A different type of march appears after twenty minutes of struggle and turmoil at the symphony’s triumphant finish. This one manages to be both confidently swaggering and hymn-like at the same time. It grows louder and mightier with each repetition, as evidenced by Mahler’s note in the score: “From here to the end, it is recommended to reinforce the horns until the overwhelming hymn-like chorale has reached the necessary volume. All horn players should stand up, to create the greatest possible impact. If necessary, a trumpet and a horn can be added.”
Battle and Triumph
Mahler's Origins: A "Sonic Goulash"
Mahler made a daring harmonic leap back to the home key of D Major in the First Symphony’s Finale. He described the creative process that led to the breathtaking moment: Again and again, the music had fallen from brief glimpses of light into the darkest depths of despair. Now, an enduring, triumphal victory had to be won. As I discovered after considerable vain groping, this could be achieved by modulating from one key to the key a whole tone above (from C major to D major, the principal key of the movement). Now, this could have been managed very easily by using the intervening semitone and rising from C to C sharp, then to D. But everyone would have known that D would be the next step. My D chord, however, had to sound as though it had fallen from heaven, as though it had come from another world. Then I found my transition — the most unconventional and daring of modulations, which I hesitated to accept for a long time and to which I finally surrendered much against my will. And if there is anything great in the whole symphony, it is this very passage, which — I can safely say it — has yet to meet its match.