Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler was born on 7th July 1860 in the village of Kalischt (now part of Czech Republic). He was leading music composer and director of his time. The reason for his fame and popularity was the post-romantic music he composed in his active years in music. However his music was not much appreciated and accepted by the music community while he was alive. Gustav’s style was mainly depicted the symphonies and vocal music he wrote over the years.

Gustav finished his first symphony in 1888 but it wasn’t a big success and people didn’t quite understand his work. However he wasn’t disappointed by the reaction of the audience and created another symphony which was a combination of two forms of music composition. He was not lucky this time either as the people responded to this symphony with the same incomprehension.

Gustav belonged to a humble Jewish family. His talents in music were recognized at a very early age and he was tutored by a pianist when he was merely six years old. His parents remained supportive of him throughout his learning process and arranged whatever they could to help him learn. He then learned piano, harmony and compositions from a number of tutors in the time span of three years and later joined Vienna University where he studied music along with history and philosophy. This is where he made his first attempt to compose music and participated in a competition but failed to win. He then learned to conduct and soon made a name in the profession. He took several jobs meanwhile including the job at Hamburg Opera where he stayed for around six years and the directorship at Vienna Opera which was the most honored musical position in Austria. He remained at the opera for nearly 10 years working 9 months a year. He brought great reforms and lifted the opera to much greater heights bringing worldwide attention to Vienna. But in the meantime he made some enemies as well and suffered. He surprisingly resigned from the prestigious musical position in 1907 and joined New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gustav, although a great conductor, was forced to resign from his position at the Philharmonic due to his dictorial ways. Soon after this incident he parted his ways with opera as well and resigned. He then took a job at the New York’s Metropolitan as the principal conductor. In the meantime unfortunately his daughter died at the age of four and soon he found that he had a faulty heart valve as well. His problems kept on stacking as his marriage didn’t quite work out and he had problems with his wife, Alma Schindler. Even with all these personal life problems he was a great success in his profession and his work never suffered and he reached great fame and popularity because of his conducting skills.

Gustav Mahler wrote many songs and composed many vocal works in his lifetime but his symphonies were the main reason of his fame. He composed a total of 10 symphonies in his lifetime. The 10th and last was left unfinished due to his tragic death due to a blood infection. He died on May 18, 1911 aged 50 and was buried in Vienna alongside the grave of his daughter as per his will. His wife lived for a long time after his death and made a considerable effort to publish material about Gustav’s life and keep his name alive but historians consider them as untrue which is why perception about Gustav Mahler is often negative.


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