In the final phase it may be that the idea of a music that evokes transcendental meaning is reduced to a truly Proustian search for things past, for the pavilion of friends and the blossoming beauty of slender young girls. But if so, the composition adapts itself to this with figures of disintegration and by renouncing the ambition of integration. It finds its true solace in the strength to look absolute desolation in the face and to love the world even though there is no hope. Such figures are to be discovered in the leave-taking movements of Das Lied von der Erde and the Ninth Symphony, which dissolve into particles that make no pretense of unity.
Mahler's nonviolent violence, which is formulated in such figures, is the power of a true humanity. Greatness in composition does not consist for him, as it did for Luther, in commanding the notes to go where they belonged. Instead, he follows them where they lead, from a sense of identification with those who are cruelly knocked about and forced into line by aesthetic norms and indeed by civilization itself. In short, he identifies with the victims.
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