Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The wisdom of Gustav Mahler

"Tradition is tending the flame, it's not worshipping the ashes."

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

I think it's not well known that this late-Romantic Austrian composer worked primarily in his life as a conductor, and only later did his music become as popular as it is today. Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten acknowledged influence from Mahler's musical legacy.

Mahler's forward-looking comment about tradition appeals to me…..I tend to think of myself more as a traditionalist than as an early adopter, but I take Mahler's point: the great benefits of tradition are not the reward for looking backward, they are the energy and revelation we can adapt as we work at living a good life…


  1. Very relevant to the Christian CHurch

  2. I was just checking this excellent quotation. I just wanted to share that I think it means 'passing on the flame, or handing over the flame'. The normal translation seems to be incorrect.Tradition ist nicht die Anbetung der Asche, sondern die Weitergabe des Feuers

    1. Thanks, Matthew, for this update, much appreciated.