Why? That question booms, tingles and rages throughout Gustav Mahler's 2nd Symphony. He would eventually work on it for eight years (from 1888 to 1894), and from the overwhelmingly gigantic first part work towards an even more grandiose finale – to formulate a possible answer to that existential question. Fully aware that it would only be a tentative answer.
'… this is about the big question: 'Why have you lived? Why have you suffered? Is it all some huge, awful joke?" We have to answer these questions somehow if we are to go on living – indeed, even if we are only to go on dying! Anyone who has heard this call once must answer – and I will give the answer, in the last part.' Gustav Mahler
Mahler saw every element of this symphony in superlatives: the instrumentation, the number of movements, the duration, the themes, motifs … everything had to be more, more elaborate, more heroic.
The result is an astonishing titanic work that breaks through symphonic boundaries and puts aside man's deep fear of death: 'I shall die, that I may live'. The unshakable faith in the resurrection sustains man, the light emerges victorious from battle.
'Believe you were not born in vain! You have not lived and suffered in vain! On wings you will soar, to see the Light.'
Sinfonie Nr. 2 C-Moll "Auferstehung"