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Franz Schubertbio:
Symphony No. 8 in B minor (“Unfinished”), D. 759


Gustav Mahlerbio:
Symphony No. 1 in D major “Titan”



Other information

The event is about 2.5 hours long.

About the event

Although it is referred to as the Unfinished, Symphony No. 8 is actually whole, with its two completed grandiose movements. Schubert set to work composing the piece in 1822, at the height of his prowess, but was forced to leave it unfinished when the first signs of his illness, which would later lead to his death, appeared. The piece only premiered some nearly forty years following the death of the composer. The opening theme of the first movement, performed on the low strings, immediately transports the listener to an ominous atmosphere. Later, the somewhat more positive main theme is also interrupted painfully several times; there is only a glimmer of hope at the very end of the movement. The atmosphere of the second movement is even more uncertain. Sensitive ppp melodies alternate with dramatic outbursts, but the movement – and, thus, the entire piece – ultimately ends on an elevated note.

Mahler started to work on his first symphony at the end of 1887. At first, he planned it to be a five-movement symphonic poem with a program. “A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything”, he wrote to Sibelius. This attitude is reflected in the motifs reaching across the movements and related to one another, the self-references, the stylistic diversions and the varied instrumentation. The symphony starts with a rather long and slow introduction. Then we gradually arrive from the motif fragments at the main motif of the composition. Instead of the “Blumine” deleted by Mahler and now performed as an independent concert piece, the second movement was replaced with an energetic scherzo, which is followed by a unique slow movement including a children’s song performed by double bass, klezmer music and a soldier’s march. The piece concludes with a passionate finale, tragic at first, but eventually triumphant.

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