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Anniversaries: Mahler Premiered His Third Symphony 110 Years Ago

Mahler's Symphony No. 3 in D minor is his longest, a six-movement ode to Nature and the World. It includes a children's choir and a contralto soloist but is largely instrumental, using a quite large orchestra complete with posthorn, harps, English horn, bass clarinet, contrabassoon, bass trombones, and a lot more brass than usual. Mahler's nature is not exclusively a calm pastoral scene -- it's stormy, uneasy, sometimes threatening, with mysterious rustling and twittering, yet with rays of sunlight cutting through the shadows at times.

This work had a long and confusing path from conception to completion. Mahler wrote movements II through VI in the summer of 1895. The following year, he worked on a first movement, weaving in elements of the movements he’d written in '95. That movement kept growing and growing -- at least a half an hour long, by itself it as long as all of Beethoven's First Symphony.
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