Mahler - Symphony No. 5, Adagietto

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Wiener Philharmoniker directed by Herbert von Karajan

=M= says: this doesn't look like Karajan to me. This is Leonard Bernstein. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

The Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler was written in 1901 and 1902 mostly during the summer months at Mahler's cottage at Maiernigg. It is arguably the best known Mahler symphony. Among its most distinctive landmarks are the funereal trumpet solo that opens the work and the frequently performed F major Adagietto.

The musical canvas and emotional scope of the work are huge. Herbert von Karajan said once that when you hear Mahler's Fifth, “you forget that time has passed. A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience. The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath.” After its premiere, Mahler is reported to have said, “Nobody understood it. I wish I could conduct the first performance fifty years after my death.”

The symphony is sometimes described as being in the key of C sharp minor, but Mahler himself objected to this assignment: "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."


The fourth movement is arguably Mahler's most famous single piece of music, and is the most frequently performed extract from Mahler's works. It is best known for its use in the 1971 Luchino Visconti film Death in Venice. However it was frequently performed on its own before then, chiefly because in the early 20th century music programmers did not believe whole Mahler symphonies would be acceptable to audiences. Indeed, the British premiere of the entire Fifth Symphony came thirty-six years after the Adagietto itself had been introduced, by Henry Wood at a Proms concert in 1909.


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Artist: Mahler
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