More About Mahler and His World

There is a wealth of material available online, on disc and the written page about Gustav Mahler, his life and his works.




YouTube and Videos

There are many documentaries available on YouTube and these two may give some insight into Mahler’s World.

Though brief this documentary by Gavin Plumley includes some beautiful footage of the world that inspired Mahler:

Just in case we think that poor Gustav was all doom, gloom and fin-de-siècle angst CMUSE came up with these ten fun facts about the composer.


And in 1960 Leonard Bernstein took the opportunity at one of his televised Young Peoples Concerts to introduce his audience to Mahler.  It is strange to hear him refer to Mahler as not as well-known as Beethoven.  It can be accessed at:

In their Great Composer series the BBC produced a very fine documentary on Mahler in 2014.  It is available at:

Of course, this is only scraping the surface – a search will reveal much more.

With the emergence of Mahler as a major composer after the Second World War a great deal has been written about both the man and his compositions.  Here are a few that have been recommended.

Gustav Mahler
by Jens Malte Fischer
Yale University Press – 2014
Since it was published in Germany in 2003 it has become regarded as the definitive biography of the composer.  Many new sources were mined, and new material uncovered.

Mahler: A Life
by Jonathan Carr
Overlook Books – 1997
A look at the last years of Mahler’s life and an attempt to separate the man from the fictions that others created about him.

Gustav Mahler
by Bruno Walter
Dover Publication – reprint 2014
Written in 1936 by the great conductor Bruno Walter, who was an assistant and protégé of Mahler’s.  Walter was one of the great champions of the composer’s music.

Gustav Mahler: The Symphonies
by Constantin Floros
Amadeus Press – 2003
A close look at the symphonies, their construction, programmatic and personal aspects.

The Mahler Symphonies: An Owner’s Manual
by David Hurwitz
Amadeus Press – 2004
A useful look at the symphonies for the non-musician though he chooses to omit the unfinished 10th.

Recordings and Performances
The emergence of Mahler as a major composer in the 1960s means that almost every orchestra and conductor with a recording contract has committed to disc their thoughts and performances of the symphonies at least once if not twice or three times.  Which you choose to listen to most likely depend on the conductor you favour.

Earlier this year Gramophone Magazine updated their list of the “best recordings” of all the Symphonies including the 10th.  Based on their data base covering nearly fifty years of reviews from that prestigious source of things classical.  It makes for a fascinating list and read and can be found here:

And the same will apply to performances available on YouTube or other digital sites should you wish to hear a preview of the work.

Gramophone’s preferred recording from 1961 with a young Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic at what was the beginning of the Mahler Renaissance is available.


“It’s not just a question of conquering a summit previously
unknown, but of tracing, step by step, a new pathway to it.”

Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911)


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