The Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler was composed in 1901 and 1902, mostly during the summer months at Mahler's cottage at Maiernigg. Among its most distinctive features are the funereal trumpet solo that opens the work and the frequently performed Adagietto.
The musical canvas and emotional scope of the work, which lasts over an hour, are huge. After its premiere, Mahler is reported to have said, “Nobody understood it. I wish I could conduct the first performance fifty years after my death.” Conductor Herbert von Karajan said that when one hears 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.”
The symphony is sometimes described as being in the key of C♯ minor since the first movement is in this key (the finale, however, is in D). Mahler objected to the label: "From the order of the movements (where the usual first movement now comes second) it is difficult to speak of a key for the 'whole Symphony', and to avoid misunderstandings the key should best be omitted."
The piece is scored for a large orchestra made up of:
The part is written for a clarinet in D in...