Gustav Mahler

Fun Facts

  • Considered a child prodigy, Mahler began playing the piano and composing from the age of four.

  • Eight of Mahler's siblings died in childhood.

  • An Austrian, German-speaking Jew, Mahler experienced racial discrimination at an early age.

  • Mahler converted from Judaism to Catholicism to win the directorship of the Vienna Court Opera.

  • Mahler's Symphony No. 8 needs so many musicians that it is called the "Symphony of a Thousand."

  • The early morning hours were Mahler's composing hours; later in the day he would swim, run and cycle. 

  • Mahler enjoyed being outdoors, and especially loved alpine trails.

  • In Mahler's tragic Symphony No. 6, he was reflecting on three personal blows:  his forced resignation from the Vienna Opera, the death of his three-year-old daughter, and his diagnosis of heart disease.

  • During his lifetime, Mahler was better known as a conductor than as a composer.

  • Mahler kept a "composing hut" where he could retire to nature and compose in solitude.

  • Mahler had an odd, jerky walk which no one who saw him could fail to notice.

  • Mahler's music has made its way into more than 100 film soundtracks.

  • Mahler's Symphony No. 3 is one of the longest ever composed, clocking in at 95 minutes.

More Resources

Fun Facts

Check out our collection of interesting and (some) little known facts about Mahler.

Biography

View Gustav Mahler's full biography.