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Gustav Mahler Quotes


Gustav Mahler Gustav Mahler was as brash with his baton as he was bold with his bass solo's, yet in his life time he was never appreciated as a composer but he was too talented as a conductor for even the anti-Semitic Europeans to ignore. He was a musical prodigy that earned a much coveted place in the Vienna Conservatory at the age of 15 and thereafter worked his way up through provincial theatres and opera houses. As his reputation as a conductor grew he often rued his Jewish background in an era of anti-Semitism and in 1897 decided to convert to catholicism. Quite whether this was a conversion of convenience or he was moved by the word of god is anyone's guess although it did yield the rather positive prospect of now being eligible for the highest musical post in the Austrian-Hungary empire, that of artistic director of the Vienna Court Opera. Jews could never be considered for this highly sought after position and it was considered by many as no coincidence that he achieved his ambition of securing this post in the same year of his conversion. He maintained this post for 10 years whilst under constant attack from a hostile press who could not forget his religious background. Mahler was considered more agnostic to religion but more religious to his devotion to music, perhaps he followed the god of melody rather than any of the gods of biblical times. His career and reputation was made as a conductor and he is considered one of the finest conductors of all time but his passion and devotion went towards being a composer. As a composer he was never recognised as one of the greats during his lifetime and Gustav Mahler was often quoted as saying: "My time will come". He was right of course, even after his death in 1911 up until the mid twentieth century his music was not popular. After this period many talented musicians championed his work, not least Leonard Bernstein who did more than most to bring it to the public eye. His works have featured in excess of 100 movies and he has become one of the most frequently performed composers of the latter twentieth and early twenty first centuries. His all action technique with the baton set the tone of conducting up until this day, away from the rostrum he was good for a one liner also, so here is my compilation of 20 of the best Gustav Mahler quotes
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: Gustav Mahler
  • Born: th July 1860, Kalischt, Bohemia, Austrian Empire
  • Died: 11th May 1911, Vienna, Austria-Hungary
  • Alma mater: University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (Vienna Conservatory)
  • Occupation: Composer and conductor
  • Period: Post-Romantic
  • Height: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
  • Influenced by: Anton Bruckner, Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven and Richard Wagner
  • Inspired: Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, Benjamin Britten, Bruno Walter, Daniel Harding, Dmitri Shostakovich, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Bernstein and Otto Klemperer
  • Marriage resume: Alma Schindler 1902 - 1911 (his death)
  • Trivia: He took the composers superstitious “Curse of the Ninth Symphony” seriously and gave the myth added credence when he sadly passed away in the midst of creating his unfinished 10th symphony
  • Quotes about Gustav Mahler: Orchestra director Federico Cortese spoke sympathetically of his undoubted talent: "Mahler was at the pinnacle of the pantheon of symphonic music, much more so than Europeans were ready to accept"
  • The composer Hugo Wolf said appreciatively: "For the first time I have heard The Ring as I have always dreamed of hearing it while reading the score"

"Should a middle-aged man marry a young girl? Has he the right to do so? Can autumn chain spring to its side?"

Gustav Mahler

"You are lucky. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You can go your flowery way, no grim past, no family round your neck, but I have had to stagger on all my life with clods of earth weighing down my feet"

Gustav Mahler

"It's not so simple to marry a person like me. I am free and must be free. I cannot be bound, or tied to one spot. My job at the Opera is simply from one day to the next"

Gustav Mahler

"Of course. Don't forget that I am the child of artists and have always lived among artists and, also, I'm one myself"

Gustav Mahler

"Would that I could perform my symphonies for the first time 50 years after my death"

Gustav Mahler

"The important thing is never to let oneself be guided by the opinion of one's contemporaries; to continue steadfastly on one's way without letting oneself be either defeated by failure or diverted by applause"

Gustav Mahler

"A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything"

Gustav Mahler

"What your theater people call your tradition is your comfort and sloppiness"

Gustav Mahler

"I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way"

Gustav Mahler

"All that is not perfect down to the smallest detail is doomed to perish"

Gustav Mahler

"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire"

Gustav Mahler

"Imagine that the entire universe begins to sing and resonate"

Gustav Mahler

"Melodic invention is one of the surest signs of a divine gift"

Gustav Mahler

"What is best in music is not to be found in the notes"

Gustav Mahler

"I have written into them, in my own blood, everything that I have experienced and endured"

Gustav Mahler

"How can one be happy while a single being on earth still suffers?"

Gustav Mahler

"How often have the inspirations of genius been brought to naught by the crack of a whip"

Gustav Mahler

"My life is not a neat chest of drawers"

Gustav Mahler

"Horrible woman - those scarlet lips"

Gustav Mahler

"My time will come"

Gustav Mahler

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