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Gustav Mahler – 150 years from his birth

photo:  (Wikipedia)

(1860 - 1911)

In 2010 and 2011, together with the whole of the cultural society, we will recall two important anniversaries concerning the musical composer and conductor Gustav Mahler, whose work represents the culmination of romantic symphony and simultaneously the advent of musical modernism. This year is the 150th anniversary of Mahler’s birth and next year will be the 100th anniversary of his death.

Even though Gustav Mahler is considered an Austrian musical composer and conductor, he can also be claimed a Czech composer to a certain degree with regard to his place of birth and also because of the fact that he was inspired by Czech folk music and his activities in Czech lands.

He was born on 7th July 1860 in the village of Kaliště (map) by the town of Humpolec, which was then located in the Austrian Empire and is now situated in the Czech Republic. He spent his childhood and youth, until he was fifteen years old, in Jihlava. Even as an adult he had many connections with the area and the culture of today’s Czech Republic. This particularly concerned his activities as a conductor in the Royal Municipal Theatre in Olomouc (1883-1885) and in the German Royal Regional Theatre in Prague (1886-1888). In 1908 the world premier of his Symphony no. 8, which the author himself conducted, also took place in Prague in 1908.

He came from a Jewish German speaking family and was sometimes forced to face anti-Semitic attacks as a result of his origin. He had exceptional musical talent and consequently, after taking his final school leaving examination at the Secondary school in Jihlava, he left to study at the conservatory and university in Vienna, where he studied philosophy, history and the history of music.

He started his career as a conductor when he was only twenty years old in Halle. He conducted in Ljubljana, in Olomouc and in Prague and also in Leipzig. In 1888 he became the Art Director at the opera in Budapest, from 1891 he was active as the head of the opera in Hamburg and during the period between 1898 and 1907 he was director of the Court Opera in Vienna. The Viennese Opera experienced the period of its greatest success under his direction. Subsequently Gustav Mahler travelled to the USA where he conducted at the Metropolitan Opera and at philharmonic concerts for the New York Philharmonic Society. He returned to Vienna in 1911 as a terminally ill and artistically exhausted person and he died there on 18th May at the age of 51 years.

A branch of the Vysočina Region Museum was opened in 1994, which placed emphasis on Mahler’s Czech roots and connections with a permanent exhibition titled “The young Gustav Mahler and Jihlava”. The house in which he was born in Kaliště was reconstructed and The house of Gustav Mahler in Jihlava (map) is also in excellent condition. Many important cultural events, the goal of which is to remind people of the importance and heritage of this artistic individual have been prepared within the scope of the anniversary of the birth of this artist. You can find a summary of celebrations here.

Author: Ivana Jenerálová
Source: www.gustavmahler.eu
Added: 07.07.2010

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