Symphony No. 8 (Mahler)

The Symphony No. 8 in E flat major is a symphony with soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass soloists, two large mixed choirs and boys' choir of Gustav Mahler. The frequent epithet used Symphony of a Thousand is not from Mahler.


The 8th Symphony was mostly in the summer of 1906. During the first half of 1907 it was fully orchestrated and written to terms. Mahler knew the work in publishing in 1910 with a dedication to his wife Alma Mahler. Mahler, who later as his " most important work " described the 8th Symphony, already felt in the creative process of the work, the peculiarity of this symphony. The transcript of the enormous work done in the summer of 1906, the highest operating speed. Mahler emphasizes in this regard that he had never worked " under such compulsion ." For development process, the composer remarked: " It was like a flash of vision - so the whole thing immediately stood in front of my eyes and I have only used to write down, as if it had been dictated to me. " The idea to take a medieval hymn as a template for the new symphony, Mahler came in his vacation home in Maiernigg am Wörthersee, where he was a Catholic Missal fell into the hands. A rechecked in Vienna of Mahler, vouched version of the hymn contained significant deviations, which led to partial Umkonstruierungen the plant. The original plan, the hymn to have a total of four different sets follow, the last one Lobhymne should be on the Eros increasingly followed the idea to add sound to the final scene of Faust by Goethe - a substance which Mahler worked all his life. This seemingly incongruous union of two different substances brought Mahler frequently a criticism. However, the work is a complex amalgamation of both elements based system ( see below). The preparation for the premiere only started about three years after the completion of the work, in the summer of 1910.

About the Music


3 soprano, 2 alto, tenor, baritone and bass soloists, two large mixed choirs, children's choir, 2 piccolos, 4 flutes, 4 oboes, English horn, 5 clarinets, bass clarinet, 4 bassoons, contrabassoon, 8 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, organ, harmonium, celesta, piano, 6 harp, mandolin and strings. For this purpose, a remote isolated placed Orchestra of 4 trumpets and 3 trombones.

Part 1

The first and shorter part of the symphony set to music the medieval Latin Pentecostal hymn " Veni creator spiritus ", which is attributed to Rabanus Maurus in the original. Almost throughout the musical development is supported by the choirs and soloists, which is why the first part recalls the shape of a grand motets. The overall design of the part can recognize a sonata form freely treated.

The exposition begins with the issuing Veni creator spiritus Choir, in which the two main topics and main motives are presented. After a preparatory organ sound, the chorus, the first main theme begins solemnly intone. In the highest expression of the second theme follows on directly before a brief transition, the first section, but not completing the exposure. This is followed by the imple superna gratia held in rondo form, page set. The orchestral accompaniment is completely taken back here and there is an elaborate antiphonal singing of the soloists. After some time the choirs join in piano. The secondary theme unfolds extensively before the main topics will be further processed. A great increase leads to the end of the exposure part.

The development begins with the Infirma nostri and is divided into four individual records. First, the main subject and the page design are processed extensively and varied. Only hesitantly The orchestral opening is followed by the use of vocal elements. In the second part, a detailed subject and a detailed design will be presented, which are processed immediately with the main themes. This processing leads to a powerful double fugue on the text Accende volume sensibus, infunde amorem cordibus ( " Light the light within us, pour love into the hearts "). The motif Accende has significant parallels in the second part of the symphony. Mahler described it as " a bridge to the fist ". In the fist part "Saved the noble member " returns this image back and thus also creates a substantive connection of light and redemption of love. Therefore, this double fugue provides a substantive center of the work; they do is designed to the highest virtuosity and vibrant vitality and leads to a repeating part, which completes the implementation.

The recapitulation begins immediately after the double fugue with the almost identical resumption of Veni creator spiritus of the first 20 cycles of exposure a. After the modified return of the main motives over a conductive fugal with numerous variations of the main motive leads to the final section of the first part.

The final Gloria sit Patri ( Glory be to the Father ), the coda of the first part of the symphony dar. Therein it means the triumphant conclusion of the Pentecost hymn '. All previous themes and motifs are processed in parallel here. In the following, the boys' choir takes over the role of the cantus firmus, while the two choirs contribute a kind of antiphonal singing. The final bars lead to an enormous increase in circuit and result in a eight-bar final chord unprecedented splendor.

