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Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler

The Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) introduced innovations that had a profound influence on the Viennese composers of the next generation and initiated significant trends in operatic production that set a new standard.

Gustav Mahler once said: "Composing a symphony means, to me, building a new world with every available technical means. The ever-new and changing content determines its own form." This free concept of symphonic form included such innovations as "progressive tonality," that is, beginning a symphony in one key and ending it in a quite different one. Such practices were often misunderstood and rejected by Mahler's contemporaries. However, he became resigned to this, for, as he liked to say, "My time will yet come." His prophecy proved to be right, for in the second half of the 20th century he became one of the most popular symphonic composers.

Mahler can be seen as an important transitional figure between the 19th and 20th centuries. His taste for gigantic forms, monumental instrumentation, and long lyrical themes (often derived from his own songs) is certainly related to 19th-century esthetic ideals. So, too, is his frequent inclusion of the chorus or the solo voice in his symphonies—an idea inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Mahler's last works, especially the Ninth Symphony and the unfinished Tenth Symphony, show ever greater economy in the use of available means. Many sections of these works are almost like chamber music in their soloistic treatment of instruments. Such passages were well understood and used as models by Arnold Schoenberg and his disciples. This kind of instrumentation, as well as Mahler's increasing freedom in the handling of tonality, foreshadowed the new age's ideal of sound. Thus, for all his romantic, 19th-century traits, in many ways Mahler can be considered a truly "modern" composer.

Mahler was born on July 7, 1860, in Kaliště, Bohemia. When he was a few months old, his family moved to the larger town of Jihlava (Iglau), where the father, Bernhard, kept a distillery and bar. Here Gustav acquired his first musical impressions. Loitering in the neighborhood of the military barracks, he learned many marches, which he would play on the accordion. At the age of 4 he could sing about 200 folk songs, which he learned from the family maid. Perhaps the great emphasis on march rhythms and folklike melodies in his works comes in part from these sources.

Mahler's musical gifts developed rapidly, and his ambitious father did all he could to advance them. At the age of 15 the boy was taken to Vienna, where he was immediately accepted at the conservatory. His career there was a successful one; he won prizes in both composition and piano playing. Most of his works from that time are lost, but two song fragments and part of a piano quartet in A minor were preserved. The first movement of the quartet is virtually complete in manuscript except for a missing passage in the piano part which is easily reconstructed. It shows the influence of Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann but, especially in its principal theme, already foreshadows later Mahlerian ideas.

Mahler graduated in July 1878. That fall he began the composition of the cantata Das klagende Lied (The Song of Grief). He wrote the text himself, basing it on fairy tales by Ludwig Bechstein and the Grimm brothers. The work, finished the following year, was submitted for the Beethoven Prize, but the judges rejected it. Between 1878 and 1883 Mahler worked at three operas: Herzog Ernst von Schwaben, Die Argonauten, and Rübezahl. The music of all of them has been lost, but the manuscript of the Rübezahl libretto has survived.

In 1880 Mahler took a conducting position in the lightopera theater at the summer resort of Bad Hall in Upper Austria. This was the first of many opera-conducting posts he was to hold until 1897: Ljubljana, Olomouc, Kassel, Prague, Leipzig, Budapest, and Hamburg. Theatrical duties generally kept him fully occupied during these winter seasons, so that he was forced to be a "summer composer." Nevertheless, he completed important works. The Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (1883-1885; Songs of a Wayfarer), composed to his own texts, reflect his unhappy love affair with the soprano Johanne Richter in Kassel. They furnished major thematic material for the First Symphony (1884-1888). The Second Symphony (1887-1894) is often known as the Resurrection Symphony, after its grandiose choral setting of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock's resurrection hymn. The Third Symphony (1893-1896), with its six extended movements, is perhaps the longest symphony ever written.

