Mahler - Symphony No. 1 (Bernstein)

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Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 1 in D major

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein


The Symphony No. 1 in D major by Gustav Mahler was mainly composed between late 1887 and March 1888, though it incorporates music Mahler had composed for previous works. It was composed while Mahler was second conductor at the Leipzig Opera, Germany. Although in his letters Mahler almost always referred to the work as a symphony, the first two performances described it as a symphonic poem or tone poem. The work was premièred at the Vigadó Concert Hall, Budapest in 1889, but was not well received. Mahler made some major revisions for the second performance, given at Hamburg in October 1893; further alterations were made in the years prior to the first publication, in late 1898. Some modern performances and recordings give the work the title Titan, despite the fact that Mahler only used this label for two early performances, and never after the work had reached its definitive four-movement form in 1896.

In its final form, the symphony has four movements:
1. Langsam, schleppend (Slowly, dragging) Immer sehr gemächlich (very restrained throughout) D major
2. Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (Moving strongly, but not too quickly), Recht gemächlich (restrained), a Trio—a Ländler
3. Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen (Solemnly and measured, without dragging), Sehr einfach und schlicht wie eine Volksweise (very simple, like a folk-tune), and Wieder etwas bewegter, wie im Anfang (once again somewhat more agitated, as at the start)—a funeral march based on the children's song "Frère Jacques" (or "Bruder Jacob")
4. Stürmisch bewegt – Energisch (Stormily agitated – Energetic)


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