Gustav Mahler was an Austrian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century, born in Bohemia as a German-speaking Jew of humble circumstances, Mahler displayed his musical gifts at an early age. During his ten years in Vienna, Mahler—who had converted to Catholicism to secure the regular opposition. Late in his life he was director of New Yorks Metropolitan Opera. Mahlers œuvre is relatively limited, for much of his composing was necessarily a part-time activity while he earned his living as a conductor. Some of Mahlers immediate musical successors included the composers of the Second Viennese School, notably Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten are among later 20th-century composers who admired and were influenced by Mahler. The International Gustav Mahler Institute was established in 1955 to honour the composers life, the Mahler family came from eastern Bohemia and were of humble circumstances, the composers grandmother had been a street pedlar. Bohemia was then part of the Austrian Empire, the Mahler family belonged to a German-speaking minority among Bohemians, from this background the future composer developed early on a permanent sense of exile, always an intruder, never welcomed. Bernhard Mahler, the son and the composers father, elevated himself to the ranks of the petite bourgeoisie by becoming a coachman. He bought a modest house in the village of Kalischt, halfway between Prague in Bohemia and Brno in Moravia, in the center of todays Czech Republic. Bernhards wife, Marie, gave birth to the first of the couples 14 children, a son Isidor, two years later, on 7 July 1860, their second son, Gustav, was born. In December 1860, Bernhard Mahler moved with his wife and infant son, Gustav, to the town of Iglau,25 km to the south-east, the family grew rapidly, but of the 12 children born to the family in Iglau only six survived infancy. All of these elements would later contribute to his musical vocabulary. When he was four years old, Gustav discovered his grandparents piano and he developed his performing skills sufficiently to be considered a local Wunderkind and gave his first public performance at the town theatre when he was ten years old. Although Gustav loved making music, his reports from the Iglau Gymnasium portrayed him as absent-minded. In 1871, in the hope of improving the results, his father sent him to the New Town Gymnasium in Prague. In 1874 he suffered a personal loss when his younger brother Ernst died after a long illness. Mahler sought to express his feelings in music, with the help of a friend, Josef Steiner, he work on an opera
Gustav Mahler, photographed in 1907 at the end of his period as director of the Vienna Hofoper
Mahler was influenced by Richard Wagner during his student days, and later became a leading interpreter of Wagner's operas.
Gustav Mahler's home in Leipzig, where he composed his Symphony No. 1