Best stuff by Mahler?

May 24, 2006 at 03:47 AM · Lately I have developed a new appreciation for Mahler, and would like to know; What do some of you consider to be his best work? Especially any wonderful violin pieces ( concertos, sonatas, etc.) Thanks!

Replies (29)

May 24, 2006 at 03:48 AM · Greetings,

to me his first and fifth symphonies are the most enjoyable t play. The latter is tehcnivally considerably more demanding than the former. Teh Adagio (theme from Death in Venice) is just gorgeous. Concertos? You fell for the April Fool currently on the web I think. I may be compeltley wrong but a student quartet of little or no intrinsic value was floating around buyt I may have imagined it in a prune induced stupor.



May 24, 2006 at 03:53 AM · Gary:

Sorry to disappoint, but Mahler composed NO music for the violin as a solo or duo instrument (i.e., no concertos or sonatas). In fact, Mahler only composed ONE chamber music piece and that is only the first movement of a Piano Quartet (piano, violin, viola, cello), which, frankly is quite early in his development and sounds much like Brahms.

The best you'll find is simply soaring violin melodies in his symphonies as well as charming solos for the concertmaster. My personal favorite on both of those levels is his Symphony No. 3. Great concertmaster solos . . . and then there is the unforgettable melody of the final movement (What Love Tells Me--the angels flying over the Earth).



May 24, 2006 at 06:42 AM · actually, pieter, mahler composed fragments of a violin concerto in f# minor. deryck cook recently completed it and deutsche grammophon has released a recording of it by maxim vengerov and the chicago symphony under pierre boulez.

at 90 minutes it ranks with the busoni piano concerto for length and i doubt it will become a concert staple for that reason.

it's available as an import overseas. google 'mahler violin concerto' for more information if you're interested in knowing more.

May 24, 2006 at 06:43 AM · Although it's not what it was written for, but there is an arrangement for violin & piano of the Adagietto, published by Breitkopf.

May 24, 2006 at 07:43 AM · My favorite Mahler piece is the Ninth Symphony. There are plenty of great violin parts in that symphony.

If you want to check out how good the first violin section is- Mahler Ninth and Prokofiev First are good tests.

May 24, 2006 at 09:26 AM · I like mahler 6th and 8th. there are several violin solo in the 6th and one in the 8th. you can try them out. beautiful.

May 24, 2006 at 10:42 AM · No such VC by Vengerov & Boulez.


It is an April Fool joke!

May 24, 2006 at 06:12 PM · I played Mahler 1 with my Youth Orchestra last holiday, and absolutely love it. I also enjoy No5.

Someone told me he was a violinist - is this true? If so, seems strange that he wrote no violin music. Are there any transcriptions of any of his stuff for other instruments, for violin?

May 24, 2006 at 10:46 PM · There is a piano quartet or piano quartet movement, I believe.

May 24, 2006 at 11:37 PM · Greetings,

this list is having a competition to see who can -not read- the most number of previous posts.



May 25, 2006 at 12:04 AM · When I first discovered the music of Mahler, I too wanted to find if he had written anything for violin. Sadly, this is not the case. But in order to set things straight for everyone else I decided to have a quick look at Grove.

Mahler seemed to have a habit of not finishing things.

There is indeed a Piano Quartet, in a minor. However, only the first movement is complete. There is a fragment (totalling 24 bars) of a scherzo.

And that's all there is. THere is a lot of orchestral works, and a number of Lied, but nothing for solo instrumental. What a shame.

Mahler started out on the piano, and quite early was given lessons on Harmony. He excelled at the piano under Julius Epstein at the Vienna Conservatory in 1875-6 but in the three years that he stayed there, he turned his attention more to composition than performance. The Scherzo that I mentioned above was his graduation submission however most of it is now lost.

May 25, 2006 at 12:59 AM · That web page on the Mahler violin concerto is really brilliant. I think I will print out copies and post in around school when the next April 1st comes around.

May 25, 2006 at 03:20 AM · Geez. I wish it wasn't a joke. I want a Mahler Violin Concerto!!

May 25, 2006 at 04:46 AM · Hey Buri,

I think you and I are in agreement.

If only everyone on this board would have clicked on "PREVIOUS RESPONSES" they would have seen our first two . . . answering these questions for the first time!



May 25, 2006 at 06:30 AM · i dont know about you guys, but im kinda in love with that movement of the mahler quartet. the rest of it that schnittke finished isnt amazing...but that first movement has a hold on me...there is a recording on a cd along with schnittke pieces (a la mozart, i believe). great recording


May 25, 2006 at 12:59 PM · I get to play the Adagietto from Symphony 5 at festival this summer. Can't wait - its soooooo gorgeous. We're also doing Barber's Adagio for Strings, but I almost like the Mahler better now that I've come to know it more. (Thank goodness I found some translations for musical instructions in German - Mahler is very descriptive!)

