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Michael Tilson Thomas and the SF Symphony return to the music of Gustav Mahler. Written during an especially sunny period in Mahler’s life, his Sixth Symphony struggles to remain optimistic amid deeply felt angst and apprehension for the future. Opening with a driving march, the first movement blooms into a soaring melody painting Mahler’s love for his wife, Alma. A mischievous scherzo is followed by a sentimental slow movement, while two hammer blows mark the colossal closing movement, a terrifying reminder that fate always has the final word.