Mahler’s symphonies were deeply autobiographical. So, is his Ninth Symphony – which he wouldn’t live to see performed – about his impending death? Clive Paget unravels the power, mystery and meaning of Mahler’s last completed symphony, and talks with Alexander Briger, who will conduct the work with the Australian World Orchestra in November.

Gustav Mahler
Photograph of Gustav Mahler in the loggia of the Vienna Court Opera House, taken by Moritz Nähr in 1907. Image © Lebrecht Music & Arts/Alamy Stock Photo

Is Mahler’s Ninth the greatest symphony ever written? When BBC Music Magazine asked 151 internationally recognised conductors to come up with a top 20, it charted at number four (Beethoven’s Eroica topped that poll followed by his Ninth, with Mozart’s Jupiter in third place). Mahler’s Ninth, however, was the...