The fifth is the first of the three purely orchestral symphonies, 5, 6 and 7.
Mahler had always aspired to writing ‘abstract’ music and was more than slightly embarrassed by his reliance in his earlier symphonic creations on the written word – mostly the poetry of the Wunderhorn collection. But old habits die hard and, although there are no human voices in the fifth, Mahler couldn’t resist quoting from not one but three of his songs during the course of the symphony. While this might well have distressed the composer, it gives us, his listeners, valuable insights into the extra-musical sources of one of his finest inspirations.
Below (some things never change!) is some general stuff – useful for intervals, key signatures, etc.
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