2 Apr 2016

Curtain Raiser: Mahler - Symphony No 3

From the collecton Curtain Raiser
Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler Photo: Public Domain, E. Bieber-Kohut

Mahler creates a whole world in a symphony with grand concepts reflecting nature and humanity.

He said, "My work forms a musical poem covering all stages of evolution, ascending stepwise. It begins with inanimate nature and rises steadily to the love of God."

Initially, it came about through Mahler’s love of nature. He was a part time composer, kept busy for much of the year with conducting duties. His summer vacation was the only time that he could devote himself fully to intensive work on writing music. He desperately felt the need to be close to nature to do this, so he’d had a small cabin (essentially just a large garden shed) built at the lake’s shore at Steinbach am Attersee, east of Salzburg. It was there, in the summer of 1895, that he sequestered himself to write his new Third Symphony.

Mahler devised a programmatic plan before he set to composing, though this changed quite a few times over the coming days. His inspiration ran hot, and by the end of his summer vacation, Mahler had completed all but the first movement.

It was his next summer holiday in 1896 that saw the completion of the symphony. It took another six years or so before it was first performed in its entirety.


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