Part 2

The second part set to music the 1000 year younger closing scene of Goethe's Faust. They, in turn, represents a hybrid form of music drama, cantata and oratorio

The beginning of the second part is the longest purely instrumental passage of the whole symphony. A Poco Adagio opens this longer part of the symphony. In it is already essential thematic material of the later sections. The Adagio begins with some threatening and unsafe pizzicato in the lower strings, followed by a first issue arises in the woodwinds in a mysterious and mystical mood. After it unfolds, followed by a poignant and chorale- like song of the strings and winds of utmost interiority. As a result, these two thematic elements connect more closely with each other. The culmination of this development is a dramatic outbreak of the topic in the brass to excited tremolos in the strings. As a result, calms the events and the Adagio closes pianissimo.

The following short scherzo section Piu mosso is the second pure instrumental section of the symphony. The main motive breaks abruptly moved out from the rest of the Adagio fading away. As a result, resound the two main themes, which were presented at the Adagio. They also appear dramatically increased both in Scherzoform lighter than. The section goes on attacca in the third section of the second part of the symphony.

The choir Grove schwanket approach is, according to the purely instrumental opening, the first section with vocal accompaniment in the fist part of the symphony dar. Here you will find the local description of forest and rock of the last scenes take place in Faust. This begins with the note faithful repetition of the opening of the Adagio. Then Mahler sets a recitative beginning of the voicing of the Goethe text. It may look mysterious and mystical, which is achieved through the backing with the first theme and the minimalized using the chorus of which involved only a few members. After some time the strings intone the poignant choral theme, embodying the mentioned in the text " sacred place " musically.

It follows the short and poignant tenor aria Eternal bliss fire of Father Ecstaticus. The cantabile and a little self-indulgent subject wearing romantic traits. The moving accompaniment of the strings increases again dramatically. At the closing words " Eternal Love core " occurs also add the glockenspiel.

Again attacca the aria As rock chasm closes my feet on the Pater profundus. This aria is written in completely released and through-composed form and sets the corresponding text sections profound programmatically in scene. According to the text, the aria begins with a dramatic gesture of the orchestra. In the accompanying dips when the keyword " Almighty Love" for the lead theme from the first part of the symphony. This topic and the Accende motif developed from it plays in the course of the second part as a love theme an increasingly important role and represents the most important connection of both parts of the symphony

From the love theme, the content of central choral section develops Rescued is the noble member. Mahler developing the Accende motif previously resumed from the first part of the symphony. The relevant section in the Pentecostal hymn is " Accende volume sensibus, infunde amorem cordibus " ( " Light the light within us, pour love into the hearts "). Mahler creates a substantive connection of light and redemption of love. Among other things, this way he manages the amalgamation of the content of different textual basis. The theme emerges here in Scherzandoform and established itself as a love theme for the fist part of the symphony. Mahler interpreted Faust's salvation through the angels therefore as an act of love. In the solemn singing of the choirs of the uplifting story is musically with the greatest solemnity.

The choir Those roses from the hands attacca follows on from the previous section. In floating dynamics under taken back and carefree orchestral accompaniment to the singing of the younger angel sounds. At the end of the text section breaks under great rejoicing the theme of love out again.

A ritardando leads to the choir We are left with a residual soil of the perfect angel. An orchestral introduction with shifted chromaticism creates a mystical image. To the song of the angels, represented by a restrained acting choir, heard the virtuoso playing of the solo violin. In the text section " No angel parted united double nature " takes the alto soloist singing temporarily.

It again follows the choir of the younger angel with the text section I can feel just nebelnd to Felsenhöh. The song begins in solemn mood dissolved. The solo tenor as Doctor Marianus occurs shortly thereafter added to the angel choir. The music experiences thereby increasing voltage, as well as a slight increase in tempo.

Attacca follows the solo aria Supreme ruler of the world by the previously introduced Tenor Doctor Marianus. The addressed highest ruler of the world is the Mater gloriosa which is the Eros of creation in the " eternally feminine". Consequently, it combines the love theme in coming. Here, the stage structure of the work is clear, its highest level is Love. That is why this aria acts anthemic transfigured to a glamorous accompaniment in the strings. A lyrical section to the text "Suddenly, softens the glow " brings the love theme in its original form of Accendemotivs again. As a result, an elaborate antiphonal singing between the solo tenor, choir and solo violin of the utmost grandeur developed.

