“I Have Seen Your Soul in Its Nakedness”

The following letter was sent by the great Arnold Schönberg to Gustav Mahler on the evening of the general rehearsal of Mahler’s Third Symphony, on 12 December 1904 — 117 years ago today:

Dear Herr Direktor, 

In attempting to formulate some kind of description of the wholly unprecedented impression your symphony made on me, I cannot speak as a musician to a fellow musician, but as one human being to another. 

The fact is: I have seen your soul in its nakedness, its utter nakedness. It was spread out in front of me, like a wild and mysterious landscape, full of terrifying chasms and ravines, and next to them, serene and charming, sunlit meadows, idyllic places of repose. I felt it was like an awesome phenomenon of nature, with its terrors and calamities and its transfiguring, comforting rainbows[...][...]

And I believe I felt your symphony. I felt the battle against illusions; I sensed the pain of one who has lost them; I saw the forces of good and evil engaged in combat; I saw a human being struggling in agitated torment for inner peace; I felt a human being, a drama, truth, the most ruthless truth! 

I had to get this off my chest; forgive me, but I do not go in for middle of the road emotions. Either-or!

Yours faithfully, 

Arnold Schönberg

H/T: #MahlerFoundation

This utterly naked, too naked Soul.

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