CHAPTFR VII
FORM, TEXTURE AND ORCHESTRATION

THE forms of Mahler's music undergo a gradual process of refinement and increasing complexity without ever entirely giving up their basic simplicity. A case in point are the songs. The simple strophic Lied (with interpolated contrasting sections) remains the model for many of his earlier songs; later on a subtle change towards a more symphonic structure takes effect, still within the narrow limits of the romantic song; last of all his songs are planned on a more ambitious scale.

A similar gradual development is noticeable in his textures as the diatonic homophony and two-part counterpoint of the earlier songs and symphonies changes almost imperceptibly to the more polyphonic manner of the middle symphonies. It is quite possible that Mahler's increasing interest in Bach led to the adoption of polyphonic technique in the symphonies of his maturity; but it should not be forgotten that Mahler was a born contrapuntist and that writing in canonically intertwined parts came quite easily to him (see Ex. 15). I for one believe that his growing predilection for strict polyphony had something to do with his tendency to avoid excessive chromaticism and the over-seasoned harmony of the late romantics. It is a fact worth noting that fugal writing crops up for the first time in his work in the finale of Symphony V and that great variety of texture is pro- vided by the only sets of variations Mahler ever composed: the Adagio of Symphony IV and the two somewhat similarly planned rondo, finales of Symphonies V and VII. The climax of these tendencies was surely reached in the colossal double fugue in the first part of Symphony VIII ( 'Ductore praevio') and also by the fugal sections of the 'Rondo-Burleske' in Symphony IX. Mahler's astonishing mastery of strict fugal writing helped him to exercise the vitality of his creative faculties, but it was as little an end in itself as was Bruckner's rarely displayed skill in the writing of choral fugues. Both were consciously following Beethoven in their application of

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