Which two symphonies by Mahler and Bruckner respectively should I choose to write a comparative essay?
One Symphony by Mahler
One Symphony by Bruckner
This sort of comparison between Bruckner and Mahler is an age old one. However, they are very different composers and I suppose they are lumped together because they wrote huge symphonies.
That having been said, I think you have one of two possibilities here:
1) Show just how different Mahler’s symphonies were to Bruckner’s by choosing one of Mahler’s more unconventional symphonies (eg 2, 3, 5, 7 or 8) and showing how much Mahler pushed the boundaries of symphonic form and content compared to the far more traditional Bruckner.
2) Actually choose one of Mahler’s most conventional symphonies (eg 1 or 6) and do a detailed comparitive between these and, say, one of Bruckner’s better-known symphonies (eg 4 or 7).
OR I suppose you could look at Mahler’s 10th Symphony and compare the processes of editing and ‘completion’ undertaken by many people over the last 50 years and compare that with the far fewer realisations of the finale of Bruckner’s 9th.