'''Symphony No. 6 in A minor''' by Gustav Mahler, sometimes referred to as the ''Tragische'' ("Tragic"), was composed between 1903 and 1904 (rev. 1906; scoring repeatedly revised). The work's first performance was in Essen, on May 27 1906, which was conducted by the composer.
The tragic, even nihilistic, ending of No. 6 has been seen as unexpected, given that the symphony was composed at what was apparently an exceptionally happy time in Mahler's life: he had married Alma Schindler in 1902, and during the course of the work's composition his second daughter was born.
The symphony is far from the most popular of Mahler's works. Statistics compiled by League of American Orchestras show that over the seven seasons in the U.S. and Canada ending with 2008-2009, the symphony was programmed considerably less often than Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5.http://www.americanorchestras.org/images/stories/ORR_0809/ORR_Composers_GN_0809.pdf However, both Alban Berg and Anton Webern praised it when they first heard it: for Berg it was "the ''only'' sixth, despite the Pastoral";Alban Berg, letter to Webern while Webern conducted it on more than one occasion.