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David Heyes

Gustav Mahler: A Titan's Fantasy (from Symphony No.1) for double bass sextet (Arranged by Tim Van Medegael)

Gustav Mahler: A Titan's Fantasy (from Symphony No.1) for double bass sextet (Arranged by Tim Van Medegael)

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About the Arrangement

A Titan’s Fantasy by Gustav Mahler, primarily based on the third movement of Symphony No.1, is a masterly arrangement for the intermediate double bass sextet by Tim Van Medegael, Bass Trombonist of Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra. The arrangement is colorful and inventive, with something of interest for each player, and ideal for both study and concert use. 

About the Composition

Symphony No.1 in D major by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was composed between late 1887 and March 1888. At the time, Mahler was a conductor at Leipzig Opera in Germany, and it premiered in Budapest in 1889. He made revisions and changes several times before publication in 1898 and conducted it more than any of his later works. 

The opening of the third movement is remarkable for its double bass solo, accompanied by timpani, based on the popular round ‘Bruder Jakob’, although Mahler calls it ‘Bruder Martin’ and is more commonly known as ‘Frère Jacques’. The eight-bar theme is in the key of D minor, and it is believed that the round was sung in the minor key in 19th-century Austria. 

Tim Van Medegael writes: “On 13 and 15 December 2019, Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra programmed Mahler’s Symphony No.1 in their Hall Flagey, Brussels. To announce this concert, I made a short reflection of Mahler’s symphony with the members of the double bass section of the orchestra. The beginning of the piece is actually also the beginning of the symphony. It moves quickly to the third movement because this opens with timpani and the well-known introduction of the theme by our principal double bass. We recorded it in the rehearsal week at Studio 1 of our beloved Flagey.” 

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