Photo ©2005 by Malta Girl

“I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.”

-Gustav Mahler

My piano teacher recently assigned me the task of writing a research paper on Bach’s Six Partitas in the Italian style, with an emphasis on each of the dances within the suites. It seemed like a daunting, broad topic at first and I felt burdened by the weight of yet another task I had to accomplish. But a part of me was very interested in who’s style he imitated, how each dance should be performed, etc. I came across this quote as I was researching the topic and I liked it a lot. I felt like the the burden of writing the essay was too much on me, but I also realized that as I learned more about the style, I became a better pianist. To me, I was hitting my head against the wall trying to study Bach’s complex works. At the same time, I was understanding him better, and growing and progressing in my own knowledge of piano. I was breaking down barriers that I had set up. Even though this situation might not be what Mahler implied when he said this, I likened it to myself. I would like to know what prompted Mahler to say this, or what the context behind him saying it was.


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