The 'Faust' Problem: Music and Madness in Mahler's Vienna

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The 'Faust' Problem: Music and Madness in Mahler's Vienna

  • Tue 9 Mar 2010
  • 7:00PM

By Gavin Plumley

Introduced and chaired by Anthony Cantle

100 years ago this summer, Gustav Mahler saw Freud for a one-off consultation in the Dutch town of Leiden. Mahler had just discovered that his wife, Alma, was having an affair and was encouraged by her to seek Freud's counsel; Freud promptly offered the composer a cure which can be at best described as reductive. Mahler's neuroses were more profound, as can be heard in the fractured harmonies, ironic cackles, half-heard waltzes and stymied longing of his symphonies. Following their meeting, Freud's discussions with his disciples Marie Bonaparte and Theodor Reik reveal some trepidation at curing 'a man like Mahler'. This talk examines the idea that analysis could risk silencing the underlying tensions that fed Mahler's brand of musical creativity.

Gustav Mahler

Freud Museum London

20 Maresfield Gardens
London NW3 5SX


T 020 7435 2002