January 30, 2007 at 05:30 AM · I always used to joke about things like the Mahler violin concerto and Richard Wagner's piano concerto, etc. I totally fell for that Vengerov DG recording...I was still not sure what to believe until I read it had been found "last year" (meaning 1998 or so) and reconstructed by Deryck Cooke, who would have had to do it from beyond the grave, as I believe he died in 1976. But is there perhaps such a piece? Who knows...check your attic. You may find a Bruckner opera or an Accordion concerto by Ibert.

January 30, 2007 at 05:50 AM · Ah, I've been on such a Mahler kick lately. My recording of Symphony No 5 hasn't left my car's CD player for like three weeks.

January 30, 2007 at 08:47 PM · I especially enjoy his somewhat exhausting sonata number three in E-flat minor, subtitiled, "Bombastic Reflections on the Death of Children," especially when played in a hushed and sinister manner suggesting bathos, pathos and sort of transcendent nobility.

January 30, 2007 at 11:05 PM · So this Mahler Violin Concerto is real or what? I saw it on, and that hardly looks like some spoof website...

January 30, 2007 at 11:18 PM · This is an extract from the Carl Flesch memoirs.Flesch recalls in the the late 1890s the time he applied for the position of leader at the Vienna court orchestra...He goes on to say, Mahler,brought me one day to the opera house,where Arnold Rose,who for his part would have been very glad to see me next to him at the first desk, recevied me in the director's office. He gave me a friendly explanation of the demands the Mahler, who did not know much about violin technique, used to make during auditions. He attached the greatest significance to the steadiest possible bowing in sustained notes and considered the beginning of the third act of SIEGFRIED as a touchstone for the bowing technique of an orchestral violinist. Good old Rose did not hesitate to cheat a little; he showed me the passage in question beforehand. Mahler came in a little later;he first asked me to play a Mozart adagio, and then-all unprepared as I was-set the SIEGFRIED passage in front of me. But as my bow glided over the strings with the calm of a world weary philosopher,he seemed very pleased, and wanted to nail me down to the post of leader at once,and accompanied me himself to the administration building,where I was informed of the financial conditions attached to the post.Flesch extended his contract in Bucharest for a further three years,and did not take up the post in Vienna.A bit off the original thread,Its interesting to know the way Mahler worked in these matters.

January 31, 2007 at 03:57 AM · Greetings,

Larry, its a complete spoof.



January 31, 2007 at 06:06 AM · I love 1 and 5 but how about 4 with the great violin solos, and the gorgeous last movement (check out Maazel recording with Vienna and Battle), and also 3 is ridiculously beautiful (check out Boulez Vienna, 2003 DG recording). And I love the 2nd Symphony (check out Mehta with Vienna -- classic recording). The Scherzo movement with the timpani solos is soooo cool (inspired Berio to quote it heavily in one of his most famous compositions). And the first movement is a tourdeforce.


December 16, 2009 at 07:36 AM ·

 i have heard from some historians that mahler wrote a violin sonata.  its mentioned in the wikipedia article too...

December 16, 2009 at 03:04 PM ·

Be careful with Wikipedia.  Some April Fools' jokes get absorbed there and take a while to be scrubbed. 

At one point, the Wikipedia post on Herbert von Karajan  had a paragraph about his nearly-unknown "Anchluss Sonata," which he allegedly composed in 1938 and performed (and recorded) at the piano.  Not a shred of truth, of course, but it had been featured in a record magazine's April 1 issue.

March 30, 2010 at 11:44 AM ·

Hi everyone, 


I always like to make "Mahler's Concerto" as a joke. I tried google it today and subsequently be directed to the Thank to Derek Lim, a critic who I used to read his article about SSO and MPO ( both of them are great orchestra in Asia ), made a brilliant webpage and a wonderful CD cover, and it's perhaps the greatest April fool day's joke that I've ever heard. 

Later  I realized I was spoofed, as my friend ( thank to my great friend Yee) told me he tried to sing the fragment of the score, ended up with knowing that he got a " Marry had a little lamb" melody, how funny !


Anyone find this interesting should visit the original page, just google it !




Yishu from Taipei 

March 30, 2010 at 11:59 AM ·

Hi. Never came across this thread before. Hope the arrangement of the Adagietto - maybe my favorite Mahler piece - is no joke. I, myself, have made an arrangement of one of his Songs of a Wayfarer.

March 30, 2010 at 01:42 PM ·

 The adagietto is a great piece but I have only every heard one recording of it that I liked --by Mengelburg. He takes it nearly twice as fast as most and it actually has a shape instead of the oozing blob that most conductors make if it.

March 30, 2010 at 01:52 PM ·


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