Alma's betrayal and Mahler's unfinished Symphony No. 10
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The first place prize for the 2012 Undergraduate Research Paper Contest was awarded for this paper by Nicholas Schuster which examines the final symphony composed by Gustav Mahler. Two months prior to the debut of the Eighth, Mahler undertook the composition of his final work, his tenth symphony. Unfortunately, he did not live to finish the score, dying from streptococcal endocarditis in May 1911. In addition to a defective valve, Mahler's heart had been metaphorically overwrought before contracting the fatal bacterium. The summer of 1910 had proven especially turbulent for the composer. Learning of his wife Alma's infidelity with the young architect Walter Gropius hurled Mahler into a state of perpetual tumult, prompting the symphonist to imbue his burgeoning composition with intense grief. As his most autobiographical work, Mahler's Symphony No. 10 reflects the composer's despair and attempts to reconcile with Alma while assimilating Expressionist tendencies into his late Romantic style.