Gustav Mahler's Sixth Symphony is one of triumph, tragedy and controversy. Listen for the soaring violins of "Alma theme" -- a portrait of the composer's wife -- as well as the sound of distant cowbells in alpine pastures and the three harsh sledgehammer blows. He superstitiously wanted to eliminate one of the three blows, but they turned out to be tragically prophetic, as he experienced a series of fateful blows in his own life shortly thereafter. Rumor also has it that Mahler couldn't make up his mind about the order of the movements -- whether the scherzo or the slow movement should come second. The piece was initially published in one order, but first performed, with Mahler himself conducting, in another. To this day conductors and classical music fans alike debate about the meaning, structure and function of the Sixth. Hear it performed by the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall, with acclaimed Russian conductor Semyon Bychkov wielding the baton. The New York Times said of his most recent collaboration with the Philharmonic, "the performance sizzled."
Running time is one hour and 30 minutes, with no intermission.