Mahler - Symphony No. 6 (Bernstein)

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Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 6 in A minor, Tragic

Wiener Philharmoniker
Leonard Bernstein


The Symphony No. 6 in A minor by Gustav Mahler is a symphony in four movements, composed between 1903 and 1904 (revised 1906; scoring repeatedly revised). Mahler conducted the work's first performance at the Saalbau (de) concert hall in Essen on May 27, 1906. Sometimes referred to by the nickname Tragische ("Tragic"), Mahler composed the symphony at what was apparently an exceptionally happy time in his life, as he had married Alma Schindler in 1902, and during the course of the work's composition his second daughter was born. This contrasts with the tragic, even nihilistic, ending of No. 6. Both Alban Berg and Anton Webern praised the work when they first heard it. Berg expressed his opinion of the stature of this symphony in a 1908 letter to Webern: "Es gibt doch nur eine VI. trotz der Pastorale." (There is only one Sixth, despite the Pastoral.)[

The work is in four movements, of duration around 80 minutes. The order of the inner movements is a matter of debate. The first published edition of the score (CF Kahnt, 1906) featured the movements in the following order:

Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig.
Scherzo: Wuchtig
Andante moderato
Finale: Sostenuto – Allegro moderato – Allegro energico

However, Mahler subsequently placed the Andante as the second movement, and this new order of the inner movements was reflected in the second and third published editions of the score, as well as the Essen premiere, as follows:

Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig.
Andante moderato
Scherzo: Wuchtig
Finale: Sostenuto – Allegro moderato – Allegro energico


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