Abstracts of issue 12-13 (2000)
Book Review

Constantin Floros
Gustav Mahler
I. Die geistige Welt Gustav Mahlers in systematischer Darstellung, Breitkopf & Hδrtel, Wiesbaden 1987 (2).
II. Mahler und die Symphonik des 19. Jahrhunderts in neuer Deutung, Breitkopf & Hδrtel, Wiesbaden 1987 (2).
III. Die Symphonien, Breitkopf & Hδrtel, Wiesbaden 1985.
Review by: Markos Tsetsos


Constantin Floros, Gustav MahlerFrom the numerous volumes written about Mahler, one can distinguish only a few monographs that provide a concrete, uniform and wittingly different hermeneutical and methodological point of view. The specific and clear hermeneutical attitude of C. Floros emerges, as he makes a stand of the programmatic elements in Mahler’s whole symphonic work, as well as by his support to musical aesthetics and heteronomy in general that flows from the idea about a humanistic mission of music. Floros’ attitude places his three-volume monograph next to Adorno’s and Eggebrecht’s ones, as well as next to more recent ones, such as those written by Danuser and Stenger.
Floros introduces a new method in the aesthetic discussion about Mahler’s work – the exegetic (“explanatory”). He thinks that this method should replace the older one – the hermeneutic. An essay on exegetic – the method that raises the request for a rigorous scientific approach – is the maximum possible avoidance of subjectivism in studying extra-musical factors of creation and in displaying the programmatic elements that is interested of.
In other words, the exegetic method of Floros attempts to define the particular through a given universal, running sometimes the risk to put the particular on the same level as the universal by abolishing the different. This problem has something to do with specific difficulties caused by the transition from Mahler’s wide range of philosophical, aesthetic and literary interests to the specific works that incarnate those interests. In order to avoid a plain symbolic, conventional and external relation between Mahler’s music and the universal “message” it carries, Floros interposes the concept of “experience” between the ideal form of the contents and the perceivable form of musical works.
This review sets forth the complex methodological issues posed by this monograph and approaches the concrete problems that preoccupy C. Floros: the relation between form and contents in music, the rising of the art from a simple representation of the apparent world to a critical attributing of meaning, the reconstruction of the ideological, literary, philosophical-aesthetic and musical-aesthetic prerequisites for understanding Mahler’s personality.
Apart from analyzing the contribution of Floros’ monograph in understanding Mahler’s personality, this review demonstrates also the methodological contributions of this monograph, by making references to the categorization and typology of the conventions used in symphonic creation during 19th century and to the critical and rational approach of the symbol in music.

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