- Year 1896: 11-04-1896: Completes orchestration of Movement 2 of Symphony No. 3.
- Year 1896: 09-11-1896: Music from Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 was first heard in concert when Arthur Nikisch (1855-1922) conducted Movement 2 under the title ‘Blumenstuck‘ (‘Flower Piece’) in Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO).
- Year 1897: 09-03-1897: Movements 2, 3, and 6 were conducted by Felix von Weingartner (1863-1942) also in Berlin.
- Year 1902: 09-06-1902: Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) conducted the premiere of the complete Symphony No. 3 in Krefeld.
Movement 2 had the title ‘Blumenstück’ (‘Flower Piece’) when it was performed separately – a holdover from Mahler’s original program. Mahler described this movement to his friend Natalie Bauer-Lechner:
“It is the most carefree music I have ever written, as carefree as only flowers can be. It all sways and ripples like flowers on limber stems sway in the wind. Today I realized to my surprise that the basses have nothing but pizzicato, not one firm stroke, and that the low, heavy percussion is not used at all. On the other hand, the violins, again with a solo violin, have the most lively, flowing, and charming figures. . . . That this innocent flowery cheerfulness does not last but suddenly becomes serious and weighty, you can well imagine. A heavy storm sweeps across the meadow and shakes the flowers and leaves. They groan and whimper, as if pleading for redemption to a higher realm.”
The movement is a (more or less) regular minuet with a highly irregular Trio section repeated twice in the form M-T-M-T-M. The “grazioso” tone of the minuet evokes the 18th century despite subtle touches in the orchestration (especially the harp writing) and in the phrase structure that betray the hand of a late Romantic composer. What makes the Trio so irregular is that it consists of three different sections, each in a different meter. In Peter Franklin’s words: “Although [the Trio] . . . cuts some odd capers and seems intent upon a developmental life of its own, the graceful minuet is prepared to surprise us with a coquettish smile when it returns.”