"From the Life of a Lonely One" (Mahler: Symphony #1) (1888)

by Gustav Mahler

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The composition work on this first symphony was begun by Gustav Mahler sometime in 1884. He had completed the song cycle "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" (Songs of a Wayfarer), which had been somewhat inspired by his unfulfilled love to the beautiful (blond hair, blue eyes) soprano Johanne Richter from the Municipal Theatre in Kassel, who rejected his proposal for marriage around Christmas 1884. This song cycle led to early sketches of the symphony, but work on this composition was not resumed until 21. January 1888. Around that time he fell in love with Marion von Weber, the wife of the grandson of composer Carl Maria von Weber. He was collaborating in the production of Weber's opera fragment "The Three Pintos". An attempt to elope with Marion was unsuccessful - she bailed out of the relationship. At the beginning of March 1888 the first version of this symphony was completed.

In the first performance in 1889 there were very few programmatic notes given. The performances in Hamburg (1892) and Weimar (1894) had a program: the symphony was titled "Titan - Aus dem Leben eines Einsamen" (translated: Titan - From the Life of a Lonely One), in reference to a novel by Jean Paul (1800). Those performances had the following structure [1]:
Teil I: Aus den Tagen der Jugend, Jugend-, Frucht- und Dornenstücke.
1. Frühling und kein Ende. Die Einleitung schildert das Erwachen der Natur am frühesten Morgen.
2. Bluminenkapitel (Andante).
3. Mit vollen Segeln (Scherzo).
Teil II: Commedia umana
4. Gestrandet. Ein Totenmarsch in Callot's Manier.
5. Dall'inferno al Paradiso (Allegro furioso), als der plötzliche Ausdruck eines im Tiefsten verwundeten Herzens.

By 1896 Mahler had dropped all such program notes, as he became convinced that an explicit program would not be helpful, and he believed that such a program would need to be inherently in the music itself and should not be told to the listener in explicit words, but the listener should rather experience this program when listening to the music instead of being told about it. Also the "Blumine" ("Bluminenkapitel") has been dropped by then.

This version here is in the structure of the pre-1896 order, with Blumine and with the original titles of the movements.


released July 7, 2010



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Virtual Philharmonic Orchestra (Reinhold Behringer) Leeds, UK

Since 1993 I use computers to create music with my computer. These are renditions of classical music works which I especially cherish, But I also create my own compositions with this tool. My own compositional style is probably similar to early 20th century music. ... more

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