The Scherzo of Mahler's Ninth Symphony juxtaposes the Lndler and the waltz, two dances that resonate with cultural meaning. Exploring the part they play in this movement illuminates the socio-political significance of the dances' identification with contrasting-and at the turn of the century increasingly conflicted-social spheres of the Habsburg Empire: The former represented the rural population of the countryside, while the latter represented the bourgeois and aristocratic classes of Vienna. This rural-urban polarity was intimately bound with turn-of-the-century ideologies of gender, the body, and decadence. While the Stadtmensch's body came to be regarded as a potential carrier of a feminized, urban degeneracy, the ideology of Köörperkultur (body culture) proposed a cure for this degeneracy in an idealized chaste and rural male body. Mahler's juxtaposition of the Läändler and waltz, when observed through this lens, creates a narrative of dangerous feminine seduction. Additionally, consideration of Mahler's own politicized body and his relationship to Köörperkultur points to ways in which these two cultural discourses may have informed the popular "death" or "farewell" narrative commonly attributed to the Ninth Symphony.
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