THE MUSIC

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MUSIC FOR THIS FILM



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This movement carries all the elements that a genius film composer would invent for this story. The pale, deathly mood, shimmers of hope, outbursts of rage, playful and sweet memories, torture, pain, consolation, and a sudden drilling, massive chord, like a mountain wall, out of which comes the piercing sound of a trumpet playing a high A for ALMA.


Alma, in her marriage with Mahler, receives her vindication through the music, because she was not only his wife, she was also his assistant, music copyist, critic, and protector. The film takes her case against later biographers and their accusations that paint her as an alcoholic whose only goal it was to drag celebrities into her bed. She served only Mahler's needs for nine years, from her 22nd to her 31st year. After that she was burnt out. She began a life that made her famous and infamous.  There is no doubt that we owe her a substantial portion of Mahler's development as a composer.


For our film, Esa-Pekka Salonen recorded two of the most beautiful movements of Mahler's symphonies - the Adagietto from the 5th, that Mahler gave as a gift to Alma after he fell in love with her, and the "Ruhevoll" from the 4th symphony.


The main piece however is the Adagio from the unfinished 10th that we use for most of the film in an unconventional way. We are not sure if classical music was ever featured in this manner. This is how we proceeded:


After the movement was rehearsed and recorded, we asked Esa-Pekka Salonen to record a prepared list of sections from the movement, not with the full orchestra but just groups like winds, brass, celli, and solo instruments even when the score didn’t ask for solos.

These 49 small pieces became the core of the “film music”. The colors are so different, and the moods so diverse, that we were enabled to characterize moments and scenes with Mahler’s music in a deliberate and sensitive way.

When the full composition takes over, it is for the special occasion displaying it’s rich emotions, colors, and beauty. 

There is not one note that is written by a film composer in the entire film. It is all original Mahler, only that no audience ever hears the details of Mahler’s last work the way they hear it in our film.

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