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.

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Fun Facts

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


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