic worthlessness of Jew creations. Hitler was quite correct in my opinion, they must go because they are killing us. To jump from there to the idea that anything any jew creates is worthless crap is stupid.

  15. dc's Gravatar dc
    April 15, 2011 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Ooops! forgot the quotations.
    “Wes Herd dies’ auch sei, hier muß ich rasten.”
    “Veni, veni creator spiritus.”
    What do you ninnies say when Mahler teams up with Goethe?

  16. dc's Gravatar dc
    April 15, 2011 - 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Time to be daringly unpopular.

    Are we not being a little simplistic here? Of the millions of jews can we not allow even a handful to have both ability and integrity? Culture is surely not a competition. I don’t want to rate Carl Nielsen against Sibelius, or Vaughn Williams against Shostakovitch. If you can’t hear what Mahler says in his symphonies then don’t listen. But it might pay to think that music requires both a composer and an educated listener.
    Personal note : one of my most significant musical experiences was a chance meeting with a later friend who claimed to know Wagner. Memories dim, but I am sure we sang a huge chunk of Die Walküre together. He is a yid, get over it. Oh, and he knows and recites Hölderlin.
    We may have to expel the tribe, but that should never blind us to individual merit. Adolf Eichmann knew this.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      April 15, 2011 - 11:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure I agree with the notion of educated listeners, as it comes uncomfortably close to modern art’s “you don’t like it because you don’t understand it” nonsense. No, I don’t like it because I don’t like it.

      If a piece of music has to be “understood” or explained to be appreciated, or requires an educated audience, then it never should’ve been a piece of music to begin with. It should’ve been an essay or a thesis. To me, music should transcend intellect, not pander to it. Once again, just my opinion.

      You are right about white advocates not acknowledging jewish artistic genius or black musical genius. Don’t doubt it, folks, it exists. Could any white actually have come up with what Scott Joplin did? I don’t honestly think so.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      April 15, 2011 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

      (Or could any black culture produce a Turlough O’Carolan? )

    • dc's Gravatar dc
      April 15, 2011 - 11:33 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jim,

      Try this : if music is only sensual appeal how are we to rate Bach or Beethoven over lift music? it certainly won’t be by majority vote. Understanding develops. When I was six Bach was just the endless tinkling of my mother’s harpsichord. The meaning only starts when you know the context. Bruckner and Mahler are noisy and impressive — who hasn’t happily “rooty-tooted” in time to Bruckner’s fourth? We don’t talk about it because it’s childish. We gain much more when we learn the before and after.

      Not arguing for snobbery, only for learning and enjoying the most we can.

    • Felix Grubel's Gravatar Felix Grubel
      April 16, 2011 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Also don’t like the term “educated listeners.” To dismiss someone as unable to appreciate what might actually be quite mediocre music as not an “educated listener” seems akin to the scoundrels in the story of the emporer’s new clothes, who told him that only the most refined, intelligent people were able to see his imperial majesty’s new finery.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      April 16, 2011 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

      “Understanding develops. When I was six Bach was just the endless tinkling of my mother’s harpsichord.”

      Well, I understand the point you’re making. I wonder if you’re using the phrase “educated” to describe what I’d call “artistically astute.” Remember, Bach did music for church goers, not college professors, and I believe Italian operas and Shakespeare’s plays were heard mostly by common folk, as well.

      I’m really not talking about sensual appeal at all. To me, that (sensual appeal) was the downfall of later composers. I guess I’m talking about inspiration, which is different. And Bach is the epitome of inspiration.

      Think about it…how is it possible that the highly mechanized, intricate and rather emotionally detached music of the Baroque era could be the vehicle for this man’s profound and divinely inspired ideas? What a paradox!

      I understand that there can only be one Bach. (In fact, I’ve read that the Baroque era ended right after J.S. Bach because there wasn’t any point in trying to best him…couldn’t be done.) But at some point, high art – the type created by Bach and Shakespeare – became disconnected from the culture that produced the high artists, and that was it’ds downfall. Now “high art” is for college professors.

      And the rest of us get pop music. (Or folk music, if we’re lucky.)

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 16, 2011 - 10:12 pm | Permalink

      dc: In your reply to Jim a few comments above, you backed off somewhat from your original, perfectly reasonable position when you wrote, “Not arguing for snobbery, only for learning and enjoying the most we can.”

      I don’t believe that you really mean to term what you previously typed “snobbery,” though that is the word you use. With respect, I simply think you are being needlessly apologetic over the assertion—one that ought to be made unapolegetically, without shame or fear, as it would be if the topic were particle physics or Persian verse of the late Sassanid period—that high Western music is as complex, rich, and, yes, difficult a subject as any that civilized man has ever created or explored or is likely to and, hence, is not one that can be picked up, as a dime is picked up from the sidewalk, by just any passerby. The notion that it can be appreciated, understood, and knowledgeably discussed by . . . oh, just about anybody, or at least by anybody sophisticated enough to tie his shoelaces without assistance, is the true (albeit inverted) snobbery, the snobbery of know-nothingism, which an old friend of mine once waggishly called the United States’ one genuine contribution to Western thought. It’s not hard to see that this inverted snobbery is epidemic in this country, perhaps now even more so than it was when Tocqueville noted it with wry dismay 160 years ago.

