In an age of artistic accomplishment, Gustav Mahler stood out as one of the supremely gifted musicians of his generation. As a composer, he won acclaim for his startling originality. As a conductor, his relentless pursuit of perfection was sometimes seen as tyrannical by the singers and musicians who came under his baton. And always, even with his greatest triumphs, he provoked controversy among the critics. Now Henry-Louis de La Grange, Mahler's celebrated biographer, offers new insight into Mahler's life and work with his latest look at the career of this musical genius.
In Mahler in Vienna, La Grange follows the great musician to the intellectual and artistic capital of turn-of-the-century Europe. From Mahler's spectacular debut as director of the Vienna Court Opera to his triumphant tour of the continent, we see him at the height of his powers. La Grange vividly portrays the marvelous spectacle, including the extraordinary range of artists who worked with Mahlerthe composers Dvorak, Gustave Charpentier, Richard Strauss, Zemlinsky, and Schoenberg; the painters, architects, and decorators of the Secession (led by Klimt); and the writers Hauptmann, Dehmel, Hofmannsthal, and Schnitzler. In Vienna, the conductor worked a revolution in standards of performance and (along with Secession painter Alfred Roller) scenic illustration. It was also during this period that he wrote some of his best-loved symphoniesincluding his Fourth and Fifthand his three orchestral song-cycles and collections, the Wunderhorn-, Ruckert-, and Kindertotenlieder. For each of these works La Grange provides full notes and analytic descriptions. And the author does not neglect Mahler's temptestuous personal life, for during these years he met Alma Schindler"the most beautiful woman in Vienna." La Grange deftly captures the story of their engagement and marriage in 1902.
Mahler remains one of the greatest figures in the history f music, a man whose work provokes strong reactions today as in his own time. This account is just one part of the definitive four-volume biography Gustav Mahler, the result of a thirty-year research project; the author has personally translated it from his original French into English. Scrupulously researched and insightfully written, this volume is a brilliant account of a critical epoch in Mahler's life.