Mahler became the director of the Vienna Court Opera in 1897. He brought new standards to that institution and initiated many reforms which are taken for granted today. He was the first in Vienna to bar latecomers from the opera house till the end of an act. He performed Richard Wagner's music dramas without cuts, following the stylistic principles established by Wagner at Bayreuth. In producing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's operas, too, Mahler strove for stylistic authenticity, restoring the recitatives with harpsichord accompaniment which had often been cut by his predecessors. He tried to simplify operatic staging, seeking symbolism rather than excessive realism; the painter Alfred Roller, who became his stage designer, helped him to achieve this aim.

Despite his heavy responsibilities at the opera house, Mahler was able to compose five symphonies during his Vienna years. The Fourth (1899-1900) is a cheerful work; its finale is a delightful song for soprano based on a poem from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn), a collection of folk poetry which was one of Mahler's favorite text sources. The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies (1901-1905) are purely instrumental; they show his ever-increasing mastery of his chosen medium. The Eighth (1906-1907), for eight vocal soloists, double chorus, and boys' chorus, with a very large orchestra, was nicknamed the Symphony of a Thousand at the time of its first performance, under the composer's direction, in 1910. An innovation here was the setting of texts in two different languages: the Latin hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, Creator Spirit) and the final scene of Goethe's Faust. Important songs of the Vienna period were the Sieben Lieder aus letzter Zeit (1899-1904; Seven Last Songs; texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn and by Friedrich Rückert) and the Kindertotenlieder (1901-1904; Songs on the Death of Children; texts by Rückert).

The intrigues of Mahler's professional and personal enemies forced him to leave the Vienna Court Opera in 1907. His final seasons as a conductor were spent in New York City, where he was very successful at the Metropolitan Opera and the Philharmonic. He knew that, because of a serious heart condition, he might die soon. In this knowledge, he composed his last and greatest works. Das Lied von der Erde (1907-1908; The Song of the Earth) is a six-movement symphony with alto and tenor soloists; the texts are from a collection of translated Chinese poetry, Die chinesische Flöte (The Chinese Flute) by Hans Bethge. The dominating theme is the transitoriness of human existence in the face of eternity.

Musically and spiritually, Mahler's last two numbered symphonies are closely related to Das Lied. The Ninth was completed in 1910. Mahler never finished the Tenth, but in recent years several attempts have been made to bring his manuscript into performable condition. This aim was most convincingly realized by Deryck Cooke; his version, first heard in 1964, is still controversial but has been widely performed and recorded with great success.

Mahler conducted his last concert in New York on Feb. 21, 1911, and collapsed immediately thereafter from a severe streptococcal infection. Taken back to Europe, he seemed to recover briefly, but the infection could not be cured. On May 18 he died in Vienna.

Further Reading

A vivid, if often inaccurate, account of Mahler's later life is in Alma Mahler Werfel's memoir, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters (rev. ed. by Donald Mitchell, 1969). The younger Mahler is revealed in Natalie Bauer-Lechner, Recollections of Gustav Mahler, translated by Dika Newlin (publication pending). Bruno Walter, Gustav Mahler (1936; trans. 1941), is a warmly personal appreciation by one of Mahler's greatest interpreters. Dika Newlin, Bruckner-Mahler-Schoenberg (1947), places Mahler in historical perspective and offers analyses of the principal works. Neville Cardus, Gustav Mahler, His Mind and His Music: The First Five Symphonies (1966), is the first detailed study in English of Mahler's first five symphonies and is to be followed by a second volume dealing with the remaining symphonies. Mahler's early works are rather sketchily discussed in Donald Mitchell, Gustav Mahler: The Early Years (1958). H. F. Redlich, Bruckner and Mahler (1955), convincingly links the two composers. Arnold Schoenberg's essay "Gustav Mahler" in his Style and Idea (1950) should not be overlooked by any student of the subject. □

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Mahler, Gustav

Mahler, Gustav

Gustav Mahler (18601911) was a Bohemian-born Austrian symphonic composer whose sprawling sonic canvases were often concerned with death, either as a spur to life or as a tragic and inconsolable end. Mahler grappled with mortality in his personal life as well as in his art.