To the delicate sounds accompanied by the harp strings, the choir singing to the text section of the untouchables you developed. The characteristic style of the sublime singing of the preceding aria is taken largely here. In Goethe's tragedy, the Mater gloriosa floats accompanied these words. An outbreak of the orchestra tutti inflated this file. It seamlessly follows the chorus of penitent women, which emphasizes the grace and thus the love of the Mater gloriosa with tender lyrics. The developed melody of the Penitents also runs through the following sections.

Then the content directly to the chorus of penitents, the soprano aria of the Magna Peccatrix follows ( Great Sinner ), which is taken from Luke 7.36. The first cantabile character of the aria In love the feet, soon turns to through-composed music drama characteristic style of the previous sections. Once again immersed in the love theme in processed form. In the following step, the Mulier Samaritana on ( Samaritan Woman ) and Maria Aegyptiaca which combine her singing as a common complaint and request of sinners eventually.

The aria tilt Same Without You is one which continues to run under the delicate orchestral accompaniment of the previous penitents sections soprano aria of Gretchen, the central female character from the first part of Faust. The very short aria brings no further musical change with it.

It joins the choir of the blessed boy to text section He grows us already on. For almost Mediterranean -sounding orchestra sound the first lines of text to the Carefree altered melody of penitent women. It is directly connected to an aria- like portion Gretchen. In the orchestral accompaniment of artful solo singing the love theme prevails. After great enhancement to the text line " Still dazzles him the new day " uses a musical point of rest, signifying the beginning of the next appearance of the Mater gloriosa.

The portion Come lift you to higher spheres represents the transfigured appearance of Mater gloriosa Represents the dominant theme of love seems like a light on the transfigured acting scene. A progressive chromatic accompaniment able to increase this impression. Mahler is the personified appearance of the " eternal feminine " through an amalgamation of the love theme, with a rapt and glorified musical expression, both as untouchable and incomprehensible, as well as the personification of love and Eros dar.

The penultimate section of the symphony is the choral aria Look up. The Tenor Doctor Marianus intones the sublime singing first with a solemn triad motif that is taken over by the chorus later. The ascending melody provides an image of the passage represents the acquisition of the subject by the brass causes a chorale-like elevation. The musical character is consistently characterized by restrained solemnity with utmost grandeur. The purely instrumental end of the section eventually fades away pianissimo.

In the pianissimo of the previous choir of the big final chorus begins Everything transient is only a parable. The chorus intones mysticus the final words of Goethe in Faust: "Everything is transitory is but a parable; 's insufficiency, it gets here event, The indescribable, it gets done here, The Eternal Feminine draws us on high. " The chorus begins very subdued and solemn and mystical. The complete text is first run through this duct. Thematically attacks Mahler here are some motives of the whole symphony, the main idea is again from the Accende motif (and therefore the love theme ) developed. The section presents a grand musical increasing dar. Dynamically enhances the musical events under Mahler always further addition of contributors to the tutti. At a solemn organ chords, the choir begins to carry forward the text again. Triumphal in the company enters the love theme for the last time directly in appearance. With the participation of all the contributors of the symphony orchestra strives to meet her rousing end. A final apotheosis of varied Love theme, makes the jubilant end of Opus Summum Mahler dar.


The first performance of 1907 completed the work took place in Munich until 12 September 1910. This was due to numerous organizational problems. The concert was held in Munich in the New Music Festival Hall. Mahler conducted the orchestra of the Concert Association of Munich, today's Munich Philharmonic, the Leipzig itself large choir Riedel Club and the Vienna Singing club controlled the vocal elements of the performance at. The premiere of the Symphony No. 8 was the biggest success of Mahler during his lifetime. A never-ending jubilation of the numerous listeners and performers Mahler called out again and again. Already the preliminary rehearsals in the summer of 1910 were always accompanied by expectant press reports. The large number of participating musicians led on the evening of the premiere for the nickname " Symphony of a Thousand ". Mahler protested against this by him unpopular nickname and marketing as how he wrote " me fatal Munich Barnum and Bailey performance". Among the 3000 audience included many well-known writers, composers and conductors of the time, like Siegfried Wagner, Alfredo Casella, Hermann Bahr, Leopold Stokowski, Arnold Berliner and Thomas Mann. The latter wrote after the performance a hymnal thank you letter to Mahler. The eminent conductor Otto Klemperer assisted Mahler with the final preparations of the performance along with Bruno Walter. Klemperer confessed in this context, a "to have as far as understood for the first time Mahler's music that I said to myself. Here is a great composer in front of you " Mahler instruct Klemperer already during rehearsals with the completion of the interpretation of the work: " If after my death, something does not sound right, change it, you have not only the right but the duty to do that.. " Also the criticism of the newspapers after the premiere was almost entirely positive. So also other Mahler opponents and critics recognized the power of Mahler and the size of the new plant and also praised its management as a conductor of his own work. Such was the general musical newspaper to read: " The applause was unprecedented, and the conductor will also treat him the one who does not like to follow the composer. " Robert Holtzmann designated Mahler in the same newspaper as the " German Master who has to tell us unspeakable ".

