Performances by Gustav Mahler

Versions and publications


          18-12-1894. Manuscript Symphony No. 2 sign off.




The symphony is written for an orchestra, a mixed choir, two soloists (soprano and contralto), organ, and an offstage ensemble of brass and percussion. The use of two tam-tams, one pitched high and one low, is particularly unusual; the end of the last movement features them struck in alternation repeatedly.


  • Bassoons (3rd and 4th bassoon doubling contrabassoon) (4)
  • Clarinets in B-flat, A, C (3rd clarinet doubling bass clarinet) (3)
  • Clarinets in E-flat (2nd E-flat clarinet doubling 4th clarinet in B-flat and A) (2)
  • Flute (all four doubling piccolos) (4)
  • Oboe (3rd and 4th oboe doubling English horns) (4)


  • Horns in F, four (7-10) also used offstage (preferably more) (10)
  • Trombones (4)
  • Trumpets in F and C, four to six used offstage (8-10)
  • Tuba


  • Bass drum
  • Bells, deep tuned (3)
  • Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Offstage percussion in Movement 5: Bass drum with cymbals attached, Triangle, Timpano
  • Rute, to be played on the shell of the bass drum
  • Snare drum
  • Tam-tam (high and low) (2)
  • Timpani (2 players and 8 timpani, with a third player in the last movement using two of the second timpanist's drums)
  • Triangle


  • Organ (used in fifth movement only)


  • Alto solo (sometimes by a mezzo-soprano) (used in fourth & fifth movements)
  • Soprano solo (used in fifth movement)
  • Mixed chorus (used in fifth movement)


"The largest possible contingent"

  • Cello
  • Double bass (some with low C extension)
  • Harp (several to each part in the last movement and possibly at one point in the Scherzo) (2)
  • Viola
  • Violin


  • Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Kožená, Sir Simon Rattle, 03-2011.


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