Symphony no. 5 in C♯ minor : autograph manuscript, 1903 Oct.

Collection in Focus: Mahler's Fifth

Robinson McClellan, Assistant Curator of Music Manuscripts and Printed Music provides an introduction to Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

Record ID: 
Accession number: 
Cary 509
Mahler, Gustav, 1860-1911.
Biographical Data: 
Austrian composer and conductor.
Symphony no. 5 in C♯ minor : autograph manuscript, 1903 Oct.
Uniform title: 
Symphonies, no. 5, C♯ minor
1903 Oct.
Curatorial Comments: 

Mahler's Fifth Symphony was composed during the summers of 1901 and 1902 in his lakeside villa in the Austrian village of Maiernigg on the Worthersee and first performed in Cologne on October 18, 1904. After the first rehearsal, Mahler wrote to his wife, Alma, "The public--Oh, heavens, what are they to make of this chaos of which new worlds are forever being engendered, only to crumble in ruin the moment after? What are they to say to this primeval music, this foaming, roaring, raging sea of sound, to these dancing stars, to these breath-taking, iridescent and flashing breakers?"
This manuscript score of 297 pages is Mahler's fair copy produced during the winter of 1902-3, which he dedicated in October 1903 to "My dear Almscherl"--his affectionate term for Alma--"the faithful and brave companion on all my journeys." Mahler had married the twenty-three-year-old Alma Schindler (1879-1984) in March 1902; the Fifth Symphony's fourth movement, the tender Adagietto written for strings and harp alone, may be understood as a musical love-letter to his young bride.


"V. Symphonie für grosses Orchester von Gustav Mahler ..." At head of title: "Meinem lieben Almscherl, der trauen und tapfern Begleiterin auf allen meinen Wegen. Wien, Oktober 1903."


Full score.


Alma Mahler; Robert Owen Lehman.

Associated names: 

Mahler, Alma, 1879-1964, dedicatee.
Mahler, Alma, 1879-1964, former owner.
Lehman, Robin, former owner.