Aspects of thematicity and form in the Scherzi of the Symphonies of Mahler. From programme to interiorisation?
In the course of global music history, the symphonic music of Gustav Mahler has been treated as a mixture of absolute and program music; views have leaned towards one side or the other, depending on the time context and the approach of each scholar. On the whole, conclusions have been based more on philological testimonies (footnotes on the scores, the composerís correspondence, his friends and colleaguesí accounts etc.) than the musical material itself as stated on the individual scores.
The increasing complexity of form and the thematic abstraction in some of the composerís symphonies (mainly from the Fourth symphony onwards) is not only indicative of the development of his personal style (at the level of absolute music) but is probably also connected to his gradual withdrawal from the standards of program music, since, in order to acquire a descriptive-program character, a composition needs to contain clearly defined and articulated musical entities, both at the level of thematic structure and form.
In the present paper we shall attempt to explore this development and at the same time detect possible connections between absolute and program music, by studying the thematic and formal aspects of certain scherzi of the composerís symphonies.