The desperately comic and the searingly tragic coexist in the composer's ten numbered symphonies and many song cycles. His childhood shows the genesis of this strange pairing. In the building where Gustav lived as a child, the tavern owned by his father was adjacent to a funeral parlor put to frequent use by the Mahler familyeight of his fourteen siblings died before reaching adulthood. Mahler's father was a self-educated, somewhat brutal man, and fights between him and his cultured, delicate wife were common. Piano lessons were a way out of the daily misery for little Gustav, and before long, he was making up distinctive pieces of his own. Mahler's mature output seems an elaboration of that early conflation.

At age fifteen Gustav entered the Vienna Conservatory, where he received a diploma three years later. The early failure of his own music to win recognition sparked a remarkable conducting career that took Mahler to all the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe. Conducting earned him a fortune, but it also meant that composing, his first love, was relegated to the off-season. Throughout much of his life, Mahler composed in isolation in summer cottages.

From the beginning, Mahler declared that his music was not for his own time but for the future. An agnostic, he apparently saw long-term success as a real-world equivalent of immortality. "Mahler was a thoroughgoing child of the nineteenth century, an adherent of Nietzsche, and typically irreligious," the conductor Otto Klemperer recalled in his memoirs, adding that, in his music, Mahler evinced a "piety . . . not to be found in any church prayer-book." This appraisal is confirmed by the story of Mahler's conversion to Catholicism in 1897. Although his family was Jewish, Mahler was not observant, and when conversion was required in order to qualify as music director of the Vienna Court Operathe most prestigious post in Europehe swiftly acquiesced to baptism and confirmation, though he never again attended mass. Once on the podium, however, Mahler brought a renewed spirituality to many works, including Beethoven's Fidelio, which he almost single-handedly rescued from a reputation for tawdriness.

In 1902 Mahler married Alma Schindler, a woman nearly twenty years his junior. They had two daughters, and when Mahler set to work on his Kindertotenlieder a song cycle on the death of childrenAlma was outraged. As in a self-fulfilling prophecy, their oldest daughter died in 1907, capping a series of unrelenting tragedies for the composer. In that same year, Mahler was diagnosed with heart disease and dismissed from the Vienna Court Opera following a series of verbal attacks, some of them anti-Semitic. Mahler left for America, where he led the Metropolitan Opera from 1907 to 1910 and directed the New York Philharmonic from 1909 to 1911.

While in Vienna during the summer of 1910, Mahler discovered that Alma was having an affair with the architect Walter Gropius. He sought out Sigmund Freud, who met the composer at a train station in Holland and provided instant analysis, labeling him mother-fixated. Freud later declared his analysis successful, and indeed Mahler claimed in correspondence to have enjoyed an improved relationship with his wife. But it did nothing to stop the deterioration of Mahler's health.

The Mahler biographer Henry-Louis de La Grange has effectively contradicted the popular image of Mahler as congenitally ill. A small man, Mahler was nonetheless physically active, an avid hiker and swimmer throughout most of his life. Nonetheless, he was a man drunk on work, and he grew more inebriated with age. His response to the fatigue and illness was often simply to work more. In 1901, for example, he collapsed after conducting, in the same day, a full-length opera and a symphony concert. He immediately set to work on his Symphony no. 5, which begins with a funeral march.

Mahler's symphonies divide into early, middle, and late periods, respectively comprising the first four symphonies; the fifth, sixth, and seventh symphonies; and the eighth and ninth, plus "Das Lied von der Erde" and the unfinished Tenth Symphony.

Symphony no. 1 in D is subtitled the "Titan," not after the Greek demigods but after a novel of the same name by Jean Paul Richter. The third movement turns "Frère Jacques" into a minor-mode funeral march. Symphony no. 2 moved the symphonic form into entirely new territory. It was longer and required more forces, including a chorus and vocal soloist, and its emotional range was vast. Though subtitled "Resurrection," its texts make no religious claims. Mahler's Symphony no. 3 remains the longest piece in the mainstream symphonic repertory. Its ninety-five minutes open with a massive movement that swiftly swings from moody loneliness to martial pomp, from brawling play to near-mute meditation. An ethereal final adagio is followed by four inner movements of contrasting content, including a quiet, nine-minute solo for mezzo-soprano to a text by Nietzsche extolling the depth of human tragedy. Symphony no. 4, slender by Mahler's standards, concluded Mahler's first period, in which song played an important role.

