A proposal for an international project focused on Gustav Mahler and the themes of children and childhood.

Surprisingly, one of the least investigated areas in Mahler’s scholarship is the significance of children and childhood in the composer’s work and aesthetic universe.

The themes of children and childhood function in multifaceted, contradictory, and often superimposed ways in Mahler’s work, and their investigation not only unravels an idée fixe on the part of the composer but could work as an interpretative key to his musical philosophy and language.

From the fairy-tale world of Das Klagende Lied, his recurring obsession with Das Knaben Wunderhorn cycle (both as text and as a source for musical rumination) to the uncomfortable irony of the Fourth Symphony and the dense shadows of Kindertotenlieder, let alone the use of his own “memory-music” from his childhood, Mahler used children and childhood as themes or actual musical material to construct one of the most resilient motifs in his work.

The proposed project places children and childhood at the center of Mahler’s music and consists of many different approaches and experiences to the specific theme.

Apart from this being an opportunity to re-experience Mahler’s music both in performance and academic settings, the project’s main thrust is the involvement of schools from around the world in a creative and highly interactive relationship with Mahler’s music.

In this way, the theme becomes the creator, and in this way, the Mahler tradition keeps on going radical, imaginative, and playful pathways. In truth, this project aims to bring creativity, performance, and education in a vital and never-ceasing dialogue and, in this way, create new bonds between the audience, educators, young people, artists, and Mahler’s music.

This project is being led by our President, Marina Mahler.

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