One of the many scandals in music history. The first performance of his first symphony in 1889 was appreciated by critics, but shocking for the rest of the audience. Many thing would change in music at the end of the nineteenth century and this was just a start. But what was so scandalous then?
Mahler started writing his first symphony in 1884, and he finished it long after he wrote his second and third. The version performed in 1889 was revised and not published until ten year later. The version of 1889 had a second part that he later removed for publication. It was found again in 1967.
In this symphony, Mahler keeps contrasting styles. He juxtaposes radically different music styles like peasant music with urban songs. It makes this music a bit funny at times, but also chaotic. It is a collection of short melodies. In the end Mahler brings them all together, expressing nostalgia to a pastoral world that no longer exists. He unfolds the ideal of childhood innocence, but also shows its fragility.
This performance is done by Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. For this particular work it is not the best I have heard, but it certainly stands out.