      In 1925, in Science and the Modern World, no less a non-dolt than Alfred North Whitehead wrote, “The science of pure mathematics, in its modern developments, may claim to be the most original creation of the human spirit. Another claimant for this position is music.” Having closely studied and lived with both these disciplines for much of my life, I second Whitehead’s view, and I recommend it to others.

      I have studiously avoided overly plain speaking since I began posting at TOO, on what I think is the reasonable ground that the line between plainspokenness and speech registering as insulting is a fine one, one whose crossing usually spells the end of profitable conversation. Yet I feel compelled to ask plainly at this juncture whether we are really to credit that something that can lay claim to being “the most original creation of the human spirit” is yet so baby-simple and perspicuous as to be appropriately treated or discussed with the sovereign impudence that the other gentlemen on this subthread bring to their comments?

      With regard to Western art music, as it does with regard to every other complex undertaking from philately to linguistic philosophy, Plato’s assertion holds true: opinion without techné is worthless. Thus I urge you, dc, to stand your ground, and I leave it to you and other readers to decide which comments on this thread merit the back of the Platonic hand.

    • dc's Gravatar dc
      April 16, 2011 - 11:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s nice to meet a fellow spirit : as I look up I can see the three volumes of the Principia.
      Yes, I think it obvious that the possibilities of musical expression depend on subtlety and complexity. It follows immediately that one needs time, a lot of time, to properly understand what is being expressed, however little the complexity is on display (e.g. Satie).
      By snobbery I mean self-important pretentiousness. I think Gershwin is crap, but I don’t want to sneer at someone who likes it … a little more time, a little more exposure in good company …
      A great man once said that music is just the formalized abstraction of the German language.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 17, 2011 - 12:52 am | Permalink

      dc: I agree about Gershwin, as it probably won’t surprise you to learn. Yet I still own several recordings of all his concert and solo music, most of them forty years old and older, and I won’t turn off the car radio if An American in Paris pops up.

      You and I are not the problem, however, nor for that matter are the other true music lovers I know. They are not sneerers, nor are we. They and we know that the way to assist someone who thinks that the top rung of the ladder is Rachmaninoff is, not to pull the ladder out from the bottom and cackle while the poor slob crashes to the ground, but to suggest in passing that if he is pleased with his ladder, he might want to consider having a look at the ladder over here, which extends several rungs higher still.

      On the other hand, sadly, this thread prominently features a number of commenters who are quick to insult Vaughan Williams, Debussy, Schoenberg, and the listeners that get pleasure from their music (and who would insult Stravinsky, Webern, Bartok, Honegger, and countless others if given half a chance). To them, a confessed liking for the unfamiliar, for the less readily accessible, or simply for the uncanonized (but by whom canonized?) is automatic ground for howls of derision and sneered claims of . . . here are those words again . . . snobbery and pretentiousness.

      Whatever appearances may be, I am not angry about this state of affairs. Nor, to the extent that you agree with me, do I think you are either. But it does leave me feeling pretty darn sad.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      April 17, 2011 - 9:21 am | Permalink

      You know what makes me sad, Pierre? Tens of millions of white construction and blue color workers shuckin’ and jivin’ to black rap music. I believe this is, in part, a result of early 20th century white composers (and their “critics”) deciding that high art was for the high minded. They couldn’t or wouldn’t compete with the highly original forms of jazz that were sweeping the West, music that led our culture down a degenerative path to the current pathetic musical landscape (which I call “the flatted third world.”)

      Bach begat Mozart and Mozart begat Beethoven. Who or what did Mahler and his generation begat? Philip Glass?

      “I think Gershwin is crap, but I don’t want to sneer at someone who likes it…” Thanks for that respectful attitude, dc. I hope I haven’t come across as disrespectful towards other people’s artistic opinions. I apologize if I have. Look, I’m not ashamed to admit it – I’m no expert on serious music. I AM, however, the world’s preeminent expert on what I like or don’t like (and why I like it or don’t like it.)

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      April 17, 2011 - 6:15 pm | Permalink

      of course I meant “collar”

  17. TabuLa Raza's Gravatar TabuLa Raza
    April 15, 2011 - 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I only listen to surf instrumentals. Of course, I was born in Santa Monica before 1950.

  18. martin's Gravatar martin
    April 15, 2011 - 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Mahler’s symphonies go on too long, except for the 4th, and they have dreadfully tedious passages. After the sixth symphony they are all really quite chronic and not worth the effort. Bruckner’s later symphonies, otoh, are more mature than his early efforts, but I won’t say “better” since his early symphonies are really quite beautiful. Mahler was very popular with young undergraduate types at one time since he was classical and thus something a bit different from pop and rock but at the same time easy listening (the early symphonies at least). But these days undergraduates seem to listen to rap.
    Mahler is only the second most over-rated composer in the world. The number one spot must surely go to Vaughan Williams.

  19. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    April 15, 2011 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    ” ‘ ….the composer lived during a period of great intellectual foment.…’ ”

    He also lived at a time (late 19th/early 20th century) when the importance of classical/symphonic/art music was in notable decline, at least in a cultural sense. Look through the vast list of composers who lived during this era, and you’ll see a who’s who of “who are they?”

