Das klagende Lied

Das Klagende Lied

Das klagende Lied

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Das klagende Lied (Song of Lamentation) is a cantata by Gustav Mahler, composed between 1878 and 1880 and greatly revised over the next two decades. In its original form, Das klagende Lied is one of the earliest of his works to have survived (the Piano Quartet movement in A minor is believed to date from 1876).

Compositional History

Mahler began to write the text of Das klagende Lied (presumably basing it on the fairy tale of the same name by Ludwig Bechstein and/or Der singende Knochen (The Singing Bones) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm) during the early part of his final year in the Vienna Conservatory, where he was a student between 1875 and 1878. The draft text for the work is dated 18 March 1878, and composition of the music began in the Autumn of 1879 and was completed on 1 November 1880. The work is laid out on a very large and complex scale, requiring a large orchestra and taking 60–70 minutes to perform in full.

As originally composed, Das klagende Lied was in three parts:

  1. Waldmärchen (Forest Legend)
  2. Der Spielmann (The Minstrel)
  3. Hochzeitsstück (Wedding Piece)


The first performance did not take place until 1901, by which time Mahler had subjected his original score to several major revisions. The first revision of the work took place in the second half of 1893. This featured a significant reduction and re-arrangement of the orchestral and vocal forces, with the number of harps in the first part being reduced from six to two, and the vocal soloists from eleven...
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