Mahler: Symphony No. 5

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Album Name Length Format Sample Rate Price
Mahler: Symphony No. 5 1:12:21 $17.98
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# Track Title Length Format Sample Rate Price
1 Part I: 1. Trauermarsch: In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt 13:12 88/24 Album only
2 Part I: 2. Sturmisch bewegt. Mit grosster Vehemenz 15:11 88/24 Album only
3 Part II: 3. Scherzo: Kraftig, nicht zu schnell 17:50 88/24 Album only
4 Part III: 4. Adagietto: Sehr langsam 10:32 88/24 Album only
5 Part III: 5. Rondo-Finale: Allegro giocoso. Frisch 15:36 88/24 Album only

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Discussions of musical Romanticism typically make connections between a composer’s life and music. Beethoven has long served as the influential model in this regard. His personal circumstances and professional career exemplify as well a common biographical strategy: the division of a lifetime’s music into three periods. It is hard to escape these familiar and satisfying ways of situating compositions even if we acknowledge that the relationships between an artist’s daily existence and work are not always self-evident or meaningful.
“An Entirely New Style” Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is a pivotal work both with respect to the composer’s life and career. As with Beethoven’s path-breaking “Eroica” Symphony, this piece seems to strike out in new directions and initiates a “middle” period and new musical concerns. As with Beethoven’s personal crisis around 1802, when he first began to come to terms with his hearing loss, Mahler, too, experienced both trauma and a new state of personal affairs around the time he wrote the Fifth Symphony. His previous four symphonies had either been based partly on his own earlier songs or actually incorporated songs and choruses within them. Mahler now produced a trilogy of purely instrumental symphonies (1901-05). He started work on the Fifth during the summer of 1901, after a year marked by a near-death experience in February (internal hemorrhaging) and by his resignation as principal conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic soon thereafter. (He remained as director of the Court Opera, arguably the most powerful musical position in all Europe.)
Administrative and performance duties forced Mahler to do most of his composing during the summer months and in 1901 he had a lovely, newly finished house in Maiernigg on the Wörthersee—the posh, idyllic resort in the Carinthian Mountains where Brahms and others vacationed. This brilliant and productive summer elicited the following comment from Mahler: “My creative work is that of an adult, a man of ripe experience. Although I no longer attain my former heights of enthusiasm, I now feel I am in full possession of my powers and technique, that I am master of my means of expression, and capable of carrying out anything I put my hand to.”
Nearly 10 years later, in one of his last letters, written just three months before his death at age 50, Mahler expressed a very different view of his earlier “powers” and “mastery,” even as he continued to acknowledge that the Fifth Symphony had initiated a new stage in his symphonic career: “I have finished my Fifth—it had to be almost completely reorchestrated. I simply cannot understand why I still had to make such mistakes, like the merest beginner. (It is clear that all the experience I had gained in writing the first four symphonies completely let me down in this one—for an entirely new style demanded a new technique.)” It may seem curious for Mahler to say he had just completed a symphony premiered seven years earlier, but then he continuously revised his compositions, and none more so than the Fifth.
Life Changes Mahler apparently wrote more