    The common trait among most of these people (in my humble opinion) was their incompetence at connecting artistically with humanity at large. Some exceptions were Sibelius, Wagner and, at times, DeBussy. They were geniuses and, not surprisingly, household names today. There were others.

    Most composers from the later 19th century and beyond, however, were more into the tone poem thing and withdrawn into themselves, whether it was Mahler’s pretentious moodiness or Rachmaninoff’s silly sentimentality.

    Bach, Corelli (concerti grossi), Handel and Mozart, on the other hand, produced music that was larger than themselves, MUCH larger. Larger in an artistic and “human experience” sense. That’s why they’re remembered by billions of people today as musical giants and foundational.

    If you want to look at jewish musical genius from the early 20th century, look at Gershwin. Yes folks, he was a genius. And the black folk that Gershwin emulated also seemed to possess a genuine collective genius for improvisational music. I truly believe it’s representative of the way that the central-african mind thinks- a very strong tendency towards living for the moment (and at times disregarding consequences) – and shows why they’re so different than whites. It’s also probably why they TEND to make less than excellent engineers or inventors. It may be social, to a degree, but I’m guessing genetics play a huge part of it.

    Among the intellectual class, this “classical” music of the first half of the 20th century had to compete with a rising tide of creative popular music, much of it black (American) influenced, as well as a new recording and radio industry. In my opinion, people like Mahler assisted in the decline of their genre.

  20. John Doe's Gravatar John Doe
    April 15, 2011 - 7:20 am | Permalink

    To a German Musician: there’s not so long way from national socialism to national masochism. Du kannst deinen Schoenberg weiter hoeren. Only masochists can do that.

    • Markus's Gravatar Markus
      April 16, 2011 - 9:41 am | Permalink

      To John Doe: I know very little of the composers discussed here but I can say there is no link from National Socialism to national masochism without cultural emasculation. Is this not what the present article is trying to expose?

  21. Easson's Gravatar Easson
    April 15, 2011 - 6:13 am | Permalink

    Anton BRUCKNER was the true master outside of the Golden Quartet (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner), not Mahler. Bruckner’s 2nd Symphony is far superior to what has become Mahler’s signature symphony. There were many symphonists who were far superior to Mahler in the quality of their output. Brahms is another.

  22. Easson's Gravatar Easson
    April 15, 2011 - 6:10 am | Permalink

    Schoenberg should have been sterilized at birth.

  23. S Fowler's Gravatar S Fowler
    April 15, 2011 - 4:34 am | Permalink

    I had listened to a great deal of classical music, including Mahler, when I happened upon my first Bruckner symphony. What a revelation! It was immediately clear who Mahler’s teacher had been and to think that I was ignorant of the master’s music while admiring that of his student.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 16, 2011 - 5:32 am | Permalink

      Listen again, Mr. Fowler. There is no Brucknerian influence in Mahler’s music through the First Symphony. Strong echoes of Bruckner’s musical shapes and harmonies appear for the first time in the Second Symphony but just as quickly disappear thereafter, not to reappear till the grandiose part 1 of the Eighth Symphony.

      Note, too, that Mahler was never Bruckner’s student in any accepted sense of that term, nor was he even a regular attendee of Bruckner’s university lectures. There is a widely known letter from 1902 in which Mahler makes this very point: “I was never a pupil of Bruckner. The world thinks I studied with him because in my student days in Vienna I was so often in his company and was reckoned among his first disciples. In fact, I believe, that at one time my friend Krzyzanowski and I were his sole followers. In spite of the great difference in age between us, Bruckner’s happy disposition and his childlike, trusting nature rendered our relationship one of open friendship. Naturally the realization and understanding of his ideals which I then arrived at cannot have been without influence upon my course as artist and man. Hence I believe I am perhaps more justified than most others in calling myself his pupil and I shall always do so with deep gratitude.”

      As Mahler says, he was one of a very small circle of young students, all some thirty-five years younger than Bruckner, who expressed frank affection for the man and admiration for his music, feelings reciprocated by Bruckner. After Bruckner’s death, Mahler conducted the former’s music on many occasions. The works performed included three or four of Bruckner’s symphonies, the Te Deum, and at least one of his masses.

      Like Mr. Sanderson, I see no harm in admiring, even indeed loving, the very different music of these two men. The harm subsists in the ways that devious and deceitful men have used and abused their music and their lives and their characters in order to achieve nonmusical ends. Since Mr. Sanderson is writing about Mahler, he of course does not explore the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, and anti-Western aims of some who have written about Bruckner. Just as Norman Lebrecht is one of many to distort Mahler and his music for Judaic triumphalist ends, so too have many writers (notably the very formidable, very learned, very Christophobic Richard Taruskin) tried to blacken Bruckner’s name—and by extension the traditional Christian culture of the german-speaking lands—by associating him and his music with the fact that his most important scholarly redactor, Robert Haas, was active during the period of Hitler’s ascendancy, was no friend of the Jews or Judaism, and may have been a party member. (Since virtually everyone who has written about Haas in the past thirty years has been a self-identified Jew of the smuggest sort, one should hesitate to believe anything written about him that isn’t accompanied by unimpeachable documentary evidence.)

