Mahler's first large-scale work was a cantata based on folk legend of fratricide, revenge, and a most unusual instrument. Only the first of three parts was performed in Mahler's lifetime. While other obligations inevitably got in the way, Mahler continued to tinker with the early work until well into his forties. In the cantata's search for a magic flower that will allow them marry the queen. Upon finding the flower, the younger brother is killed by his sibling. In the second part, a minstrel discovers one of his bones. As minstrels are wont to do, he immediately fashions the bone into a flute, which "sings" with the voice of the dead brother. Eventually, playing the bone flute at the royal court brings about the wicked brother's downfall.