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From Wikipedia

Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahlerwas composed in 1901 and 1902, mostly during the summer months at Mahler’s holiday cottage at Maiernigg. Among its most distinctive features are the trumpet solo that opens the work with a rhythmic motif similar to the opening of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, the horn solos in the third movement and the frequently performed Adagietto.
Symphony No. 5by Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler in 1907

Composed1901 – 1902:MaierniggPublished

1904 Edition Peters

1905 Edition Peters

1964 Eulenberg

2001 Edition Peters (critical edition)

Movements5PremiereDate18 October 1904LocationGürzenich [de], CologneConductorGustav MahlerPerformersGürzenich Orchestra Cologne
The musical canvas and emotional scope of the work, which lasts over an hour, are huge. The symphony is sometimes described as being in the key of C♯ minor since the first movement is in this key (the finale, however, is in D major).[1] Mahler objected to the label: “From the order of the movements (where the usual first movement now comes second) it is difficult to speak of a key for the ‘whole Symphony’, and to avoid misunderstandings the key should best be omitted.”[2]

Composition history

Mahler’s composing cottage in Maiernigg

Mahler wrote his fifth symphony during the summers of 1901 and 1902. In February 1901 Mahler had suffered a sudden major hemorrhageand his doctor later told him that he had come within an hour of bleeding to death. The composer spent quite a while recuperating. He moved into his own lakeside villa in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia in June 1901. Mahler was delighted with his newfound status as the owner of a grand villa. According to friends, he could hardly believe how far he had come from his humble beginnings. He was director of the Vienna Court Opera and the principal conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. His own music was also starting to be successful. Later in 1901 he met Alma Schindler and by the time he returned to his summer villa in summer 1902, they were married and she was expecting their first child.
Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 and 7, which all belong to this period, have much in common and are markedly different from the first four, which all have strong links to vocal music. The middle symphonies, by contrast, are pure orchestral works and are, by Mahler’s standards, taut and lean.
Counterpoint also becomes a more important element in Mahler’s music from Symphony No. 5 onwards. The ability to write good counterpoint was highly cherished by Baroquecomposers and Johann Sebastian Bach is generally regarded as the greatest composer of contrapuntal music. Bach played an important part in Mahler’s musical life at this time. He subscribed to the edition of Bach’s collected works that was being published at the turn of the century, and later conducted and arranged works by Bach for performance. Mahler’s renewed interest in counterpoint can best be heard in the second, third and fifth movements of this symphony.


The symphony is scored for large orchestra, consisting of the following:
4 flutes (all doubling piccolos)3 oboes (3rd doubling cor anglais)3 B♭ and A clarinets (3rd doubling D clarinet and bass clarinet)3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon)
6 horns (solo horn in movement 3)4 trumpets3 trombonestuba
4 timpanibass drumsnare drum (used only in movement 1)cymbalstrianglewhip (used only in movement 3)tam-tamglockenspiel
harp1st violins2nd violinsviolascellosdouble basses

Revisions of the score

The score appeared first in print in 1904 at Peters, Leipzig. A second “New Edition”, incorporating revisions that Mahler made in 1904, appeared in 1905. Final revisions made by Mahler in 1911 (by which time he had completed his 9th Symphony) did not appear until 1964 (ed. Ratz), when the score was republished in the Complete Edition of Mahler’s works. In 2001, Edition Peters published a further revised edition (ed. Reinhold Kubik) as part of the New Complete Critical Edition. This edition is the most accurate edition available so far.[according to whom?] Previous editions have now gone out of print.


The symphony is generally regarded as the most conventional symphony that he had yet written, but from such an unconventional composer it still had many peculiarities. It almost has a four movement structure, as the first two can easily be viewed as essentially a whole. The symphony also ends with a rondo, in the classical style. Some peculiarities are the funeral march that opens the piece and the Adagietto for harp and strings that contrasts with the complex orchestration of the other movements.
A performance of the symphony lasts around 70 minutes.
The work is in five movements, though Mahler grouped the movements into bigger parts:
Part I1. Trauermarsch (Funeral march). In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt (At a measured pace. Strict. Like a funeral procession.) C♯ minor2. Stürmisch bewegt, mit größter Vehemenz (Moving stormily, with the greatest vehemence) A minorPart II3. Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell (Strong and not too fast) D majorPart III

  1. Adagietto. Sehr langsam (Very slow) F major5. Rondo-Finale. Allegro – Allegro giocoso. Frisch (Fresh) D major

Part I

  1. TrauermarschEdit

The trumpet solo at the opening of the first movement

is followed by a somber, funeral march (the primary theme).

The march is twice interrupted by a calmer secondary theme.

  1. Stürmisch bewegt, mit größter VehemenzEdit

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