  24. Athanasius's Gravatar Athanasius
    April 14, 2011 - 11:52 pm | Permalink

    I’ll tell you what else is frustrating. Not only do they promote untalented co-ethnics, they subvert talented whites. How the hell did Brooksley Born end up marrying a Jew?

  25. A German Musician's Gravatar A German Musician
    April 14, 2011 - 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Ah…. I would like to add: the article itself is brilliant, and we need more of this kind.

  26. A German Musician's Gravatar A German Musician
    April 14, 2011 - 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Some of the comments about the value of Mahler’s compositions are ashaming. Yes, his music has Jewish influences, and it is, in a certain way, the genial expression of a sick mind. One can like other composers better (so do I), and he certainly was not the biggest composer of symphonies after Beethoven, but what does it matter? He gave his contribution, an innovative and interesting contribution. You cannot deny that he had an exceptional talent. All the other non-musical aspects like how he is idealized and abused by Jewish ideologist is simply another issue. Those interpretations of his music are just fantasies. In conclusion, it reveals a bad character if one cannot accept that talented Jewish musicians might exist.

    • Brenton Sanderson's Gravatar Brenton Sanderson
      April 15, 2011 - 1:19 am | Permalink

      My argument is not that Mahler was not a talented composer – he undoubtedly was. The point is that he was no greater than, say, Bruckner or Sibelius, and yet thanks to the Jewish contruction of genius he has taken on a ridiculously inflated cultural status.

    • Athanasius's Gravatar Athanasius
      April 15, 2011 - 1:26 am | Permalink

      I think that’s exactly right. He wasn’t devoid of talent, but to mention him in the same breath as Beethoven or Mozart?

    • Anglo Saxon's Gravatar Anglo Saxon
      April 16, 2011 - 5:26 pm | Permalink

      @ A German Musician [April 14, 2011 – 8:26 pm]

      Your comment reminds me of Dubai’s speculative building boom that has recently collapsed. Their two decade long motto was … “build it and they will come”.

      Well, nobody is coming (going) right now! The party’s over. There have been many bankruptcies, and some developments, still in the throws of construction, have been abandoned, while others will soon be torn down in the hope of solving the ridiculous glut of office space, hotel rooms, and overpriced apartment space.

      My point is this. One could argue there is a concordance here with the Mahler compositions. One could say that any talentless composer (such as Mahler) is free to become a ‘successful’ composer. The assumption being that so long as the scores were complete, and orchestrally reproducible, then people (audiences) would surely come. And, as your morally timid comment demonstrates … the people have certainly gone to listen to and applaud the noise that Mahler fans slavishly call ‘symphonies’.

      As I wrote earlier. I had contempt for Gustav Mahler’s ‘music’ long (i.e., many years) before I learned he was in fact ‘Jewish’. So, I my contempt was not motivated in any way by politics or his faux ethnicity. I say again: Mahler’s music is atonal, and is little more than noise posing as music.

      Nevertheless, some of you may insist on foolishly attaching the label “talented” even to those who can somehow produce such scores on paper. Similarly, those who manage to consistently cook tasteless and unedifying food — such as McDonalds or KFC — are described as “talented” by some people. Such examples certainly demonstrate that in this crazy world, it is indeed possible to make a lot of money by boldly demonstrating one’s lack of talent!

      Ask yourself, how many stupid and vapid Pop songs have made it to the “Number One” spot during the past three decades?

      Build it and they will come. Clearly, both Gustav Mahler and Dubai’s Sheiks have profited from exploiting the mental and moral weakness possessed by rather too many people; who then have the effrontery to turn around and complain … why is my culture riddled with crooks and charlatans??


    • AlmostMusicPhD's Gravatar AlmostMusicPhD
      April 27, 2011 - 11:03 am | Permalink

      Sehr Geehrter Herr:

      While no one is denying that Mahler tried his ‘darndest’ to be thought of as a ‘serious musician,’ the overt pandering of those within his racial ‘in-group’ to divinize him, is the ‘false tone’ of all of this article.

      Had I had this wonderul deconstruction of the ‘JudenRassSupremacismus’ available to me while I was writing my Doctoral degree music history term papers, I could have made an even stronger case that Jews only compliment Jews, and their megalomania is tied to the inverse square relationship as they are made to realize, time and time again, that they are NOT the ‘Chosen People’ – for the Church and Christendom are the “Israel of God” [Gal. 6:16]: but, more importantly, they are not even ‘Jews’ – as Koestler wrote about in ‘The Thirteenth Tribe.’

      We are at a defining moment in world history. The entire globe is learning that the Jews are the “Emperor with no clothes,” and they KNOW that WE know- and are doing damage control to try and keep the ‘goyim’ (i.e., Yiddish for cattle) in the dark. But, apart from some Dispensationalist Crypto-Christian Zionists, not many people are buying that tripe anymore.

      Phenomenal article, by the way. More of same, please
      (and thanks for the referent to Bernstein: another narcissistic Jew, who ended his days getting blow jobs from his gay ‘groupies,’ right before he went onstage to conduct in his self-indulgent manner, needing an oxygen tank, for all those cigarettes that he smoked for decades. Another WAY over-ranked composer of the Jewish stripe, whose WSS is merely Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, with a mambo beat. UGH.

