Symphony No. 7 (Mahler)

The 7th Symphony is a Symphony of Gustav Mahler. The epithet song early on used the night did not come from Mahler.


The genesis of the 7th Symphony is one of the most dangerous creations Mahler. Even before the completion of the 6th symphony originated in the summer of 1904 the two night music of the 7th Symphony. In the summer of the following year the continuation and completion of the work should be done. Mahler traveled specifically for this purpose from Vienna to his family at the Wörthersee. Due to the extra pressure of having to complete the work, a creative blockade in Mahler set in, which tortured his own words " to gloom " with the work. Even a trip to the Dolomites could usher no creative phase. Only a return to the Wörthersee broke the blockade, according to his own statement by a stroke of the oars on a ride across the lake. "At the first stroke of the oars, I remembered the theme of the introduction to the first movement. " In just four weeks, then was the completion of the rest of the symphony. The final instrumentation subsequently took place in several steps. The final adjustments were made until a few days before the premiere.

About the Music


Piccolo, 4 flutes ( 4 also piccolo ), 3 oboes, English horn, 4 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, tenor horn, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, 2 harps, guitar, mandolin and strings.

The performance lasts about 80 minutes.

1st Set: Slow. Allegro ma non troppo risoluto

The first sentence in E minor is quite in accordance with the rules of a classical symphony, sonata form, which is interpreted freely. The actual law is preceded by a gloomy and oppressive acts Adagio introduction. The strings and deep brass employ a funeral march -like rhythm, and then the tenor horn develops a faltering dirge. Dotted rhythms and a dark border ductus allow creating an ominous and cryptic mood. This sluggish figure is accelerating becoming a aufpeitschenden pulse which brings a soghaftes happening with it. Fanfare and short motivic fragments lead to the Allegro main part. The main theme evolved from the march motif of the introduction and recalls in this duct to the previous, tragic Symphony No. 6. A second idea with significantly shifted chromaticism in C major, is of a more peaceful character. In the middle of performing the music comes unexpectedly nearly complete stop. About high tremolos in the violins, a three-note motif heard in the trumpets. The following is a chorale -like chord progression in " very solemn and holding the " manner of performance. This derives in heavily modified form, also from from the introduction. A harp glissando opened an ethereal, strangely enraptured B major section. According to Mahler a " view of a bessre [ sic] world." The vision fades away abruptly with the onset of the recapitulation and therefore returning march theme. The gloomy style is here even further increased compared with exposure. With difficulty is the Allegro again, acting strangely distorted with some dissonant accompaniment figures. After a large-scale change the main theme finally appears in radiant E major, which leads to cheering the end of the sentence.

2nd set: Nachtmusik, Allegro moderato

It follows the first of the two night music that Mahler has added to the symphony. This title comes, unlike the unofficial nickname song of the night, by Mahler himself the image of a " night -changing musician " is intended. This first night music begins with a dialogue between the first and third horn and would reiterate the Scène aux Champs from the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz. The signal-like motif of the first horn becomes the central motif of the whole sentence. It follows an imitation of numerous bird calls, which are woven into a more opaque nascent harmony. Finally, a marching song, which fluctuates peculiarly between major and minor arises. Again Mahler comes up with a military -style march theme, a feature Mahler'scher music, which is due to his childhood in the garrison town of Jihlava. The following trio is set in the elegant Pyotr Tchaikovsky's characteristic style, before the dialog of the horns used again. For this purpose, now resounds as early as the 6th Symphony, the ringing of cowbells " far away ". Mahler this is not primarily about the programmatic representation of a rural idyll, but a " verhallendes earth noise in the face of eternity, of living as a last greeting beings. " The sound of cowbells is solely " unworldly loneliness " symbolize. Also, the march appeared in more restrained way, slowly increasing again. The second trio makes an image of dance, Austrian idyll arise here resound the cattle bells as accompaniment. Again the horn signal leads to the repetition of the content frame. Quick again, then the march theme, which is now combined with the bird imitations. The night music fades mysterious and shadowy in pianissimo.

3rd movement: Scherzo. shadowy

The record label shadowy allows a corresponding port on the previous night music. The Scherzo creates an eerie and sometimes grotesque picture of the night, as is typical for Mahler. A timpani motif and the pizzicato strings give rise to a mysterious mood. The fast runs in the violins reminiscent of its counterpart in Mahler's 2nd Symphony. This gehetzen Triolengruppen convey a restless sound, on which painfully developed a distorted waltz. Absolute and interjections of the woodwinds further enhance the sinister and shadowy characteristic style of the Scherzo. Even the trio leaves in this set no mood changes occur. The translucent popular topic is highly distorted. The scherzo with menacing drumbeats Quick resumes. Before the use of the second trio Mahler requires a pizzicato five times in Forte and prescribes: " So strong touch on the strings to strike against the wood ." Bela Bartok will often prescribe this technique later. Even this trio can cause any relaxation of the " horror" and disappears quickly. One last shortened recurrence of the scherzo ends the mysterious sentence.

