Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler (photo: Tully Potter)
Born: 1860
Died: 1911

Mahler is the last great Romantic symphonist, music conceived on the grandest scale and employing elaborate forces. He wanted to express his view of the human condition, to set down his lofty ideals about Life, Death and the Universe. 'My symphonies represent the contents of my entire life.'

Explore Mahler's life and music...

The world's leading Mahler conductors introduce his 10 symphonies and Das Lied von der Erde:

Symphony No 1

Sir Charles Mackerras: 'Mahler wrote huge works but he also had a kind of mania about clarity. Everything had to be audible. He wanted the listener to relish every detail...' Read more

Symphony No 2

Mariss Jansons: 'Why is his music so popular? It’s because in his music there is everything. It’s universal. You find nature, sarcasm, love, hatred, the grotesque, tragedy and comedy...' Read more

Symphony No 3

Lorin Maazel: 'Mahler suffers greatly from being subjected to sentimental mediocrities, with heart-on-sleeve performances that stretch, pull and exaggerate the music...' Read more

Symphony No 4

David Zinman: 'This symphony is a very special work and I will carry on attempting to get to its heart for as long as I live. There is something about that slow movement which is just universal, timeless and beautiful...' Read more

Symphony No 5

Sir Simon Rattle: 'This is a piece desperately longing for a conclusion and one attempt after another fails. You must hear it through to the end; it was a totally new type of symphony...' Read more

Symphony No 6

Christoph Eschenbach: 'We can never understand the soul and thought-processes of such a genius but I  believe this music demonstrates how full of force and energy he was. For him, this was the right time to write this music...' Read more

Symphony No 7

Valery Gergiev: 'I have been conducting for 30  years and, even so, in this music I have to call upon all my resources and all my experience. This sort of orchestral challenge can destroy anyone...' Read more

Symphony No 8

Michael Tilson Thomas: 'The big problem with the whole piece is that the forces are so vast that it’s very easy for it all to become quite thick and quite fat...' Read more

Symphony No 9

Esa-Pekka Salonen: 'All conductors doing Mahler’s Ninth are in awe of the score to some degree. There is something so universal and powerful there – it makes you feel little at times...' Read more

Symphony No 10

Riccardo Chailly: 'In 1960 Deryck Cooke unveiled a masterpiece which was absolutely not known before...' Read more

Das Lied von der Erde

Kent Nagano: 'In the words he sets in Das Lied von der Erde, he is once again seeking loftier ideas in words, and his music again takes us through numerous important aspects of the lifetime of a man or mankind...' Read more

Top 10 Mahler symphony recordings

The ultimate Mahler symphony cycle, with complete Gramophone reviews... Read more

Gramophone collection: Mahler's Rückert-Lieder

Richard Wigmore attempts to choose the ultimate recording of the Rückert-Lieder– a Mahlerian challenge if ever there was one… Read more

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