Mahler Analysis

Second Movement Analysis

Mit vollen Segeln ("Under Full Sail")

The second movement is a modified minuet and trio. The minuet is replaced by a Ländler, a 3/4 folk-dance originating from Landel, Austria. August Beer described the movement as transporting the listener "to the village pub. It has the title Scherzo but is an honest-to-goodness peasant dance. The piece is full of healthy realism taken from everyday life, with purring, buzzing basses, shrieking violins, and squeaking clarinets, to which the peasants dance their ‘stomper’."

The movement is divided into two parts: the opening main section, and the trio.
The main movement begins as a ländler, changing into a waltz. The trio section is a mixture of a slow ländler and valse.

Bar Number: Section: Mahler’s Tempo Markings
1-174 Opening main section minim (half-note) = 66
175-358 Trio minim (half-note) = 54

The movement opens with with the following motif played by the bass:
Bass Theme Waltz

(MP3 Format)
The Ländler’s main theme is then introduced in the woodwinds over the top of the bass motif:
Main Theme

(MP3 Format)
This theme is repeated throughout the Ländler, being shared around the different sections of the orchestra. Mahler develops and builds upon the theme leading upto the Ländler’s energetic finish. Similarities can be found between Mahler’s early lied Hans und Grete written in 1880 and the rhythms and turns found in the main movement. The following ostinato rhythms and motifs form the basis of much of the movement:

Rhythm 1 Rhythm 2 Music Motif

The trio section takes the form of a slow waltz, providing a contrasting character to the main section of the movement. A modified version of the Ländler returns at the end of trio section in a shorter, more heavily orchestrated form.

The broad harmonic area covered, especially in the middle section of the main Ländler movement (bars 53-107), in addition to the dissonant harmony and unrefined musical gestures used by Mahler all help achieve the unsophisticated peasant-like character of the movement.