Mahler begins the first movement virtually in the same manner as he opened Der Spielmann from Das Klagende Lied with the forceful shutter of a tremolo strings that quickly softens and continues as harmonics support an atmospheric background for the principal theme of the exposition.
In this book, Neri and device create a mysterious and suspenseful atmosphere that sets the stage for what is to come out of the tense hush that follows cellos and basses lash out wildly with a flurry of ascending sixteenths abruptly cut off before generating any thematic material. When repeated a third higher, the phrase is again cut off at the same point, and ascending scale again in low strings breaks the momentary silence between these abortive phrases, but ends with a falling dotted rhythm extended by triplet figures. This constitutes the first subject, which contains motivic elements soon to play a significant part in the movement. It also establishes both the funeral tread and mournful though majestic character of the movement.
Beethoven used a similar technique in the opening of his first symphony’s finale by building to the main theme, gradually adding notes to an opening musical fragment. Of course, the comparison ends there since both movements have distinctly different expressive natures. Mahler makes frequent use of his favorite interval, the fourth in clipped dotted rhythms and other rhythmic elements of the baseline that provide rhythmic support for the funeral march also significant is the primacy of descending over an ascending figuration which interjects at negative element keynoting tragic fate from a heavy martial tread, a simple diatonic theme emerges with solemnity in oboes and English horn.
This principle theme includes both the triplet and dotted rhythms from the introductory base figuration. In fact, a variation of the ascending scales of the opening appears in low strings accompanying the beginning of the theme, whose Marshal bearing has created more from these rhythmic figures than from the melodic line itself.
One might consider the shape of the third and longest scale of ascending sixteenths as an embryonic version of the finales resurrection theme. Thus, in the very solemn opening measures, Mahler already gives us a few hints of the ultimate outcome.
With the funeral tread now firmly in place, Mahler bears the hero of the first Symphony to his grave. There are at least two predecessors for such heroic funeral music, the funeral march movement from Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, and sigfried funeral music from Wagner’s opera to get a demo room. As the principal theme develops, its martial rhythms become more prominent, until they take over at the climax of the themes the first statement on a long descending scale in clipdown, and rhythms, leading to a distorted segment of the principal theme in chromatic descent, which then leads to a closing cadence of dreadful presentment.
As the cadence hits the tonic note, trumpets and horns pronounced the heroes Doom with monumental power on a falling forth in elongated dotted rhythm against a variation of molars rhythmic motive of tragic fate pounded out by the timpani bridge passage to the second theme follows woodwinds with bells held high, were allowed a painful cry of a falling phrase that recalls the opening shutter in strings to make the connection with the opening even more suggestive, Mahler accompanies the woodwinds lament with a triplet figure from the funeral march in bass strings, flutes and clarinets conclude this bridge passage with a three-note update that leads directly into the lyrical second theme, which begins tenderly in the violins. It provides a marked contrast with the dreadful funeral march subject while retaining subtle features of it in quiet triplet rumblings in the base.
The principal theme of the second subject is an E major Mahler’s heavenly key. This soothing, lyrical theme radiates with angelic warmth and tender lyricism. It’s an ascending stepwise motion.
A subtle reference to the opening 16th note runs also anticipates the resurrection theme of the finale. It as well contains turn figures that contrast with the triplet turns in the baseline from the preceding bridge passage, and continue during the first part of the second subject corns provide a counter theme that will reappear as a variation of the main theme from the third symphony’s final movement.
Another hint of the resurrection theme is heard briefly but powerfully as the second theme reaches its height following a powerful cadence that ends on an E flat minor chord. The progress of the second theme suddenly terminates with a blast from horns and trombones.
