The pieces the Symphony will play by Georges Bizet and Gustav Mahler have an odd element in common: both were originally written to accompany unsuccessful stage plays. Bizet extracted “L’Arlesienne Suite #1” and Mahler recast “Blumine”—but it has an even more complicated history.
Mahler adapted it for his first symphony. It was the basis of the second movement, but after this symphony’s first performances, Mahler eliminated the second movement entirely, and made this a stand-alone work. “The first symphony is played a lot,” Paul Cummings notes, “but this piece is seldom played at all.”