Gustav Mahler

Day 61 of Colourisation Project – July 7

Today’s subject for colourisation, Gustav Mahler is an outstanding and complex musician. In his own words, “if a composer could say what he had to say in words, then he would not bother trying to say it in music.

My words here cannot convey the beauty of his music. All I that can do here is to give you a very brief introduction to the man and simply say…”you just have to listen to his music,”  (from the musical score of the movie, Death in Venice starring Dirk Bogarde  –  the Adagietto from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, which opens and closes the film).

Born in Austria this day, July 7 in 1860, Gustav Mahler is hailed as one of the leading conductors of his generation.   Also a composer he became popular in the late 19th century for his emotionally charged and subtly orchestrated symphonies.

Mahler had a distinguished international career serving as director for the Vienna Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera in the late 1800s. He wrote ten symphonies during his career and his work is now widely acknowledged as an important link between the traditionalism of late 19th century and the modernism of the 20th century. His third symphony at approximately 95 minutes is currently the longest of all symphonies in the general symphonic repertoire.

Gustav Mahler

Photographer: A Dupont – Gustav Mahler in 1909 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

In addition to his orchestral music, Mahler wrote a number of songs of uncommon beauty, some of which were re-used in orchestral settings, includindg settings of poems from the Romantic anthology Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magic Horn), Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) and Rückert’s Kindertotenlieder (Songs of the Death of Children).

While his stature as a conductor was established in his own time, his own music did not gain wide popularity until 40 or so years after his death. In the 1950s after a period of obscurity and relative neglect including a ban on the performance of his music in much of Europe during the Nazi regime, his music was re-discovered and championed by a new generation of listeners. 

Gustav Mahler died in 1911. His works are now frequently performed and recorded.


“My time will come.”  Gustav Mahler

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1 Response to Gustav Mahler

  1. Pingback: Richard Strauss – Reluctant Nazi? | Random Phoughts

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