The Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of music director Frederick Stock first performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 on March 22 and 23, 1907. Critical reception was, shall we say, mixed.

“Ugly symphony is well played . . . Mahler of Vienna writes bad music,” proclaimed reviewer Millar Ular of the Examiner the morning after the first performance. He goes on to write that rather than title the symphony “The Giant,” it might be better titled “The Octopus” due to its ugliness, “The Dachshund” due to its length, or “Chaos” due to its purported lack of form. As the Chicago Journal dramatically stated in a separate review, Mahler’s Fifth is “a long and tedious work” and “Mahler is a musical allopath, and those who remained to hear him out suffered from an overdose.”

And even the public expressed their opinion, as “before it was done, fully half the audience had fled.”

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