Monday, October 03, 2011

Mahler Week: Sendak and Mahler's Symphony No. 3

We're launching a week-long series of posts about Mahler's close relationship with shedworking with a look at more shedworking album cover art, this time Maurice Sendak's work for RCA on Mahler's Symphony No. 3 (released in 1976) which depicts the movement called “What Night Tells Me”.

In an excellent examination of the artwork on the Mahler Archives site, Teng-Leong Chew explains that it was done in pen-and-ink and tempera, at 14¼” X 14¼” an exact fit for the album sleeve. "In the days of LPs, the physical size of the recording medium meant that the LP cover sleeves themselves were often treated as an artist’s canvas," he writes, "on which beautiful works of art that “represented” the music (most likely in abstract form), or were inspired by it, could be rendered. The child-like nature of Mahler’s Third Symphony, especially the inner movements, which are laden with fantastic images such as angels, night animals, flowers, and cuckoos, set a perfect stage for Sendak."

As Chew points out, Mahler’s silhouette in his composing hut is unmistakable. "Despite its cartoon characteristics, numerous details of the composing hut featured in the drawing match those of the composing hut in Toblach," he says, "suggesting that Sendak did not draw the little cottage out of the blue. It is amazing to note the bugle horn played by one of the night creatures on the right side of the drawing, a most easily identifiable instrument used in the third movement of the symphony."
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

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