<< -- 2 -- Patric Standford A MONUMENTAL WORK
Thereafter it is a story of decline. He applied for a state fellowship
and took the Symphony to Brahms who, with Hanslick and Goldmark were the
awards committee. Brahms doubted that Rott had really written the work,
and dismissed it ('Together with such beauty there is also much trivial
nonsense in the composition that the former could not stem from Rott').
In search of a performance he played the work to Hans Richter, who was not
excited by its curious contrasts. And then his mental health began to give
way -- he became convinced that, among other things, Brahms had put dynamite
on the trains in which he travelled -- and after two suicide attempts, was
admitted to the dreadful Austrian State Asylum and survived, perhaps mercifully,
just three more years, dying a few weeks before his 26th birthday.
The irony is that the Symphony in E is a monumental work, one which must
have troubled Brahms, in truth, by its sheer genius rather than any triviality.
And the younger Mahler, who had known Rott, and played through the score
many times to Rott's friends and admirers whilst he was incarcerated as
insane, must have inspired his own unique symphonic view by the novel foundation
clearly paved by Rott. Listen to the opening of Rott's third movement, a
waltz-ländler [listen -- track 3, 0:01-1:36]
and note that Mahler, as he played it through, had at that time only written
a few songs and made some sketches for an opera.
Copyright © 20 October 2002
Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK