[[quoteright:280:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Gustav_Mahler_2230.gif]]

->''"[[NeverAcceptedInHisHometown I am thrice homeless]], as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, and [[WanderingJew as a Jew throughout the world]]. [[TheWoobie Everywhere an intruder, never welcomed.]]"''
-->-- '''Gustav Mahler'''

->''"Wouldn't you just '''die''' without Mahler!?"''
-->-- '''Trish in ''Theatre/EducatingRita'''''

Austrian composer and conductor (7 July 1860 - 18 May 1911), one of the last of the Romantic era.

He mostly restricted his output to symphonies and song cycles. Mahler once remarked that "the symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything." No wonder then that his symphonies work on a larger scale than anything previously conceived: some of them have elaborate philosophical programs, like his Symphony no. 3 which, like [[Music/AlsoSprachZarathustra Richard Strauss' tone poem]], is based on [[Creator/FriedrichNietzsche Nietzsche]]'s ''Literature/AlsoSprachZarathustra''. Mahler continually specified larger orchestras and more esoteric instruments; the culmination of this is his Symphony No. 8, which requires a ridiculously large number of musicians: double orchestra, an organist, eight vocal soloists and three choirs. Not surprisingly, then, it is often called the "Symphony of a Thousand".

He seems to have been fond of complaining that [[{{True Art is Angsty}} people did not understand his angst]], and his works [[{{True Art is Incomprehensible}} can sometimes be a little obtuse]].

Nonetheless, they are still considered powerful and emotionally affecting pieces of music. Many of his works, such as his Second and Fifth Symphonies, start out with a despairing and anguished tone that darkens even further throughout the work, only to [[{{Earn Your Happy Ending}} work their way]] to a [[{{Crowning Music of Awesome}} profoundly triumphant and joyous ending]].

He is sometimes viewed as a transitional figure between the romantic era and the early modern era of classical music (particularly German Expressionism), much the way that Beethoven can be viewed as a transition between the classical and romantic eras. Mahler was a major influence for Arnold Schoenberg and his students. In particular, the way that Mahler begins to dissect tonality in his 9th symphony and the parts of the 10th that he did manage to finish -- this leads directly to the 12 tone system that Arnold Schoenberg pioneered.

[[{{Author Existence Failure}} Mahler died before he could complete his Tenth Symphony]]. Interestingly, he had feared exactly this: he believed in the "Curse of the Ninth", which states that a composer has to die after completing his/her ninth symphony, as had happened to Creator/LudwigVanBeethoven, FranzSchubert[[labelnote:*]] sort of; in Mahler's lifetime, Schubert was only seen as having written eight symphonies, as the symphony now known as No.7 only exists in sketch form[[/labelnote]], Anton Bruckner[[labelnote:*]] if one ignores two early symphonies, now known as No.00 and No.0[[/labelnote]], and Creator/AntoninDvorak[[labelnote:*]] except that the symphonies now known as Nos.1-4 were not published until after Mahler (and, more importantly, Dvorak himself) had died[[/labelnote]], and as later happened to Ralph Vaughan Williams. Mahler tried to subvert the Curse by not numbering ''Das Lied von der Erde'' (''The Song of the Earth''). [[SelfFulfillingProphecy This would have been his ninth symphony]][[labelnote:*]] although the use of the term "symphony" to refer to the work is somewhat contentious[[/labelnote]], making the Ninth his actual 10th. It seems the Curse of the Ninth only goes after numbered symphonies...

Fans of Music/TomLehrer will recognize him as the first husband of Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel.

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