The Ninth Symphony is the last work, that Mahler has finished.
Like “Das Lied von der Erde”, Mahler’s Ninth Symphony endeavors to obtain a new independence of the several voices, which is reflected in the instrumentation and causes an broken, ascetic orchestral sound.
The first movement starts with a basic motif from “Das Lied von der Erde”. A multitude of passages of previous works is worked up in the symphony (for instance themes from the fourth movement of the Third Symphony, the second movement of the Fifth, the first lied of “Kindertotenlieder”) numerous quotations or reminiscences of motifs by Beethoven and Bruckner do also appear.
In the sketch of the partition, there are informative autographic entries, which show clearly that Mahler associates memories and farewell thoughts with this work. In the first movement, he noted the exclamations: “O youth! Vanished! O love! Scattered!” and “Farewell! Farewell!”