The first movement TTrauermarsch” – funeral march – (With measured steps. Severe. Like a conduct) is thematically and formally an integral part of the second. The powerful scherzo, which Mahler considered to be the most important movement of the symphony, was followed by an “Adagietto” for harp and strings, Mahler’s certainly most popular symphonic movement. According to Wilhelm Mengelberg, this music represents Mahler’s declaration of love to Alma Schindler, he met in November 1901 and married in March 1902. For the final movement, Mahler chose for the first time a rondo form. He will deal with it again in the finale of the Seventh.
For this symphony, Mahler demanded an enormous orchestral apparatus with a big orchestrated brass choir, which carries the musical action for a long time. The dominant of the brass sound had disadvantageous consequences for the distribution of the work.