  27. PeteR's Gravatar PeteR
    April 14, 2011 - 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Earlier this afternoon I listened to a long interview on my local public radio station with Jewish author Lawrence Krauss about Jewish physicist Richard Feynman. “He was a genius!! A luminary!! An iconoclast!! An intellectual rebel!! Psst, you do know that he was the victim of WASP anti-semitism, don’t you?”

  28. Athanasius's Gravatar Athanasius
    April 14, 2011 - 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I agree with most of the comments here. This really is a brilliant article. It is exactly a medicine we need–a sober, factual, and thorough deconstruction of how Jews use this positions of privilege to control the cultural narrative. If this type of article doesn’t open people’s eyes, I don’t know what will.

    From Elena Kagan to Howard Stern, our society is flooded with dubious characters of little talent who are enjoying great success merely out of other Jewish constructed narrative.

    • Felix Grubel's Gravatar Felix Grubel
      April 16, 2011 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

      “From Elena Kagan to Howard Stern, our society is flooded with dubious characters of little talent who are enjoying great success merely out of other Jewish constructed narrative.”

      Why should anyone be surprised. At the heart of all great religions (and philosophies) lies the question, “Is it true?” At the heart of Judaism lies the question, “But is it good for the Jews?” They simply do not share the same moral standard common to most of Western civilization.

  29. Student's Gravatar Student
    April 14, 2011 - 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow! The most impressive article I’ve seen on TOO for quite some time! I’m looking forward to more material from you, Mr. Sanderson.

    • Brenton Sanderson's Gravatar Brenton Sanderson
      April 14, 2011 - 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the positive feedback. Another essay of mine will appear in an upcoming edition of TOQ.

  30. Venona's Gravatar Venona
    April 14, 2011 - 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Great article! A contemporary Mahler might be the genius Robert Zimmerman.

  31. El Cid's Gravatar El Cid
    April 14, 2011 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Brenton, I note with some interest that a couple comments have mentioned Jean Sibelius. Might I suggest a companion article to this one that examines the role of Jewish music critics in the perception of Sibelius, especially in the post-World War 2 period in which Mahler’s status was elevated? In Wikipedia’s discussion of the reception of his work, it quotes the following from an essay that Adorno wrote in 1938, over two decades before he would laud Mahler in the piece you quoted:

    “If Sibelius is good, this invalidates the standards of musical quality that have persisted from Bach to Schoenberg: the richness of inter-connectedness, articulation, unity in diversity, the ‘multi-faceted’ in ‘the one’.”

    Likewise, it also quotes Rene Leibowitz as describing Sibelius as “the worst composer in the world”. Oddly enough, he wrote that thirty years after Sibelius had largely ceased composing.

    One wonders what Sibelius might have done to deserve such opprobrium. Could it be that these critics objected to his role in helping establish a cultural foundation for the nascent Finnish state? Might his contribution to the establishment of a cultural identity for a European nation built largely on ethnic homogeneity rubbed someone such as Adorno the wrong way? A more in-depth exploration of the reception of Sibelius’ music might serve as an interesting case study for this site. It would involve the intersection of such relevant themes as the construction/destruction of culture and genius, the Culture of Critique, and that culture’s treatment of a European nationalist movement, one which posed no threat to Jews and produced a nation fiercely protective of its tiny Jewish population.

    Perhaps the most relevant quote on music critics (regardless of ethnicity), comes from Sibelius himself: “Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic.”

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      April 16, 2011 - 10:57 pm | Permalink

      El Cid: Permit me to answer a few of your explicit and implicit questions (this is an area I know something about). Interest in, affection for, and performances of Sibelius’s music have proceeded along utterly unsurprising and indeed conventional historical lines. At the time of his death (1957), he had barely composed anything for thirty years, not least because he was fonder of what the Irish call “the drink” than of composing (his interest in the latter declined in direct proportion as his consumption of the former rose). JS’s conservative modernist style of composition had attracted a wide audience, even in the cultural backwater of the USA, since at least the twenties. Not least among his ardent advocates were (the Russian Jew) Serge Koussevitzky, music director of the BSO from 1924 to 1949, and Sir Thomas Beecham, who spent the entirety of the war years and much time otherwise conducting in this country. Toscanini also programmed JS’s music in his NBC Symphony broadcasts, and anything new or newish performed by Toscanini on the radio promptly developed a following on these shores.

      By 1957, however, most of JS’s original advocates were dead or practically so, and the bulk of younger conductors and critics thought of him as old hat (precisely the same thing happened to J. S. Bach and Mozart, of course, among many, many others). Yet as it happens, I vividly recall JS’s death, because in that year—the year I began listening to serious music in earnest—WQXR (then one of several New York City classical music stations, now the sole one [owned until 2010 by the Sulzberger family’s New York Times]) commemorated the sad occasion by playing recordings of all his symphonies, the violin concerto, and many of the tone poems (that’s where I first heard them). So even in the late fifties JS had a notable reputation.

