Jaren Hinckley

Composer / Clarinetist


I’m Listening to Everything Composed by Mahler

November 19, 2015



When anyone asks me who my favorite composer is, I can never answer definitively, because it is constantly changing and shifting as I learn and listen and discover more.  BUT, fairly consistently for over ten years now, Gustav Mahler is always in my top three.


For most of his career, Mahler was a conductor at various opera houses, including the Staatsoper in Vienna, Austria.  As a conductor, there are many demands on one’s time.  Mahler was constantly studying scores and prepping for each new production.  But he still wanted to compose.  Mahler realized that staying in town during breaks in the music season and trying to compose was impossible because people would constantly call upon him for some reason or other.  To find the time to compose, he simply left town each summer to avoid any distractions.  He and his sister Justi went to a place called Steinbach-am-Attersee in Austria.  They stayed in a nice hotel where he could work without distraction.


This hotel was near a beautiful Alpine lake called Attersee. In fact, the main picture here on my website is me sitting on a pier at this very lake. It remains one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. Mahler decided that the hotel wasn’t quite without distractions, so he had a composition hut built right next to the lake.


Here’s me with the key to the hut.Jane's Camera 2-week excursion Italy and Salzburg part two 401


And the directions to the hut:

Jane's Camera 2-week excursion Italy and Salzburg part two 402







And me standing in the doorway of the hut:

Jane's Camera 2-week excursion Italy and Salzburg part two 417

















And my cute youngest daughter running around the hut.



Janny and hut

This is where he composed his 2nd and 3rd symphonies.

In fact, the background image of this website is me sitting on a pier in the lake near the composition hut.

TITLE:  Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”



Here’s  a brief run-down on what this symphony is “about,” roughly in the words of Mahler himself.


1st mvt:  “What is life and what is death? Will we live on eternally? Is it all an empty dream or do our life and death have a meaning?”

2nd mvt: A blissful moment in the dear departed’s life and a sad recollection of his youth and lost innocence.

3rd mvt:  the bustle and turmoil of daily life—life goes on even if you are troubled

Here’s a clip.  Watch from where it starts for just a few minutes and you’ll get the idea.

4th mvt:  An angel shows up (in the form of a mezzo-soprano) and sings “you came from God and you will return to God!”

5th mvt: The actual Resurrection.  The voice of God calling us forth from our graves. After a lot of turmoil in the orchestra, in Mahler’s words:  In the eerie silence that follows, we can just barely make out a distant nightingale, a last tremulous echo of earthly life. The gentle sound of a chorus of saints and heavenly hosts is then heard: “Rise again!” Then God in all His glory comes into sight. A wondrous light strikes us to the heart. A feeling of overwhelming love fills us with blissful knowledge and illuminates our existence.”

HIGHLIGHT:  For me, the highlight of this symphony is undoubtedly the 5th mvt.  Just take a listen and read the subtitles and I dare you not to get chills and/or weepy.

Here’s a six or seven minute clip that will change your life (I hope): (It should start right at 1:26:00 and you should pretty much watch it until the end).

Of his first two symphonies (Symphony #1 was discussed in an earlier blog post), Mahler said: My whole life is contained in them:  I have set down in them my experience and suffering…to anyone who knows how to listen, my whole life will become clear, for my creative works and my existence are so closely interwoven that, if my life flowed as peacefully as a stream through a meadow, I believe I would no longer be able to compose anything.

Personally, I think you should go back to the YouTube clips I provided and watch from 00:00 to the end.  But that’s just my opinion…

WHAT’S LEFT TO LISTEN TO BY MAHLER?:  Quite a lot.  But I’ll do it, because I just love Mahler so much!