On This Day | 3 March 1895: Gustav Mahler’s First Orchestral Concert in Berlin

3 March 1895: On this day in Berlin history, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 is performed for the first time in the German Capital.

Manuscript for Mahler's Symhpony No. 2, first performed in Berlin in 1895
Autographed manuscript of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2

Also known as the Resurrection Symphony, Mahler wrote Symphony No. 2 between 1888 and 1894. It was one of Mahler’s most popular and successful works during his lifetime.

Gustav Mahler was already a famous conductor when he embarked on his Second Symphony. His first professional appointment was in 1880 as conductor of a summer opera theatre in the Upper Austrian town of Bad Hall. In 1889 he unveiled his First Symphony in Budapest, which received terrible reviews.

Gustav Mahler, whose second symphony was first performed in Berlin in 1895
Gustav Mahler | Kohut, Adolph (1900)

Mahler had already started to compose the first movement of his Second Symphony, which he later named Funeral Rites, by January 1888. The first three movements were performed for the first time at the Berliner Philharmonie on Berlin’s Bernburger Straße on March 3rd 1895.

The director of this world premiere and first orchestral concert by Mahler was Richard Strauss, the then conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. The audience, filling only half of the seats, was extremely enthusiastic.

The complete symphony would be premiered on December 13 that year, with Mahler himself conducting.

In 1920, Mahler’s widow gave the original manuscript score to conductor Wilhelm Mengelberg at a Mahler festival that Mengelberg was hosting. It was bought in 1984 by entrepreneur Gilbert Kaplan and later sold at Sotheby’s for £4.5 million – the highest ever price for a musical manuscript sold at auction.

Click here to listen to Mahler: Symphony No,2, “Resurrection” on Spotify.

Chiara Baroni

This edition of On This Day in Berlin History was written by BBS Member Chiara Baroni.

It’s one of four events she has chosen to remember this March. Follow Our Blog to see what else she chooses.