      The real turnabout began in the mid-sixties and continued through the seventies and eighties, though even then every violinist of note recorded the concerto and performed it almost as frequently as the Brahms and more often than the Tchaikovsky. (Note, too, that two of the most admired recordings of all the Sibelius symphonies—those of Colin Davis with the BSO and Karajan and Okko Kamu with the BPO—date from the seventies, the decade of lowest interest.)

      Since the nineties, audience interest in Sibelius has regained its pre-war peak and indeed greatly surpassed it. Critical esteem has if anything outstripped popular acclaim. You could do far worse than consult the Gramophone magazine online database to get a very clear picture of what some of today’s most thoughtful British critics think of Sibelius’s music.

  32. EuroMike's Gravatar EuroMike
    April 14, 2011 - 11:32 am | Permalink

    I was introduced to Mahler while in college by a fellow student in my dorm. I could never figure out the appeal. The music always sounded a bit weird to me. Not my cup of tea at all.
    Same goes for the required reading of Freud. I couldn’t make sense of him. I wondered then, and do now, how could such insanity have ever received such credibility?

  33. Jesus laughs's Gravatar Jesus laughs
    April 14, 2011 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    My two cents : Mahlar was the Gilbert and Sullivan of classical music. A cut and paste improviser .I’m sure he could be done for plagiarism with a bit of computing savy.

    • Rod Mckenzie's Gravatar Rod Mckenzie
      April 14, 2011 - 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Comparing him to Gilbert and Sullivan is silly. G & S never intended their work to be taken as anything other than light frivolous entertainment, never trying to pass themselves off as serious competition for Italian or German Opera. On the other hand, Mahler obviously took himself very seriously and tried to compete with the great composers like Beethoven, Mozart, etc.

    • Easson's Gravatar Easson
      April 15, 2011 - 6:18 am | Permalink

      …and made himself look silly as a result!

      As we say in Scotland, he ‘got ideas above his station’.

  34. ned's Gravatar ned
    April 14, 2011 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    @ anglo saxon:
    “Anyone who sincerely and truly believes Gustav Mahler is a composer of ‘music’ has (I would suggest) psychological and/or emotional problems that urgently need attention.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth. :) I’d also like to add that no one has yet surpassed Herr Van Beethoven. They all still ‘walk in his shadow.’

  35. Rich Pearson's Gravatar Rich Pearson
    April 14, 2011 - 8:07 am | Permalink

    I was never familiar with him, and after reading some comments on this blog about him over a year ago – and being a fan of unusual modernist music – I decided to give him a listen. I listened to hours of dreck.

    Then I found this:


    Whatever it is, it made me laugh out loud.

  36. John Doe's Gravatar John Doe
    April 13, 2011 - 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Mahler’s symphonies are a boring junk. You can feel it in his music, that he was mentally ill.
    Bach is still number one. Mozart and Schubert are also excellent.

  37. Vickie Bartholomaus's Gravatar Vickie Bartholomaus
    April 13, 2011 - 10:47 pm | Permalink

    A musician myself, I find Mahlers’ music severely ugly.
    It is nothing less than boring.. My US life view has been framed by jewish media of mostly jewish people.

  38. dc's Gravatar dc
    April 13, 2011 - 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Veni, veni creator spiritus. Do I have that right?

  39. Ciaran's Gravatar Ciaran
    April 13, 2011 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

    My favorite composer of all time. The Big B!

    • Barkingmad's Gravatar Barkingmad
      April 14, 2011 - 6:06 pm | Permalink

      The biggest B is B-A-C-H

  40. April 13, 2011 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

    “Yiddish, a dialect that changes meaning by gesture and inflection. Any statement in Yiddish can be made to mean the opposite… ”

    I recall that some Oxford “linguistic” philosopher was lecturing at NYU back in the 70s or so, and opined that while in some languages, two negatives equal a positive, there is no language where two positives equal a negative. In the pause, a voice in the back muttered [no doubt in a heavy Brooklyn accent]: “Yeah, yeah…”

    • Erik Nordman's Gravatar Erik Nordman
      April 16, 2011 - 9:55 pm | Permalink

      “Any statement in Yiddish can be made to mean the opposite…”

      Wow, so these advanced and unique Jews possess irony and sarcasm? How awesome IS that?!

  41. April 13, 2011 - 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Excellent piece!

    Mahler and his lickspittles are a clear example of what I’ve dubbed the Cockroaches [after Kafka, ‘natch]. Now I wish I had done more with the Why Mahler book than write up a blog post based on the WSJ review, although I do include an even better photo of Berstein Mahlerizing that shows why the 60s, in fact. sucked.

  42. Felix Grubel's Gravatar Felix Grubel
    April 13, 2011 - 6:29 pm | Permalink

    After Shakespeare’s works, the next most popular playwright in the English language is Neil Simon. Without Jewish networking, Mr. Simon, the second rate mediocrity, would never have gotten out of Brighton Beach. Think about it: Can you recall anything Neil Simon wrote that struck you as timeless, worthy of quoting or even worth remembering?

    When I see that a critique or commentator is Jewish, I always take his or her opinions and recommendations with a huge grain of salt…especially if the work they’re critiquing is by a fellow tribesman.