On the multi-octave g natural that opened the symphony here sounding more ominous than before. It quickly softens to make way for the return of the first subject. Instead of expanding upon the second theme, Mahler brings back the opening first subject, with its dreadful rumblings on ascending scales in the base, thereby commencing the second part of the exposition. This unexpected reversion to the first subject and its tragic key of C minor jolts us out of the heavenly Dreamworld of the second theme, winds play the main theme of nearly twice the original pays and assault brass chorale in a flat major recalls the heroic trumpet theme from the finale of the First Symphony. Once again, the clip dotted rhythms and triplet figuration take home, this time, embellished with trumpet calls and affirm March tread sourced in the first symphony’s finale at the climax of an expansion of the first theme, contrasting E flat major and G minor chords in the brass are set to clip dotted rhythms in contrary motion, interrupted at each measure by a calming descending scale that closes the reprise of the funeral march subject with even more power and majesty and when first heard Marnix extends the exposition with a code data that will return as the closing section of the movement, horns followed by woodwinds, softly and solemnly sound a fragment from the brass corral that foreshadowed the DSi theme to be heard during the finales developing section achromatic variant of the march beat from the first Symphony in bass strings, establishes a few nariyal treads upon which the winds very softly state their corral fragment.
Now we have reached what is to be the first leg of a two-part development section, a formal design that also occurs in the first movement of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, and barely Oh, Samphan a fantastic. Mahler opens this part of the development with the second theme now in C major, against a counter theme that hints at the final resurrection theme.
How purified and serene the atmosphere becomes as if we were given a glimpse of heaven in the midst of mourning, typical malaria in juxtaposition thematic elements from the funeral march still haunt the second theme ominous fanfares and horns and trumpets call from a distance.
When the key changes to E major a new modal motive appears in the English warm sounding like a shepherd’s pipe. In fact, Mahler referred to it in his sketches as a mirror Stiller calm see an expression that we call works by both Beethoven and Mendelssohn. an inverted variant of the dssi phrase heard during the codesa that preceded the opening of the development follows in an oboe echoed by the strings, now sounding more at peace than before.
A sensuous clarinet does it in thirds expands upon the second theme, accompanied by an ascending scale on the harp, surrounded by an open fifth chord sustained quietly in the strings horns enter midway through the clarinet duet, on a phrase from the second theme, against which the violins add a falling figure, also from that theme, the pastoral tune first heard on the English horn returns momentarily on the high register of the cellos.
At this point occurs one of Mahler’s most brilliant transition passages out of the serene atmosphere of the second subject, the clipped dotted rhythms of the first subject return subtly in bass strings though barely audible, they haunt the atmosphere with tragic presents.
A new theme appears in the English horn and bass clarinet, with triplets that served as rhythmic underpinning during the exposition, the 16th note runs that open the symphony play a part in the development of the first subject as the funeral march moves gradually into its original tempo, becoming more and more assertive and aggressive building to a powerful statement of the brass chorale theme.
Over the first symphony’s March tread and the bass and descending clipped dotted rhythms in woodwinds. Frequent cries of Whoa, in woodwinds, bemoan the fate of the hero. As the brand’s chorale continues to build, a cymbal crash holds its forward progress, only to hurtle it forward frantically on descending chromatic triplets, and clipped dotted rhythms, stretched to a super octave, woodwinds with bells up, cry out on a thematic fragment from the expositions codec.
As before, the music’s fewer or suddenly dissipates. A distant trumpet tattoo, repeated as an echo recalls the hero, but only as a fading memory. Unstable harmonies add to the tension. The second theme returns and is now developed further, unexpectedly shifting to be major at the high point of the violence statement of the theme a variant of the brass chorale from the first subject appears in trumpets and horns, over hushed string trills his heroic brass chorale not only bears characteristics of the finales resurrection theme, but it looks forward to the distant trunk lead movement from das lead from the era after fragments of clipped dotted rhythms fade into soft timpani strokes.
