Bohemian Wunderkind – Gustav Mahler

Day 11 of Colourisation Project – May 18th

May 18th marks the passing of Gustav Mahler in 1911, 103 years ago. Born in Bohemia when it was part of the Austrian empire (now in Czech Republic) into a German-speaking, Ashkenazic Jewish family, Mahler was both a composer and a conductor.

From the age of 4, when he discovered his grandparents’ piano, Mahler was considered a Wanderkind. He gave his first public performance at the age of 10.   Mahler is generally recognized as the last great German symphonist, having completed 9 symphonies (No. 10 remained in sketch form when he died.) 

Although his music was largely ignored for 50 years after his death due to the Nazi regime in Germany, Mahler was later regarded as an important forerunner of 20th-century techniques of composition. He became artistic director of the Vienna Court Opera in 1897, at the age of 37. In 1908 Mahler made his New York debut at the Metropolitan Opera and Philharmonic Society of New York. In 1911 he returned to Vienna where he died of infections arising from defective heart valves. He was only 50 years old. 


Photo: 1892 Leonhard Berlin-Bieber (1841–1931) Colourised by Loredana Crupi


“If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music.” Gustav Mahler



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