Military music and trumpet calls, the sounds of nature and cow bells, funeral march and wooden mallet – there is hardly any kind of music or any instrument missing from the symphonies of Gustav Mahler (born on July 7, 1860 in the Czech town of Kaliste). Beyond this, Mahler also expanded the symphonic form by integrating such vocal genres as the orchestra song or the oratorio into it in a kind of collage structure. This prompted the accusation of eclecticism just as it called for an extraordinary expansion of the expression. In their content, Mahler’s works, based on philosophical ideas, treat such themes as life and death, evanescence and the never-ending return of the same thing. In their approach to both music and content, Mahler’s symphonies figure among the most significant contributions to this genre in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Gustav Mahler died on May 18, 1911 in Vienna.