GUSTAV MAHLER BIOGRAPHY
Gustav Mahler, Tragic Genius Composer,
Conductor and Fatalist, composed The Sixth Symphony "TRAGIC", featuring
his famous "THREE BLOWS OF FATE", which came TRUE in Mahler's own life!
was born in Kaliste, Bohemia on July 7, 1860, one of 14
children, 7 of which died as infants. Although his family was
not musical, Mahler heard music and marches through military
barracks in his town and he began singing and playing the piano.
Mahler was accepted at the Vienna Conservatory at the age of 15
and after graduating in 1878, became a conductor and began
an important conducting career. Mahler was known for being a
demanding and dictatorial conductor.
In 1880, Mahler composed his first important work, the cantata
"Das Klagende Lied" ("The Song Of Lament")
based on a medieval legend. Mahler became primarily known for
LARGE SCALE emotional SYMPHONIES.
Mahler conducted in theaters in Prague (1885), Leipzig ( 1886),
Budapest (1888) and Hamburg (1891). Mahler's
First Symphony "Titan"
was performed in 1889 to an audience who did not understand the
music. Mahler used a
compositional style, which is starting a piece in one key and ending in another. His
contemporaries rejected his music, which caused Mahler to say
"My time will yet come."
series of tragedies in Mahler's life began unfolding with the
deaths of his father and mother in 1889, and then in 1895 with
his youngest brother committing suicide.
In 1895, the premiere of Mahler's
Second Symphony "The Resurrection"
was met with great success. Gustav Mahler was becoming an
internationally well-known conductor and to secure his post as
the Director of the Vienna State Opera, he converted from
Judaism to Roman Catholicism. in 1897.
In 1902, Mahler married
Alma Schindler and had a daughter, Maria. In around 1905, Mahler
composed the song cycle, "Kindertotenleider"
("Songs on the Death of Children").
In 1906 Mahler conducted the first performance of the
Sixth Symphony "Tragic",
which features the famous
"THREE BLOWS OF FATE"
heard in the finale,
which came true in Mahler's own life in 1907:
The FIRST BLOW was Mahler's resigning from the Vienna State
Opera, the SECOND BLOW was the death of his daughter,
Maria, and the THIRD BLOW was the diagnosis of his heart
Mahler was very
superstitious and was fearful of composing a Ninth Symphony,
Schubert and Anton Bruckner
died after writing Nine
Symphonies. Mahler composed his next work in 1908 and called it
"Das Lied von der Erde" ("The Song of the Earth") to avoid
naming it a "Symphony". This powerful masterpiece is for 2 vocal
soloists and orchestra, using Chinese motives and the German
Text from Hans Bethge's book "The Chinese Flute" ("Fortune was
not kind to me in this world!")
In 1909 Mahler become
conductor of New York's Metropolitan Opera and the New York
Philharmonic (1909-1910). Despite his fear of composing
nine symphonies, Mahler actually completed a
Ninth Symphony in 1910
and began work on his Tenth Symphony.
Mahler conducted his last concert at Carnegie Hall
in New York City on Feb. 21, 1911, and collapsed soon after from
a streptococcus infection. He returned to Vienna, but Mahler
never recovered. The tragic Gustav Mahler died in Vienna on May
Mahler's intensely emotional and powerful music have
influenced such modern composers as SCHOENBERG, WEBERN,
SHOSTAKOVICH, BERG and BRITTEN.