4th movement: Night Music, Andante amoroso

The fourth movement is also titled as Night Music. The character of the movement is in comparison to the other four movements rather intimate chamber music and what Mahler achieved by the reduction of the orchestra. Through the use of guitar, harp, mandolin, solo horn and solo violin Mahler achieved a serenade exemplary sound. The set opens with a theme of the solo violin. At the intimate vocals of the strings are in addition guitar and mandolin. They cause the drawing of a musical romantic genre scene. By an reminiscent of Joseph Eichendorff image of German Romanticism, as Alma Mahler arises noticed Especially in this set. The song flows into long distances without major change of character on. A trio enriches the scene around a dance theme. The cor anglais leads the action back to the frame member. Again there is a dialogue between guitar and mandolin, resulting in a surprising move, and increasing pulse dynamics and brings a climax with it, but this fades quickly. The movement ends in peaceful sounds of the woodwinds.

5th movement: Rondo - Finale, Allegro Ordinario

In a way, the symphony follows the likes of Mahler applied principle Per aspera ad astra. Through the night the previous sentences enters the symphony to the bright light of the solemn finale. The exultant finale begins with a solemn timpani motif, followed by a festive and jubilant chorus theme of the whole orchestra developed, which is vaguely reminiscent of the overture to Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The first couplet is a short dance pulse, which is being replaced quickly by the chorus topic. Overall, this chorus returns no less than eight times. The couplets design between dance, quaint and reminiscent of the musical history paintings, as heard in a couplet, for example, a minuet. The return of the refrain is every time held in extremely solemn and constantly cheering and enhancing form. The partially noisy slope of the sentence for the monumental seems to want to unite all forms of apotheosis of music history in itself, which inevitably leads to a " celebrate herself to death " of the final. Consequently, the symphony ends with a roaring cheers all things to Himself in a mighty Schlussstretta the entire orchestra, in which the main theme of the first movement is resumed.


The premiere of the Symphony No. 7 was held in Prague on September 19, 1908. She found thus not take place until three years after the completion of the symphony. The work was part of the tenth Philharmonic concert for sixty years jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Until shortly before the performance, Mahler worked, which was plagued by doubts about his work on the instrumentation. In this he was supported by Alban Berg and Otto Klemperer, who had also traveled to the performance to Prague. The first performance was, however, a great success for Mahler. Unlike some previous works, for example, the Symphony No. 5, the critic expressed almost unanimously positive. Arnold Schoenberg praised the work explicitly in a personal letter to his artistic role model Mahler. The little later following Viennese performance could not fully confirm this success. The much more critical audience in Vienna took mainly at the final sentence offense. The festive excessive jubilation song was a " terrible mockery of the Prelude to Die Meistersinger ," noted a critical newspaper article. In fact, parts of the finals can be interpreted as a parody of the overture of Wagner Mastersingers of Nuremberg.

Today, the plant is indeed often performed in Mahler cycles, but provides the least individually listed Mahler's Symphony represents an explanation for this can be found only with difficulty. Maybe she stands in the shadow of the adjacent expressive symphonies 6 and 8


The 7th Symphony is the last of the three middle, purely instrumental symphonies 5-7 dar. Like the 5th Symphony it consists of five, instead of the traditional four movements. The heralded with this 5th Symphony creative phase continues in the 7th Symphony. Again turns Mahler to his progressive chromaticism and encounters at some points to the limits of tonality, which has the 9th Symphony. However, this happens less intense and less frequent than in the two previous works. The march-like characteristic style of the main theorem is a role model in some other main clauses Mahlerian symphonies, in which he also relies on this his preferred form. So can also be found in the 3rd, 5th and 6th Symphony large-scale march sets. Noteworthy is the new and striking use of folk elements. The use of cowbells is reminiscent of the previous 6th symphony in which these were used as a representation of an idyllic island in the midst of tragedy. Here, you sound a picture " world also loneliness " which symbolizes according to Mahler in the " face of eternity the last greeting of earthly beings." Unique in Mahler's creative and extremely unusual for large symphonies, is the use of guitar and mandolin. In the equally unique night music sets they create that image Eichendorff shear romantic visions. The place of art was the secretive night especially in the romance. Wagner describes the Start " that other world " on the border of night and day. The present in this symphony of the night changing idea musician comes from Schopenhauer ago. Again, these idyllic islands images in a turbulent symphonic events dar. These are quite programmatic elements which allow a special interpretation of the music, what Mahler wanted otherwise prevent a rule. This can already be seen from the fact that the horn reminds dialogue at the beginning of the first night music at the Scène aux Champs from the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz, which is a decidedly programmatic work. So the 7th Symphony presents concerning some of design element a first in Mahler's music dar. This applies also to represent the euphoric finale, since such a jubilant spectacle is not found in any other final movement of Mahler. The festive excessive gloss belies a really unusual set of simple design, which is not one of the strongest creations of Mahler. Again and again, Mahler was accused here of Richard Wagner's Overture to the opera satirising The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.