The 8th Symphony, which Mahler to his life as opus summum, and " most important work " called, continued to experience a tremendous appreciation today. It is considered as unquestioned masterpiece Mahler, which is fairly common to hear despite the enormous performance costs. On the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the first performance in 1910 came on 12 September 2010 in presence of the then German President Christian Wulff and President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert and the Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft, conducted by Lorin Maazel in a gala performance of the monumental work in Duisburg. Members of all orchestra and numerous choirs of the Ruhr region with a thickness of about 1,300 singers and 200 instrumentalists were involved here.


The 8th Symphony of Gustav Mahler regarded as an exceptional work of the genre. It can be difficult to compare with the other symphonies of Mahler whether their investment and conception. As in the so-called Wunderhorn symphonies (2nd, 3rd and 4th Symphony ) Mahler used here the human voice as an extension of the means of musical expression. Overall, Mahler writes in the 8th Symphony before an occupation, the size of the work, Mahler's Symphony No. 8 is unique and makes one of the greatest works occupied in music history. The pure orchestra still reminds of the rich also instrumented 6th Symphony. However, Mahler adds to this directory an organ and piano and celesta. The expansion of the apparatus performance by as much as eight soloists and three choirs, however, is without comparison in Mahler's work. Due to this fact and the more than 1000 performers at the premiere of the nickname " Symphony of a Thousand " developed. This name does not come from Mahler, however, as the "biggest thing I've ever done," titled the 8th Symphony. In contrast to earlier symphonies with vocal participation, this symphony is almost completely durchgesungen why the concept of " vocal symphony" for this is appropriate. Formally, this symphony is treading new paths. Neither it contains the classic four sets, nor is it added to some other sets, as is usual in Mahler. The work is divided only into two major parts, each of which contains some shorter and sentence -like portions. The structure is reminiscent more of a two-act opera, occur in which arias and instrumental parts. However, the most notable conceptual difficulty is the substantive contrast between the two parts, which must be made ​​to a unit. Firstly, there is the medieval Latin hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, on the other hand, the final scene from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, in German language. The common element is five guiding principles, which view the hymn as a religious intercession represented emblematic in Faust. This is firstly the idea of ​​love as the world pin forming and world- redeeming principle and secondly, the idea of ​​a higher grace. These two meet in the earthly sphere to the weakness and inadequacy of the people who has a restless desire and the desire for enlightenment result. Combines therefore Fifth, love and grace lead to a spiritual cleansing and continuance of existence after death. The fist shape is here interpreted by Mahler as the epitome of creative and creative people, who " always striving endeavor ". Herein, it is equivalent to the creative spirit of the hymn, which becomes the central connection event both parts. In the second part of the composition, therefore, is the theme of love, as the highest expression of human existence, in the foreground. The corresponding musical motif is richly varied and used. Similar to the Symphony No. 3, this represents an emerging stage system to its highest level love is to be settled.

Compositionally is because the work without comparable point in Mahler's music. The earlier symphonies with vocal participation were by no means pure vocal symphonies as the 8th Symphony. The heralded in the 5th Symphony creative period, which was characterized by progressive chromaticism and the Maximization of tonality, here are indeed an extension, however, the Symphony No. 8 is not due to their design directly in this creative line. Thus, the musical language is indeed in the tradition of previous symphonies, but it is due to their nearly continuous vocal system also new forms of expression, or accesses partly due to a more classic sound. The 8th symphony has this not so much to the whole new world of sound to the following 9th Symphony, than did the previous works.