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Mahler’s youth in Iglau exposed him to a rich variety of music, much of it originating outside the symphonic and operatic traditions that eventually would occupy him professionally and creatively. The enclave’s provincial location and ethnic diversity gave rise to a singular mixture of folk music traditions. The garrison’s military bands made varied contributions to the city’s everyday sounds and musical life. And as a bastion of German liberalism, Iglau sustained many social, sacred, and municipal organizations that promoted the cultivation and performance of music. This chapter examines these repertories (fiddle music, folk song, rustic dances; military band repertoire, including dances, tunes from operettas, and original works for the ensemble; and music for choral societies and community bands), along with the institutions and performance circumstances that supported them, illuminating sources from which Mahler appropriated materials vitally important to his idiosyncratic compositional voice.
Like his other concert music, Gershwin’s four works for piano and orchestra – Rhapsody in Blue (1924), Concerto in F (1925), Second Rhapsody (1932), and “I Got Rhythm” Variations (1934) – showcase a composer who roamed freely across traditional musical boundaries and pioneered stylistic hybrids of lasting enjoyment and value. Taken as a group, they also contribute unique perspectives on the multifaceted artistry of his concert works. Only the concerti were conceived as vehicles for Gershwin the pianist, resulting in extant recordings featuring the composer as a central musical protagonist. These recordings, unlike those of him performing popular song, convey a less familiar image of Gershwin as a score-oriented composer-pianist in the European tradition, at once revealing a pianist assiduously attuned to the notated part while also yielding insights into the composer not accessible through his scores alone. And although Gershwin often related his music generally to the spirit of the modern American metropolis, the concerti comprise his most vivid and varied portraits of New York City in particular.
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