Symphony for Orchestra and One Really Big Hammer

Over the years, composers have requested unusual additions to the standard orchestra in order to make their music come alive. One of the most interesting, in my opinion, would be the instrument Gustav Mahler wrote into his Symphony No. 6 in A Minor.

Mahler asked for a sound that’s “brief and mighty, but dull in resonance and with a non-metallic character (like the fall of an axe)” (; mild language and inaccuracies in link), but he never specified which instrument should deliver the blow. Most people’s solution? A gigantic hammer.

I’d be willing to bet quite a bit that every single other person in those orchestras who doesn’t get to play the giant hammer are tremendously envious–even if some of them might not want to admit it!


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