Mahler's next three symphonies were wholly instrumental. Symphony no. 5 is easily read as a backward glance at a man's life. It begins with the most magnificent of orchestral funeral marches, announced by a brilliant trumpet solo, and then slowly moves through movements of anguish and struggle toward the penultimate "Adagietto" (Mahler's most famous excerpt), a wordless love song, and finally to the last movement, filled with the promise of youth. Symphony no. 6, subtitled "Tragic," was formally the composer's most tightly structured, and no. 7, subtitled "Nightsong," is, in its odd last movement, the composer at his most parodistic. In no. 8, "Symphony of a Thousand," Mahler returned to the human voice as symphonic instrument, setting texts from the Catholic liturgy and Goethe.

For symphonists, nine is the number to fear. It took on special status for composers when Beethoven died after composing only nine symphonies. From Beethoven on, nine had mystical significance. Schubert died after writing nine symphonies, so did Dvorak and Bruckner. Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms did not get near that number before they shuffled off the mortal coil.

Mahler completed his Symphony no. 8 in 1906. In 1907 came his triple calamities: the death of his daughter, his unamicable separation from Vienna Opera, and the diagnosis of heart disease. It was not a good time to compose a symphony whose number cried death. Mahler thought he could skirt the issue by writing an unnumbered symphony that would function as his ninth without carrying the dreaded digit. Thus, Mahler composed "Das Lied von der Erde" ("Song of the Earth"), a massive song cycle for voices and orchestra, that was in every wayexcept the numberhis Ninth Symphony.

Fate read his Symphony no. 9 as the last and would not allow him to finish a tenth. (The one movement he completed is generally performed as a fragment.) In February 1911 Mahler led the New York Philharmonic one last time at Carnegie Hall and then returned to Vienna, where he died three months later of bacterial endocarditis. The twenty-three minutes of the Ninth's last movement, which have been described as "ephemeral" and "diaphanous," weep without apology. Somewhere near the middle of this very slow (Molto adagio) movement comes a jittery harp figure that mimics the composer's coronary arrhythmia.

In length, the size of the forces required, and emotional scope, Mahler's symphonies have rarely been equaled and never surpassed. It is difficult not to see this inflation as the composer's struggle against mortality. If the world was temporary and afterlife improbable, why not postulate immortality through art? "A symphony should be like the world," Mahler said to fellow composer Jan Sibelius, "It should embrace everything!"

See also: Folk Music; Music, Classical; Operatic Death

Bibliography

Cook, Deryck. Gustav Mahler: An Introduction to His Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Floros, Constantin. Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies, edited by Reinhold G. Pauly and translated by Vernon Wicker. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1997.

La Grange, Henry-Louis de. Mahler. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1973.

Lebrecht, Norman. Mahler Remembered. New York: W.W. Norton, 1987.

Mahler-Werfel, Alma. The Diaries, translated by Antony Beaumont. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000.

Mitchell, Donald, and Andrew Nicholson, eds. The Mahler Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

KENNETH LAFAVE

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Mahler, Gustav

Mahler, Gustav (b Kališt, Bohemia, 1860; d Vienna, 1911). Austrian composer, conductor, and pianist. Began to learn pf. at age 6, giving public recital in 1870. Entered Vienna Cons. 1875. Became friendly disciple, but not pupil, of Bruckner, helping to make pf. duet arr. of 3rd Sym. (1878). While at Cons. comp. and played in perfs. of his own pf. quintet and vn. sonata. On leaving Cons. in 1878 comp. cantata Das klagende Lied, entering it in 1881 for Beethoven Prize but it was rejected. Began career as cond. 1880 at Hall, Upper Austria, followed by posts at Laibach (Ljubljana), Olmütz (1883), and Kassel 1883–5. While in the Kassel post he had an unhappy love-affair recorded in his song-cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Moved to Prague, 1885, and the next year to Leipzig as 2nd cond. to Nikisch. While there he was invited by Weber's descendants to construct an opera from the fragments of Die drei Pintos. This, when prod. in 1888, was very successful. That year he went to Budapest Opera as chief cond. There his genius as cond. and administrator had full rein for the 1st time. In 1889 he conducted the f.p. of his 1st Sym., then simply described as ‘symphonic poem’.

