Der Tamboursg’sell

From Wind Repertory Project
Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler

Subtitle: From Des Knaben Wunderhorn

N.B. This work is originally in D minor, but also exists in E minor or C minor.

General Info

Year: 1901
Duration: c. 5:15
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra or piano and voice
Publisher: Kalmus
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $50.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


Full Score
Solo Voice
Oboe I-II (doubling English Horn I-II)
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
String Bass
Timpani (2 players)
Percussion (3 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

On the evening of February 24, 1901, Mahler awoke, his bed sheets soaked in blood from a burst hemorrhage. Mahler later commented to Strauss that he lost two and a half liters of blood. This episode undoubtedly left an impression on Mahler, an experience that is certainly linked to the composition of Der Tamboursg’sell and Um Mitternacht in the summer following this midnight episode. “Hovering on the border between life and death, I wondered whether it would not be better to have done with it at once, since everything must come to that in the end. Beside, the prospect of dying did not frighten me in the least ... and to return to life seemed almost a nuisance. I thought my last hour had come.”

Um Mitternacht, from the Rückert-Lieder, was composed in the summer of 1901 and is one of the gems of wind ensemble music from the romantic period. Der Tamboursg’sell (The Drummer Boy) was composed just weeks before as a final song in Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Of the Boy's Wonder Horn), a set of folk poetry that served as an inspiration for Mahler’s songs and symphonies for over a decade. Although Der Tamboursg’sell is often viewed as a song that belongs to Mahler’s earlier period, it was composed much later than the others in the set, and is more closely linked to Mahler’s middle and late compositions, including the RückertLieder, Kindertotenlieder, and the Fifth Symphony.

- Program Note by Jared Chase


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer