Gustav Mahler
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1860-07-07
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Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler Biography (BBC)

Born on 7 July 1860 in the Bohemian town of Kaliste, Gustav Mahler was the second of 14 children of a Jewish distillery-owner. His parents were ill-matched, but his father at least recognised his son’s musical talents.

Gustav gave his first piano recital at the age of 10, and five years later was taken to the Vienna Conservatory to play for Julius Epstein. He pronounced the 15-year-old ‘a born musician’. Accepted into the conservatory, Mahler made friends with fellow-students Hans Rott and Hugo Wolf, became a devotee of Wagner’s music and Nietzsche’s philosophy, and a supporter of Anton Bruckner. In 1878 he began his first major work, Das klagende Lied (‘The Song of Sorrow’), in which many of the distinctive features of his mature style can already be heard.

Mahler’s career as a conductor began unpromisingly, conducting operetta at the Austrian provincial theatre of Bad Hall, but his obvious talent led to successive appointments at Olmütz, Kassel, Prague, Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg and, in 1897, the Vienna Court Opera. There he was lauded by many but persecuted by the city’s strong anti-Semitic faction, forcing his resignation in 1907 – the year that he was diagnosed with the serious heart condition that was to kill him four years later.

Mahler left Europe for New York, making his Metropolitan Opera debut on 1 January 1908 and becoming conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1909, though he returned to Vienna to die.

In the midst of this demanding schedule, he composed whenever he could. His first important works were songs and song-cycles, notably Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (‘Songs of a Wayfaring Lad’, 1883–5) and the settings of folk or folk-inspired poems from the 19th-century collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn (‘The Youth’s Magic Horn’, 1888–1901).

Still more impressive are the grief-saturated Kindertotenlieder (‘Songs on the Deaths of Children’, 1901–4) and the great ‘song-symphony’ Das Lied von der Erde (‘The Song of the Earth’, 1908–9). Mahler also completed nine symphonies, and left a 10th in sketch score. For Mahler the symphony had to be ‘like the world – it must embrace everything’, and even those that have neither sung texts nor programmes appear to invite programmatic or philosophical interpretations.

Though in many respects a post-Wagnerian Romantic, Mahler became increasingly forward-looking, and it is no surprise that 20th-century composers as diverse as Schoenberg, Berg, Shostakovich, Britten, Henze and Boulez have all acknowledged an abiding debt to him.

Profile © Stephen Johnson

Gustav Mahler Biography (Wikipedia)

Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century. While in his lifetime his status as a conductor was established beyond question, his own music gained wide popularity only after periods of relative neglect, which included a ban on its performance in much of Europe during the Nazi era. After 1945 his compositions were rediscovered by a new generation of listeners; Mahler then became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of all composers, a position he has sustained into the 21st century. In 2016, a BBC Music Magazine survey of 151 conductors ranked three of his symphonies in the top ten symphonies of all time.

Born in Bohemia (then part of the Austrian Empire) to Jewish parents of humble origins, the German-speaking Mahler displayed his musical gifts at an early age. After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory in 1878, he held a succession of conducting posts of rising importance in the opera houses of Europe, culminating in his appointment in 1897 as director of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper). During his ten years in Vienna, Mahler—who had converted to Catholicism to secure the post—experienced regular opposition and hostility from the anti-Semitic press. Nevertheless, his innovative productions and insistence on the highest performance standards ensured his reputation as one of the greatest of opera conductors, particularly as an interpreter of the stage works of Wagner, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Late in his life he was briefly director of New York's Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.

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Gustav Mahler Performances & Interviews


Gustav Mahler Tracks

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor
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Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor

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Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 4 in G major for soprano and orchestra
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Symphony no. 4 in G major for soprano and orchestra
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 1
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Symphony No 1
Gustav Mahler
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
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Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Gustav Mahler
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Rückert Lieder)
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Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Rückert Lieder)
Gustav Mahler
Um Schlimme Kinder
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Um Schlimme Kinder
Gustav Mahler
Mahler: Symphony 2 (Urlicht, Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht)
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Mahler: Symphony 2 (Urlicht, Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 6 in A minor
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Symphony No. 6 in A minor
Gustav Mahler
Das Lied von der Erde: 3. Von Der Jugend
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Das Lied von der Erde: 3. Von Der Jugend
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no.7 (2nd mvt)
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Symphony no.7 (2nd mvt)
Gustav Mahler
Liebst du um Schönheit (Rückert-Lieder)
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Liebst du um Schönheit (Rückert-Lieder)
Gustav Mahler
Urlicht (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
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Urlicht (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
Gustav Mahler
ymphony no. 2 in C minor (Resurrection)
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ymphony no. 2 in C minor (Resurrection)
Gustav Mahler
Mahler: Symphony No 4 (4th mvt)
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Mahler: Symphony No 4 (4th mvt)
Gustav Mahler
Das Lied Von Der Erde: IV. Von der Schönheit
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Das Lied Von Der Erde: IV. Von der Schönheit
Gustav Mahler
Lieder und Gesange aus der Jugendzeit (Ablosung im Sommer)
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Lieder und Gesange aus der Jugendzeit (Ablosung im Sommer)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 3 in D minor (3rd movement)
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Symphony No 3 in D minor (3rd movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No.5
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Symphony No.5
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 9 (3rd movement)
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Symphony No 9 (3rd movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 7 (3rd movement)
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Symphony No 7 (3rd movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 2 in C minor (3rd movement)
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Symphony No 2 in C minor (3rd movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 1 in D major (3rd movement)
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Symphony No 1 in D major (3rd movement)
Gustav Mahler
Des Antonins von Padua Fischpredigt (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
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Des Antonins von Padua Fischpredigt (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 2 in C minor (5th movement)
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Symphony No 2 in C minor (5th movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 10 (3rd movement) (compl. Deryck Cooke)
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Symphony No 10 (3rd movement) (compl. Deryck Cooke)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 4 (4th movement)
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Symphony No 4 (4th movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 8 (Part 1, extract)
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Symphony No 8 (Part 1, extract)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 6 (4th movement)
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Symphony No 6 (4th movement)
Gustav Mahler
Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n' (Kindertotenlieder)
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Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n' (Kindertotenlieder)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 4 (4th movement)
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Symphony No 4 (4th movement)
Gustav Mahler
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Rückert-Lieder)
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Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Rückert-Lieder)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 6 in A minor (1st movement)
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Symphony No 6 in A minor (1st movement)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor (4th movement)
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Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor (4th movement)
Gustav Mahler
Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
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Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen (Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
Gustav Mahler
Die zwei blauen Augen (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen)
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Die zwei blauen Augen (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen)
Gustav Mahler
Liebst du um Schönheit (Ruckert-Lieder)
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Liebst du um Schönheit (Ruckert-Lieder)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor (4th mvt, Adagietto)
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Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor (4th mvt, Adagietto)
Gustav Mahler
Das Lied von der Erde (Der Einsame im Herbst)
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Das Lied von der Erde (Der Einsame im Herbst)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 9
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Symphony no. 9
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 9, 4th Mvt
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Symphony No 9, 4th Mvt
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No 10 (3rd mvt)
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Symphony No 10 (3rd mvt)
Gustav Mahler
Rückert Lieder (Um Mitternacht)
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Rückert Lieder (Um Mitternacht)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 5 in C sharp minor (4th mvt)
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Symphony no. 5 in C sharp minor (4th mvt)
Gustav Mahler
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht)
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Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No.1 (3rd mvt)
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Symphony No.1 (3rd mvt)
Gustav Mahler
Adagietto from Symphony No.5
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Adagietto from Symphony No.5
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no 7 in E minor
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Symphony no 7 in E minor

Symphony no 7 in E minor

Orchestra
Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra
Conductor
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 1 in D major (2nd mvt)
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Symphony no. 1 in D major (2nd mvt)
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No.5 (4th mvt: Adagietto)
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Symphony No.5 (4th mvt: Adagietto)
Gustav Mahler
Das Lied Von Der Erde - IV. 'Von der Schonheit'
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Das Lied Von Der Erde - IV. 'Von der Schonheit'
Johann Sebastian Bach
Air (Bach Suite)
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Air (Bach Suite)
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