In 1891 Mahler became chief cond. of Hamburg Opera, where he built up a co. of remarkable singers (whom he coached also to be singer-actors), and introduced many new works. He took the co. to London in 1892, his only visit, for perfs. of Wagner's Ring and Tristan, and Beethoven's Fidelio. His 2nd Sym. (Resurrection) was completed 1894 and perf. in Berlin 1895. For the rest of his life Mahler divided his time between comp. in the summer and cond. in the winter. His mus. met at first with hostility, but its quality was recognized by his contemporary Richard Strauss. In 1897, having converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism, he became dir. of the Vienna Court Opera, inaugurating a glorious decade during which he set standards still scarcely surpassed and, with Alfred Roller and others, revolutionized the production, design, and lighting of operas. Built remarkable ens. of singers incl. Mildenburg, Gutheil-Schoder, Slezak, and Mayr. In 1902 he married Alma Schindler, also a musician, by whom he had 2 daughters (the elder died in 1907, aged 4). Between 1896 and 1907, when he resigned his post after controversy, he comp. his Syms. 3 to 8, the song-cycle Kindertotenlieder, and other songs with orch. Each of the syms. was on a huge scale, but perfs. were becoming more frequent throughout Europe, especially through the championship of Mengelberg.

Mahler made his Amer. début on 1 Jan. 1908 conducting Tristan at the NY Met. In 1909 he was appointed cond. of the reorganized NYPO. In 1910 in Munich he cond. the first 2 perfs. of his 8th Sym. (Symphony of a Thousand), returning to NY 2 months later. From 1907 he lived under the shadow of death from a heart ailment. This led in 1911 to a severe blood infection which caused his premature death on 18 May. He left 3 large posthumous works, the song-sym. Das Lied von der Erde and Syms. 9 and 10. Das Lied and the 9th were f.p. in 1911 and 1912 respectively cond. by Bruno Walter in Munich and Vienna. The 10th was long thought to be unfinished and only 2 movts. were pubd. and played until the Eng. scholar Deryck Cooke discovered in 1960 that the work was complete in short score and made a performing version.

