Wanderer: Countryside

The Wanderer

Throughout his life, Mahler returned to the natural environment for inspiration.
"My music is always the voice of nature sounding in tone…"
  • Mahler's third symphony represented his most ambitious undertaking yet: a vision of nature, life, and love. The first three movements offer a series of nature portraits, beginning with "Pan Awakes. Summer Comes Marching In (Bacchic procession)" "What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me" and "What the Animals in the Forest Tell Me".

The last three movements expand Mahler's vision from nature to human and spiritual dimensions:

  What Humanity Tells Me
  What the Angels Tell Me
  What Love Tells Me

Mahler's Methods

VIDEO:SFS principal trombone Tim Higgins on the trombone solo in Mahler's Third Symphony
The Trombone Speaks

The Third Symphony’s 35-minute-long first movement covers a vast emotional territory. On the darker side, it features an intense oration for tenor trombone, as expressive as any opera aria.

  • The passage evokes the world of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, an opera that Mahler championed and conducted regularly. Listen to the way Mozart uses funerary trombones to announce the ghost of the Commendatore, foreshadowing Don Giovanni’s imminent death and damnation.

  • Now listen to Mahler's trombone passage, which is in the same key (D minor) and in the same slow, trudging tempo as Mozart's.

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This trombone passage is about as vivid a portrait of impending (death?) as it gets.