MELODY, HARMONY AND COUNTERPOINT
ALTHOUGH Mahler's music in general shows a surprisingly steep upward trend of development, leading from a kind of neo-primitive simplicity and strict tonal diatonicism to the chromatically refined subtlety and rarefied atmosphere of the last symphonies, a number of static features of style are noticeable which seem to permeate his music up to the very end of his life. Their sum-total amounts to a specific personal idiom enabling the composer to turn even more clearly derivative melodies and eclectic harmonies into something intensely 'Mahlerian.'
The peculiar position of Mahler as a melodist whose eclectic allegiance to the Viennese classics in the widest sense (i.e. including Brahms and Bruckner) was never in doubt, and whose inclination towards Volkstümlichkeit may strike the observer of to-day as almost quixotic, is best explained by a morphological analysis of two typical symphonic subjects and an investigation of their stylistic ancestry. Both these melodies stand for an elemental side in Mahler's musical personality, the first representing, as it were, the Hungaric-Slavonic side of his artistic character, the other being a decidedly German type of Volksweise with manifold undertones and associations with other melodies, stored up in the subconscious memory of every German listener. Here is an example of the first type:
a savagely melancholy tune that forms an episode in the third movement of Symphony I. It foreshadows a deliberately vulgar and blatantly scored melody, 'Mit Parodie' (see Ex. 3), with a csárdás flavour, a cheap guitar-like pizzicato accompaniment and obstinately