Mahler's greatness as a cond. was never contested. But his comps. for many years were regarded with fanatical admiration by a handful of disciples and admirers and equally fanatical scorn by a larger section of musicians. However, the championship of certain conds. and critics led gradually in the late 1950s to a fervent revival of interest. His works were frequently recorded and entered the repertories of the world's leading orchs. to public acclaim. His mus. appealed both to those elements who cherished its romantic eloquence and to the avant-garde who recognized that it bridged the divide between the old and the new. Deeply personal in expression, the extreme chromaticism of works such as the 9th Sym. anticipates the innovations of Schoenberg. The unconventional form of the syms., their juxtaposition of popular elements with mystic passages, the concertante use of solo instrs., the complex and subtle instr. polyphony, the contrasts of irony, pathos, childlike simplicity, and psychological insight, all appealed to later 20th-cent. composers; and audiences found in his mus. a cogent and comprehensive expression of the anxieties and complexities of modern life. He championed the younger generation in his lifetime and became their idol after his death. Prin. works:OPERA: Completion of Weber's Die drei Pintos. F.p. Leipzig 1888, f.p. in England 1962.SYMPHONIES: No.1 in D major (1884–8, rev. 1893, 1896 reduced from 5 to 4 movts., and 1897–8; excluded movt., Blumine, restored in some 20th-cent. perf.). F.p. Budapest 1889, f.p. in England 1903. No.2 in C minor (Resurrection; 1888–94, rev. 1910), for sop., cont., ch., and orch. F.p. Berlin 1895, f.p. in England 1931. No.3 in D minor (1895–6), for cont., women's and boys’ chs., and orch. F.p. Krefeld 1902, f.p. in England 1947. No.4 in G major (1899–1900, rev. 1910), sop. solo in finale. F.p. Munich 1901, f.p. in England 1905. No.5 in C♯ minor (1901–2, rev. 1904–10). F.p. Cologne 1904, f.p. in England 1945 (Adagietto only 1909). No.6 in A minor (1903–5, rev. 1908), f.p. Essen 1906, f.p. in England 1950 (broadcast relay 1947). No.7 in B minor (1904–5, rev. 1909), f.p. Prague 1908, f.p. in England 1913. No.8 in E♭ major (1906–7), for 8 soloists, ch., boys’ ch., and orch. F.p. Munich 1910, f.p. in England 1930. No.9 in D major (1909–10). F.p. Vienna 1912, f.p. in England 1930. No.10 in F♯ major (1910). F.p. of Adagio and Purgatorio Vienna 1924, f.p. in England Adagio 1948, Adagio and Purgatorio 1955. F.ps. of Cooke version: London 1960 (scherzos incomplete), London 1964 (full perf. vers.), London 1972 (final rev.). Note that Mahler himself cond. the f.ps. of the first 8 syms. (Strauss did not conduct f.p. of No.2, as often stated).SONG-SYMPHONY: Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) for cont. (or bar.), ten., and orch. (1907–9). F.p. Munich 1911; f.p. in Eng. 1914; f.p. in Amer., Philadelphia 1916.CANTATA: Das klagende Lied (The Song of Sorrow) for sop., cont., ten., bass, ch., and orch. (1878–80). Orig. in 3 parts. Rev. 1888 to 2 parts. Further rev. 1893–1902. F.p. Vienna 1901, f.p. in England 1956 (vers. with pf. acc. cond. Boult at Oxford, 1914). F.p. of complete 1880 version Vienna 1935, f.p. in England 1970.SONG-CYCLES: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) for v. and pf./orch. (1884, rev. c.1892, 1896). F.p. Berlin 1896, f.p. in England 1927. Kindertotenlieder (Songs of the Death of Children) for bar. (or cont.) and orch./pf. (1901–4). F.p. Vienna 1905, f.p. in England 1913 (pf.), 1924 (orch.).SONGS: 3 Songs for ten. and pf. (1880); 5 Songs for v. and pf. (1880–3), later (1892) pubd. as Book I of Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit (Songs of Youth). Books II and III (comp. 1888–91) are 9 settings from Des Knaben Wunderhorn; Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn, 12 settings for v. and orch./pf. (1888–99); 3 songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn: Wir geniessen die himmlischen Freuden (1892; incorporated into finale of 4th Sym. 1899), Revelge (1899), Der Tamboursg'sell (1901); 5 Lieder nach Rückert for v. and orch./pf.: 1. Ich atmet' einen linden Duft (1901), 2. Liebst du um Schönheit (1902), 3. Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder (1901), 4. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (1901), 5. Um Mitternacht (1901). F.p. Vienna 1905 (excluding No.2).CHAMBER MUSIC: vn. sonata (1876); pf. quintet in A minor (1876); pf. qt. in A minor (1876).ARRANGEMENTS: J. S. Bach's Suite for Orch. in 4 movts. (1st and 2nd from Suite No.2, 3rd and 4th from Suite No.3). F.p. NY 1909; Schubert's Str. Qt. in D minor (Death and the Maiden), for str. orch., c.1894; Beethoven's Str. Qt. in F minor, Op.95, for str. orch. (f.p. Vienna, Jan. 1899) and Str. Qt. in C♯ minor, Op.131, for str. orch.; Bruckner's 3rd Sym. for pf. 4 hands (1878). Also re-orch. Schumann's 4 syms.

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Mahler, Gustav (Meeting with Sigmund Freud)

MAHLER, GUSTAV (MEETING WITH SIGMUND FREUD)

During the summer of 1910, when Freud was vacationing with his family on the North Sea in the Netherlands, Gustav Mahler, in a state of deep depression, decided to consult him. The neurologist Richard Nepallek, a relative of Alma Mahler, was the go-between. The composer's "maddening doubt" led him to put off the meeting on three successive occasions. August 26 was the last day it was possible to meet Freud, since he was getting ready to travel to Sicily together with Sándor Ferenczi.

