The song of the earth

Jessica YEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the creativity and originality that can be generated by both interlingual and intersemiotic translations. The text of Gustav Mahler's song symphony Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) is taken from Hans Bethge's adaptations of Chinese Tang poetry. In 2002 a modern Chinese dance was set to Mahler's masterpiece by Chiang Ching, a Chinese choreographer now living in the US. For this performance, Mahler's text was translated into Chinese by Cheng Chou-yu, an influential contemporary Chinese poet, and was recited as interludes between the movements. The present article explores this loop of intertextuality surrounding Das Lied von der Erde, created by interlingual and intersemiotic translations, and illustrates how the idea of 'translation 'is deeply embedded in Mahler's composition and Chiang Ching's staging of the dance. For Mahler the idea of his text being a translation justifies his musical innovation; for Chiang Ching the overall aesthetic of her dance hinges on the idea that her 'source text', namely Mahler's lyrics, is already a translation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslation and Music
PublisherSt. Jerome Publishing
Number of pages22
Edition2 SPEC. ISS.
ISBN (Print)9781905763108
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Publication series

Number2 SPEC. ISS.
ISSN (Print)1355-6509

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese
  • Das lied von der erde
  • German
  • Interlingual translation
  • Intersemiotic translation
  • Intertextuality
  • Lieder
  • Mahler


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