  43. m's Gravatar m
    April 13, 2011 - 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Mahler’s symphony work was typically overdone, and he could have used an editor–much like Bruckner. For instance, No.2 showed remarkable brilliance, Urlicht and the last half of the fifth movement, but it is mostly average “filler” orchestration. His lieder inspired works fare best, and are worth owning. Really, with some few exceptions, nothing much of interest can be found after Wagner.

    • Joe Webb's Gravatar Joe Webb
      April 13, 2011 - 11:11 pm | Permalink

      there was a Mendelsohn concert series recently in Menlo Park which was hosted by a local Jew organization. expensive tickets, funny looking ushers. Joe

    • Joe Webb's Gravatar Joe Webb
      April 13, 2011 - 11:14 pm | Permalink

      nothing much after Wagner? hoo-boy! the Kultur critic has SP..o..ken!

      Can we have an argument rather than oracular declaration? Jeezee.

    • m's Gravatar m
      April 16, 2011 - 6:34 am | Permalink

      Few exceptions does not mean none. Some Debussy, especially Pelleas (although Maeterlinck’s libretto requires some rethinking), Sibelius (as is mentioned in other posts), Ives’ 4th along with a representative sample of his smaller works, and so forth can be cited. I could have said “little of interest,” I suppose. As the Bard advised, “We must speak by the card or equivocation will undo us.”

  44. maxsnafu's Gravatar maxsnafu
    April 13, 2011 - 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I have been following classical music for over forty years and have heard of NO ONE who takes Norman Lebrecht seriously about anything he says.

  45. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    April 13, 2011 - 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Its amazing how the White man created modern civilization and the entire time this was being accomplished the jew was always there acting as parasite and cancer. The White man did it in spite of the nasty jew.

    Imagine how much might have been accomplished if not for the meddling of the creepy jew. Just think of the hundreds of millions of White men they have gotten killed in wars down through history.

    The only thing they are good at is destroying civilization and the White man and making as much money as possible in the process. They are the only shortcoming of the White man who should have wiped them off the planet a long time ago.

  46. Philip's Gravatar Philip
    April 13, 2011 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Many Jewish leaders seem fixated on trying to claim credit for Western Civilization. The problem they encounter is that in just about every endeavor at which they take a look there are non-Jews who top whatever Jews are being promoted. Newton (law of gravity, laws of motion, calculus) tops Einstein. Shakespeare and Goethe top any Jewish writer. Beethoven and other non-Jews top any Jewish composer. Non-Jewish painters top Jewish ones. Non-Jewish sculptors top Jewish ones. And so on and so on. Hence, the Jews confront a dilemma: how to claim credit for bringing civilization to the benighted white natives of Europe.

    • Ciaran's Gravatar Ciaran
      April 13, 2011 - 9:06 pm | Permalink

      Einstien was a thief, and a fraud. So he was a “Jewish genius” after all…

    • Scooter's Gravatar Scooter
      April 13, 2011 - 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Well put by both of you gentlemen. If Einstein were not jewish, we would have hardly ever heard of him. Where do you think Goebbels got the idea for “the bigger the lie the better?”

  47. John hearns's Gravatar John hearns
    April 13, 2011 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

    The wacky self chosen buggers are so completely mental with themselves that they are very dangerous to everyone .

    And ,
    In his master piece painting , he was checking on his stash of shekels ?

  48. Petronius's Gravatar Petronius
    April 13, 2011 - 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Allright, but don’t blame Mahler for this questionable cult: he is up there with the greatest, maybe not of all time, but of his time, like Strauss, Bruckner, Sibelius, Elgar…

    • Someday's Gravatar Someday
      April 13, 2011 - 3:14 pm | Permalink

      And Wagner ? The Wagner cult had some unpleasant consequences. So will the Mahler cult.

    • Felix Grubel's Gravatar Felix Grubel
      April 13, 2011 - 6:46 pm | Permalink

      “The Wagner cult had some unpleasant consequences. So will the Mahler cult.”

      I never thought of that. I wonder if they play Mahler in the IDF torture chambers to drown out their victims screams and cries of agony.

    • Jesus Laughs's Gravatar Jesus Laughs
      April 14, 2011 - 9:15 am | Permalink

      Sibelius? His Symphonies are very unique.

  49. Someday's Gravatar Someday
    April 13, 2011 - 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Laudatory references to Mahler are everywhere. In a recent work ‘ Supercooperators’ (which casts doubt on kin selection ) Martin Nowak (a German beneficiary of substantial donations from Jeffrey Epstein) takes time out from mathematical biology to criticize the kind of Darwinist thinking that led (so he supposes) to US immigration restriction. He ends the book by eulogizing Mahler’s Song of the Earth.

    Ambitious public intellectuals can not do better than cite supposed affinities that their thinking has with Mahler, I wish I could believe that they do it consciously.

  50. Anglo Saxon's Gravatar Anglo Saxon
    April 13, 2011 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Sanderson. Excellent article! Good depth and analysis.

    I was introduced to the music of Gustav Mahler in circa 1994, during a car journey from London to the South Coast of England. It was a cassette being played on the vehicle’s sound system.

