Symphony No.8 in E flat major ('Symphony of a Thousand')
Gustav Mahler


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Up 16 places, Mahler's monumental Symphony of a Thousand proves that it's a perennial favourite — it's never been out of the chart

There's a supreme confidence in much of Mahler's music — it sounds like he was a man who was utterly assured of his own position in the world. And yet, when it came to his eighth symphony, he was troubled, wondering whether he could come up with the goods again.

In 1906, while on holiday, Mahler wrestled with this barren future, this wasteland of musical ideas. And then, as he powerfully recalled: 'On the threshold of my old workshop, the spiritus creator took hold of me and shook me and drove me on for the next eight weeks until my greatest work was done.' Within two months, he had composed a mighty choral symphony.

An astonishing work, it encompasses settings of the Latin text 'Veni, creator spiritus', a message about the nature of redemption, references to the Holy Spirit, a section of Goethe's Faust, and a deep expression of love from the composer to his wife.