Gustav Mahler



Photos coming soon.

Short Bio

Between finishing my symphony and making sure the brass section stays in tune for ONCE (that means YOU, Johann in the trombone section!), I SUPPOSE I can offer an introduction. And then maybe go hiking- if anything keeps me sane, it's the boundless embrace of nature. I'm Gustav Mahler, Austro-Bohemian Jewish composer and conductor. I like asking the big questions- what happens when we die? How many trumpets can fit onto one stage? Are our lives determined by fate? I try to answer all of these in my music. Well, time to get back to work; I hope JOHANN got his act together for rehearsal.

Famous pieces

  • Das Lied von der Erde
  • Des Knaben Wunderhorn
  • "Adagietto" from Symphony no. 5
  • Symphony no. 1, "Titan"
  • Symphony no. 2, "Resurrection"
  • Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen ("Songs of a Wayfarer")




Fun facts

  • Mahler's favourite food was Marillenknodel, or knodel, a kind of Austrian dumpling with a fruit filling. He especially loved a recipe for knodel with apricot filling by his sister, Justine.
  • Mahler loved nature and spent a lot of time outside. He often hiked, climbed mountains, swam, bicycled, and rowed a canoe.
  • While Mahler conducted operas, including ones by R. Strauss and Wagner, he never wrote any operas himself.
  • Mahler's Sixth Symphony includes a giant hammer that represents fate, which strikes either two or three times. Mahler himself initially wanted the hammer to strike three times, but thought it would tempt fate, so he decided on two strikes instead. However, some conductors today perform the symphony with three hammer strikes.
  • Mahler loved folk and fairy tales, especially a collection of German stories and songs called "Des Knaben Wunderhorn," or "The Boy's Magic Horn." He set many of the "Wunderhorn" stories to music in song cycles, which are also quoted in some of his symphonies.

Musical styles

Mahler is best known for his enormous symphonies, characterized by large ensembles, often including prominent brass, strings, and percussion, as well as more unconventional instruments, such as gongs, rutes (bundles of sticks that function as percussion instruments), tambourines, cowbells, and of course, the hammer used in Symphony no. 6. Many Mahler pieces also include vocalists or choirs as well, such as in Symphony no. 8, nicknamed the "Symphony of a Thousand" by the press due to the instrumentation, which calls for a large orchestra, solo vocalists, two men's choirs, and a children's choir.

During a debate with Sibelius, Mahler famously said, "a symphony must be like the world; it should contain everything." While some people interpret this to mean that a symphony should contain lots of different meanings and themes, which Mahler's music often did, others believe Mahler meant that a symphony should contain different styles of music. We see this with Mahler's work; his symphonies include folk dances like landlers and polkas, military marches, funeral music, Viennese waltzes, Jewish folk songs, even themes influenced by Chinese music. Whatever the case, Mahler's music may seem overwhelming to some listeners, but many others often find something to enjoy in the wide variety of musical styles and themes he uses.

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