Here is one of the other things (from the title), I may, every now and then, discuss.
I am currently reading "The rest is noise" by Alex Ross, he also has a Blog here: http://www.therestisnoise.com/
The book is a journey through the music of the 20th century. I am just starting it, but my first impression is that it's a pleasant read, well-written, that takes the reader through the mind, life and works of some great composers. The first chapter covers R. Strauss and Mahler, and their intriguing relationship, that no doubt plays a prominent role in their attitude to their art, and that Ross subtly uses to inform their respective compositions.
A little digression here.
It seems the musical 20th century started with a beautiful woman (Salome) kissing the lips of a beheaded John the Baptist (Jochanaan) in a frighfully orchestrated bliss (in the final scene of Salome, by R. Strauss, inspired by the play of Oscar Wilde). The tune was set for the 20th century to unfold: The old religious lores were to be taken out of their somniferous yoke of dogmatism, and lay bare the darkest secrets of the soul.