Part Two of the development begins with a sudden and violent onslaught of the rapid ascending 16th from the opening. Now in E flat minor. Each group of 16th note runs is followed by a terrifying orchestral outburst until the last and longest run ends as in the introduction, with a clip-dotted rhythmic figure falling by an opt. This figure is repeated twice for emphasis on the timpani, first strongly and then quietly over descending chromatic string Tremeloes that gradually fade away. A sense of other Doom emerges from this reprise of the symphonies opening measures A moment of silence holds us in suspense before the second development begins, cellos and basses slowly drag themselves out of the depths. On the clip dotted rhythms of the funeral march, the English horn cries out its woeful plaint elements of the tragic principal theme of the funeral march then appear in counterpoint against the dotted rhythms of the march tread and the bass. Six horns resolutely state the DSE rhyme motive in its definitive form for the first time.
A funeral march theme, boldly pronounced in the horns, generates a complex network of interwoven thematic fragments from the first subject, over string figuration in waves of clipped dotted rhythms, we even hear part of the heroic theme from the finale of The first Symphony and the brass.
Here it is treated as thematic development of the march theme within the tightly interwoven musical fabric. The resurrection theme tries to assert itself more forcefully, a powerful buildup is suddenly interrupted then the music bursts out again in wild fury, rising and twisting as if struggling to be freed from the demons the tormented, frantic descending chromatic runs and string figuration propel the music into an inversion of the resurrection theme tripled volleys in brass and timpani sound like torrents of raging violence.
The first subject’s dynamic chorale theme resounds like a bold warrior set upon conquest, as the drama builds to an awesome climax. Ras pronounced the heroic chorale theme once again, only to be thrashed by whipsaw strokes in the full orchestra and pummeled by a welter of dissonant brass triplets and clipped dotted rhythms along chromatic descent and triplets. Over a huge crescendo on woodwind trills breaks off with a resounding snap as at the end of the first one, and thrusts us with incredible force into the recapitulation.
For the recapitulation, Mahler presents a capsulized version of the exposition, about half its length, again in two-part form, with each subject presented in the same order, and with the same harmonic structure as before, but with significant thematic variations, the tonic C minor is firmly re-established, an E major serves for the lyrical second theme.
In the clothing section of the recapitulation, the violas bring back the pastoral melody from the development as an accompaniment to the horn call that preceded it earlier, first on a horn and then in tremolo violins, the falling minor second of Whoa, closes the section. bass strings open the second part of the recapitulation in C minor, with a descending chromatic March tread from the First Symphony that appeared during the closing section of the exposition and ascending version of the brass chorale theme enters very softly in the horns, though with great weight as if defying death. Final durge marks time for the brass chorale from the first subject against which triplets and clipped dotted rhythms are tentatively whispered in strings, a solo flute sounds a distant call of a nightingale that will usher in the symphonies choral conclusion in the last movement. As cross-rhythms and the strings become increasingly complex, Marshall rhythms carry the hero to his final resting place.
After reaching a climax, these March rhythms diminish into a shadowy triplet jutting out at the end of each of four succeeding measures. Once again, a glimpse of music from the finale emerges as the funeral march begins to receive a grotesque falling tritone an augmented fourth in oboes, lens, and eerie quality to the closing scene triplet rhythms so prominent throughout the funeral procession seem to lose their power when the timpani plays them timidly in fragments. A heavenly cadence on a phrase heard earlier that will return in the finale now ushers in weakened triplets in the timpani. Each pair of them answered by the first horn on the wall motive, descending minor second.
Here it sounds mournful, yet resolving each time on a peaceful C major chord. But if Mahler were to end this funeral march movement in such a common redeeming state, it could only connote that the tragedy of the hero’s death has already been overcome such is not the case, so he transposes the harmony back to C minor chillingly pronouncing the falling minor second of Whoa.
The minor chord that results is held for what seems like an eternity. Then as if from the deepest recesses of the soul comes in embittered reaction to the heroes tragic death, a powerful string of descending chromatic triplets tramples upon the uneasy stillness, ending with a sharp and decisive stroke, repeated with gradually diminishing force on the first beat of each of the last two measures, almost like an afterthought. The silence between each of these two poignant punctuation marks is shattering.
He says if the bitter anger over the hero’s demise, expressed throughout with raging fury has spent itself, leaving us exhausted, but far from relieved.
By Lew Smoley