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Little is known about the genesis of Mahler's “Symphony No. 1”. A connection to two women – the singer Johanna Richter and Marion von Weber – is documented, which may have been the reason that Mahler took efforts not to let very much be known about it. Originally, “Blumine” was planned as the second movement of the symphony. It was composed in 1884 as a part of a set of “living pictures” based on Scheffel's “Trompeter von Säkkingen” which Mahler otherwise destroyed.
His “Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen” are thematically related to the symphony and were also composed in that same year. There is a large break between these preliminary studies and the final version of the symphony which Mahler wrote in just six weeks in the spring of 1888; he said that it “virtually gushed like a mountain stream” (letter to Friedrich Löhr in March 1888). There must have been further preparatory work in this period, but almost nothing datable has survived.
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