When he wrote this passage of music, Gustav Mahler, arguably today’s most popular symphonic composer, knew that these would be his final notes. He wrote “Almschi!” into the margin of the score. This was his endearing name for his wife. He wrote into the music itself his “heaven” theme that he used often in his music. Only now, in the final few seconds, the melody he had once set to the words, “Much rather would I in Heaven be.” is now incomplete. It is a breathtaking moment, beautiful and peaceful, yet it ends with great longing.
To Mahler, his music was a diary of his journey through life. And in the end he concluded with longing for Eden; he wrote gently and earnestly of the woman he loved and heaven.
our longing for eden is universal
Perhaps nothing stands out more throughout history than mankind’s longing for Eden. And I don’t mean “paradise”. The human story over the millennia reveals a longing for belonging and holy love. In Eden our sense of place, home, and inclusion was profound–Eden itself wouldn’t have existed without us. The creator of galaxies made a garden for us and chose to take material form and walk with us. We were made for that. It’s apparent that in all our attempts of art, music, literature, government and civics, and technology–all we really want is to return to Eden.
captivated by eden
Mahler’s unusually sensitive heart was captivated by Eden. Throughout his symphonic journal he was arrested by a holy place where divine and human love united. A place where strength and humility coexisted in the light of goodness and holiness. Our place in creation was unique and creative in an infinite universe.
something women can’t ever understand
This heading is to keep you reading, but it’s also true. The last 30 seconds of this music is something women can’t understand, at least not the way men do. The forest changes to Eden (0:56) at the point Mahler’s thoughts turn toward Heaven; Almschi is a part of this. This is how we feel about you; we don’t expect you to understand.
There is something important about human love; and then there’s something altogether unique and special about romantic love. In it we see just a glimpse of something, it calls our hearts back to Eden–that holy place, inward and outward–Adam and Eve with God.