Annual Conference »Gustav Mahler's Legacy. Jewish Musical Topographies at the Fin de Siècle«
23 to 24 May 2011
Gustav Mahler's biography reflects the Jewish history in Central and East-Central Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. His artistic impact as a conductor, opera director and composer active at the very crossroads of European and American musical life is a powerful example for the expansion of transnational cultural exchange. Examples of contemporary and posthumous reception of Mahler's music indicate a highly political dimension of cultural and religious ascriptions toward his oeuvre as well as a close linkage between social upheaval and musical canon formation in general.
The Simon Dubnow Institute is pleased to mark the centennial of Gustav Mahler's passing by hosting an international conference which will discuss the life, work and impact of this Central European musician of Jewish origin in the context of cultural discourses and social-political processes from the turn of the century up to the present. The questions raised at the conference share a common feature of what can be called an unique Jewish experience, that of a culture of transformation, of overstepping boundaries and mediation. The prime focus will be on practices of geographical and cultural mobility, the negotiation of belonging and internal metamorphosis. Mahler's biography may be seen as exemplary for these questions: in view of his life career from the Bohemian periphery (Kališt? near Brünn) via the metropolitan cultural centers in Central Europe (Prague, Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg, Vienna) on to the »New World« (New York), his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism, and his work as a composer.
The conference will explore this perspective on Mahler bringing together perspectives and approaches from the historical and cultural sciences and musicology in an interdisciplinary ensemble. By investigating »Jewish Musical Topographies at the Fin de Siècle«, the intention is to examine the conditioning factors and processes that shaped Mahler's œuvre. This will be done through a historicizing and contextualizing analysis of the associated spaces of experience, reception and discourse as well as by a close look on the musical landscape at the turn of the century which shaped Mahler's work as a composer in the borderlands between tradition and modernity and in the interstices between cultures. The conference will look in particular at (con)figurations of exchange, inclusion and exclusion, co-existence, appropriation and movement.
The conference is organized by the Dubnow Institute in close cooperation with the Gewandhaus Leipzig and with support of the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. The first day of the event (May 23) will take place in the Dubnow Institute, while the second day (May 24) will take place at Mendelssohn Hall at the Gewandhaus. Conference languages will be English and German.