Symphony No. 5
Mahler’s compositions include a number of songs and ten symphonies, the last incomplete, as well as Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), a symphony in fact, if not in name. He completed his Fifth Symphony in 1902 during the summer following his marriage to Alma Schindler, a young woman of considerable and varied talents, daughter of the landscape painter Anton Schindler and later wife of Walter Gropius and subsequently of Franz Werfel. The symphony is in three parts, the first, which includes the first two movements, allows the material of the opening Funeral March to undergo further development and expansion in a turbulent second movement. The March itself recalls the song of the deserter, Der Tamboursg’sell (The Drummer-Boy), from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magic Horn), von Arnim and Brentano’s seminal collection of German folk-song, and the Kindertotenlieder (Songs of the Death of Children), posthumously published poems by Rückert, while the contrasts of the second movement bring moments suggesting a Bruckner chorale or a fragment of Wagner. The second part is the Scherzo, a substantial centre to the whole symphony, while the third consists of an Adagietto recalling two of Mahler’s settings of Rückert and a final Rondo that touches again on the world of Des Knaben Wunderhorn.