Performances by Gustav Mahler



  • The score appeared first in print in 1904 at Peters, Leipzig. A second "New edition", incorporating revisions that Mahler made in 1904, appeared in 1905. Final revisions made by Mahler in 1911 did not appear until 1964 (ed. Ratz), when the score was re-published in the Complete Edition of Mahler's works. In 2001, Edition Peters published a further revised edition (ed. Kubik) as part of the New Complete Critical Edition Series. This edition is the most accurate edition available so far. Previous editions have now gone out of print.
  • Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951) wrote notes on "Spitzentechnik" on the front cover of the score of Symphony No. 5, a technique for the strings, writes Mengelberg, which must be used in all symphonys of Gustav Mahler, and of which it is important that all strings do this. His notes to Movement 4: Adagietto. Sehr langsam are the key to a good understanding of the music.


The piece is scored for a large orchestra.


  • Bassoon (3rd doubling contrabassoon) (3)
  • Clarinet in B-flat and A (3rd doubling clarinet in D and bass clarinet). (3) The part is written for a clarinet in D in the score, but as this instrument is now virtually obsolete, almost all clarinetists play this part on an E flat clarinet. In the Critical
  • Edition of the score published in 2001, the editors have the second player taking the E flat clarinet part with the third doubling on bass clarinet only.
  • Flute (3rd & 4th doubling piccolos; for the last two bars of the Scherzo, all four flutes play piccolo) (4)
  • Oboe (3rd doubling English horn) (3)


  • Horn in F (6) Mahler uses a solo obligato horn in the Scherzo. This is not counted as a seventh horn because only four other horns play in that movement. Solo horn at movement 3
  • Trombone (3)
  • Trumpet in B-flat and F (4)
  • Tuba


  • Bass drum
  • Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Tam-tam
  • Timpani
  • Triangle
  • Snare drum
  • Whip (used only at movement 3)


  • Double bass
  • Harp
  • Viola
  • Violin I
  • Violin II
  • Violoncello


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  • Herbert von Karajan once said that when you hear Mahler's Fifth, "you forget that time has passed. A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience. The fantastic finale almost forces you to hold your breath."

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