    I was actually endeavouring to doze, but the sheer pain resulting from my ears attempting to resist the atonal assault upon my senses was too much. The driver of the car — a business partner — was a likeable fellow, but after this experience I did begin to question his sanity (thoughts only) when learning of his admiration for this utterly useless and talentless ‘composer’.

    Of course, at the time I had absolutely no idea Mahler was ‘Jewish’. At the time, I was led to believe he was Swedish, so I attributed Mahler’s typically depressing and deep grey music to a lack of Vitamin D, or to overdosing on Vodka.

    Anyone who sincerely and truly believes Gustav Mahler is a composer of ‘music’ has (I would suggest) psychological and/or emotional problems that urgently need attention.

    If you want to know what real music sounds like, try this for the health of your soul:
    or this:

    As for future strategies, I would echo and commend most of what Frank Edwin Stone proposed a little earlier (see above) … most especially this bit of a gem:

    The only way to deal with it is to outlaw Judaism as a criminal conspiracy against mankind masquerading as a religion.

    Bravo Frank!!

    • Anglo Saxon's Gravatar Anglo Saxon
      April 13, 2011 - 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I almost forgot.

      This White Man’s music has the power to bring tears of sublime joy to even the stoutest of hearts.

      Listen, watch the Conductor, and tremble at the brilliance of White Civilization’s creative capacity!!!!!!!!!!!


      I bow to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a masterly rendition. Thank you … even if your city is (sadly) home to the Oblama Empty Suit, and the joker known as the Israeli Ballerina.

    • Ciaran's Gravatar Ciaran
      April 13, 2011 - 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Anglo Saxon – bless you forever for posting the divine Bach pieces!

    • Hans's Gravatar Hans
      April 14, 2011 - 11:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, great music. And by the way:

      “The only way to deal with it is to outlaw Judaism as a criminal conspiracy against mankind masquerading as a religion.”

      I’ve read it as “Judaism is a racial crime syndicate masquerading as a religion.” Attributed to some twentieth century Catholic priest.

  51. Joanne Dee's Gravatar Joanne Dee
    April 13, 2011 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    The only credit I acknowledge to the often mythical ‘exceptional Jewish capability and intellect’ is their masterful skill at deceiving themselves even more than their perceived “historical enemies.”

    Although I despise the man himself, I do like to repeat one of his most memorable statements: Any people who have been persecuted for thousands of years having to be doing something wrong… Henry Kissinger. In truth, they are their only enemy.

  52. Frank Edwin Stone's Gravatar Frank Edwin Stone
    April 13, 2011 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    There is nothing like Jewish self-centeredness and self-promotion in the history of the world.
    It is a unique phenomenon , because it is Mafia-like in its methods and mentality. Dishonesty and deception,
    a complete lack of any moral restraints versus the Goyim are necessary weapons for its success.

    The only way to deal with it is to outlaw Judaism as a criminal conspiracy against mankind masquerading as a religion. The penalties should be on par with the statutes for criminal conspiracy concerning drug dealing in the USA, which are extremely harsh. The threshold of proof should also be as low as it is in drug related criminal conspiracies in the USA, which is almost no-existent.

    If they do not like, they should go to Israel.
    They could make peace with the Palestinian refugees by BUYING the land they took by force.
    They have enough money too do that.

    • Felix Grubel's Gravatar Felix Grubel
      April 13, 2011 - 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Well said. What makes Jewish complaints about being the “outsider” especially tiresome is that their religion goes to such great lengths to make them so. It is THEIR religion that cut them off from others’ first. But, it is oh so convenient to put the blame on the goyim instead for their feelings of anxiety.

      If Mahler felt like an outsider, (and I do like his music), he should have looked in the mirror and recognized it wasn’t the goyim who made him an outcast, it was his own people, his family and his rabbis who raised him in a tradition that declared he should be set apart that made him an outsider. IOW, he should have manned up, stopped whining and accepted that his status as an outsider was effectively self-imposed and brought about by his own community and stopped adolescently resenting everyone else for not accepting him. (Talk about a neurosis!)

  53. anne's Gravatar anne
    April 13, 2011 - 12:02 pm | Permalink

    If it helps, we were always taught that Abbie Hoffman was a huge genius, too. So, a lot of students probably don’t take it very seriously.

    • Rehmat's Gravatar Rehmat
      April 14, 2011 - 11:29 am | Permalink

      Abe Foxman wrote in his book ‘Never Again’ had claimed that the New Testament is anti-Semitic and played a major part in Nazis’ Holocaust. He is major part of Jewish lobby groups who rained over US politics. Their influence can be judged by the fact that more than 50% of the Senators are looking forward to attend Israel Lobby (AIPAC) foreign policy conference on May 22-24, 2011.


    • Anglo Saxon's Gravatar Anglo Saxon
      April 14, 2011 - 3:01 pm | Permalink

      @ Rehmat.

      My friend, you need to use “reigned” in the context of your comment, and not “rained”.

      Regards, AS.

    • Scooter's Gravatar Scooter
      April 14, 2011 - 9:23 pm | Permalink

      In a way, they rained piss all over the reigning US politicos, so maybe he meant that?

  54. a tasso's Gravatar a tasso
    April 13, 2011 - 11:59 am | Permalink

    Brilliantly complete!

Comments are closed.