The meeting took place in a restaurant in Leyden. For four hours there took place a "psychoanalytic session," along the canals of the city where the two men walked. That summer of 1910 Mahler had experienced a personal drama: He feared his wife would leave him and became aware that his life had become that of a neurotic.

In a letter to Theodor Reik, written in 1934, Freud noted Mahler's "brilliant faculty of comprehension." This unique psychoanalytic session allowed him to discover the musician's Marian complex (mother fixation), but "no light was shed on the symptomatic façade of his obsessive neurosis." Freud continued, "If I can believe what I have heard, I have done good work." Mahler, for his part, wrote in a telegram he sent to Alma the day after the meeting, "I'm filled with joy. Interesting conversation. . . ." He died May 18, 1911, nine months later.

Dominique Blin

See also: Music and psychoanalysis; Reik, Theodor; Walter, Bruno.

Bibliography

Jones, Ernest. (1953-1957) Sigmund Freud: Life and work. London: Hogarth Press.

Kuehn, John L. (1965) Encounter at Leyden: Gustav Mahler consults Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalytic Review, 52, 345-364.

La Grange, Henry-Louis de (1973) Gustav Mahler, Vol 3: Le génie Foudroyé, 1907-1911. Paris: Fayard.

Reik, Theodor. (1953). The haunting melody: Psychoanalytic experiences in life and music. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young

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Mahler, Gustav

Gustav Mahler (gŏŏs´täf mä´lər), 1860–1911, composer and conductor, born in Austrian Bohemia of Jewish parentage. Mahler studied at the Univ. of Vienna and the Vienna Conservatory. He was conductor of the Budapest Imperial Opera (1888–90), the Hamburg Municipal Theater (1891–97), the Vienna State Opera (1897–1907), and the New York Philharmonic (1909–11). He also conducted the Metropolitan Opera orchestra (1908–10). As a conductor Mahler was extraordinarily exacting and precise, achieving high standards of performance that have become legendary. His refusal to compromise artistic integrity aroused intense personal opposition in Vienna and New York.

Composing mainly during summers, he completed nine symphonies (the unfinished tenth has been completed by Deryck Cooke) and several songs and song cycles, mostly with orchestral accompaniment. Of the cycles, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen [songs of a wayfarer] (1883–85), Kindertotenlieder [songs on the death of children] (1901–4), and Das Lied von der Erde [song of the earth] (1907–10) are most notable. Mahler followed Bruckner in the Viennese symphonic tradition. He added folk elements to the symphony and expanded it in terms of length, emotional contrast, and orchestral size. He used choral or solo voices in four symphonies: the Second, Third, Fourth, and Eighth; the Eighth is known as the Symphony of a Thousand because of the enormous performing forces required. The thinner texture, wide-ranging melodies, and taut, intense emotionalism of Mahler's late works strongly influenced the next generation of Austrian composers, especially Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg.

See his letters ed. by A. Mahler and D. Mitchell (3d ed., tr. 1973); H.-L. de La Grange and G. Weiss, ed., Gustav Mahler: Letters to His Wife (tr. 2004); N. Lebrecht, Mahler Remembered (1987); biographies by B. Walter (tr. 1941, repr. 1970), K. Blaukopf (tr. 1972), H.-L. de La Grange (tr., 4. vol., 1995–2008), J. Carr (1997), and J. M. Fischer (tr. 2011); C. Floros, Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies (tr. 1994, repr. 2003); T. W. Adorno, Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy (tr. 1996).

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Mahler, Gustav

Mahler, Gustav (1860–1911) Austrian composer and conductor. Mahler conducted the Vienna State Opera (1897–1907) and Metropolitan Opera (1908–10). He completed nine symphonies (the unfinished tenth was left as a full-length sketch) that incorporated folk elements and expanded the size and emotional range of the orchestra. His second, fourth and eighth symphonies feature choral parts. Other works include the song cycles Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth, 1908) and Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children, 1902).

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