->''"I am thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, and as a Jew throughout the world. 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 [[TrueArtIsAngsty people did not understand his angst]], and his works [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible 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 [[EarnYourHappyEnding work their way]] to a 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.

[[AuthorExistenceFailure 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 either while working on or after completing his/her ninth symphony, as had happened to Music/LudwigVanBeethoven, Music/FranzSchubert[[note]] 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[[/note]], Anton Bruckner[[note]] if one ignores two early symphonies, now known as No.00 and No.0[[/note]], and Music/AntoninDvorak[[note]] except that the symphonies now known as Nos.1-4 were not published until after Mahler (and, more importantly, Dvořák himself) had died, and were not counted toward the numbering of his symphonies until the 1950s[[/note]], and as later happened to Alexander Glazunov and 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]][[note]] although the use of the term "symphony" to refer to the work is somewhat contentious[[/note]], 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.

!! Examples of tropes used by Mahler in his work.
* {{Angst}}: He is one of the most famous composers who expressed this feeling in his music.
* BiggerIsBetter: His symphonies became gradually larger in scale, peaking in the "Symphony of a Thousand", his 8th.
* BoleroEffect: First Symphony "The Titan" has this in its third movement on the tune of "Frère Jacques".
* {{Bookworm}}: Famously read all the time. He actually started the day with Goethe instead of newspapers.
* BreakTheBadass: The whole point of the fourth movement of the ''Tragic'' is to send the [[WorldOfHam ridiculously large orchestra]] through a series of twists of fate represented by hammer strokes until it gives up after [[RuleOfThree the third one]].
* BunnyEarsLawyer
* CallBack: Some material from earlier symphonies can be heard in later ones, for example a horn call in the fifth returning in the sixth.
* CradleOfLoneliness: "Das Lied von der Erde" ("Song of Earth") has a movement called "Der Einsame im Herbst" ("The Lonely One in Autumn").
* DeadpanSnarker:
** Mahler didn't think much of his critics.
--->'''Critic''': I trust you weren't offended by my negative critique of your recent symphony.\\
'''Mahler''': You just don't understand my music.\\
'''Critic''': You weren't of the same opinion when I praised your previous work.\\
'''Mahler''': You are quite mistaken. [[TakeThatCritics You didn't understand me when you praised me, either.]]
** When challenged to a duel, he declined with the words: "I do not believe in the healing powers of dueling."
* DeathOfAChild: The theme of "Kindertotenlieder" (meaning "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Songs on the Death of Children]].") Each song explores a different aspect of [[TearJerker the grief that follows losing a child]].
* DownerEnding:
** The 6th symphony, [[FanNickname so-called]] ''Tragic'', ends with a massive dissonant tutti burst just to be silenced by a lonely pianissimo, representing the loss of hope.
** His 9th symphony simply fades out, interpreted as a farewell from the composer.
* DramaticTimpani:
** Used very quietly in the third movement of his 1st Symphony (emphasizing the motif of the descending fourth interval that ties the four movements together) and to accompany the fanfares in the fourth movement.
** In the 2nd, after the soft pizzicato chords at the end of the second movement, the audience is jolted back to attention by a sudden BA-DUM! from the timpani to introduce the third movement.
** [[SubvertedTrope Played very slowly]] at the end of the 3rd Symphony.
** Also in the 6th, in the first movement just before A major-minor chord. The same rhythm comes back over the final chord.
* DrunkenSong: His "Das Lied von der Erde" ("Song of Earth") has a drinking song, but it's one for "Earth's Misery": "Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde." Another one is called "Der Trunkene im Frühling" ("The Drunken Man in Spring").
* EscapedFromHell:
** Mahler's First Symphony details the life of a hero, including his funeral in the third movement. The final movement is him fighting his way out of Hell to ascend to Heaven.
** The 2nd symphony opens once again with the funeral rites of the hero from the previous symphony, while the finale is a depiction of the Last Judgement. The first ten minutes depict the angelic summons (Mahler subtitled the initial offstage horn call "a voice calling in the wilderness"), then a thundering drum roll represents the ground tearing wide open as the dead rise from their graves and march off to be judged. The triumphant final minutes suggest that even the condemned souls have been redeemed and restored by ThePowerOfLove.
* EverythingIsAnInstrument: The infamous ''Mahlerhammer'' in the 6th symphony is a large wooden hammer slammed against a wooden platform or box, used as a percussive instrument. Also needs [[Creator/ChristopherWalken more cowbell]] in the finale.
* {{Expy}}: Gustav von Aschenbach of ''Literature/DeathInVenice'' is closely modeled after Mahler. Even more so in the FilmOfTheBook where Aschenbach is a conductor and composer instead of a writer. Movie-Aschenbach [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed is Mahler with a moustache]], really. Even Aschenbach's wife looks exactly like Alma. The soundtrack to said film also consists of Mahler.
* FoolishSiblingResponsibleSibling: Mahler had a sister, Justine. Mahler's wife Alma hated her and [[AnnoyingYoungerSibling accused her of being exploitative of her brother's naivete]].
* FriendlyRivalry: With [[Music/AlsoSprachZarathustra Richard Strauss]]. Mahler said [[NotSoDifferent they were digging towards the same summit from different sides of a mountain]].
* GermanicDepressives: His music is very dark, moody and brooding. One of his oldest works was "Das Klagende Lied" ("The Song of Lament") and "Kindertotenlieder" ("Songs on the Death of Children") is also not exactly the happiest of subjects. "Das Lied von der Erde" also deals with tragic themes. And, of course, his famous "6th Symphony" is referred to as "Tragische" ("Tragic").
* IllBoy: Like his siblings, he inherited a weak heart from his mother.
* InfantImmortality: Subverted by "Kindertotenlieder" ("Songs on the Death of Children"), a song cycle based on a series of poems by Friedrich Rückert.
* KavorkaMan: Described as this by Alma Mahler-Werfel. Also had the (unjust) reputation of being TheCasanova.
* LastNoteNightmare: The 6th ends with [[{{Sting}} a massive]] [[ScareChord dissonant tutti]].
* TheMentor: To Music/ArnoldSchoenberg and like-minded. He actually was friends with Schoenberg. But since Mahler had shades of DrillSergeantNasty, [[RageAgainstTheMentor they had hot-headed arguments]]. According to Alma, Mahler was GenreSavvy enough to know that Schoenberg [[TakeUpMySword will eventually built on Mahler's innovations and herald a new age of classical music]]. During Schoenberg's "Skandalkonzerte" he always defended his friend. Keep in mind, [[BadassTeacher these arguments sometimes ended in fistfights of pro and contra-Schoenberg]].
* MoodSwinger: He himself was one, and his symphonies reflect that.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: He often incorporated popular melodies and ironic elements into his music, such as "Frère Jacques" into his first symphony.
* ThePerfectionist: Mahler was meticulous in marking the scores of his symphonies with precise performance instructions for both the musicians and the conductor; he was adamant that the performance should reflect the vision in his mind to the letter.
* ThePowerOfLove: Strong believer of this, and considered God and Love to be one and the same. With the exception of No.4 (which ends serenely), No.6 (which ends brutally), ''Das Lied von der Erde'' (which ends bleakly), and No.9 (which simply fades away), his symphonies end in a massive blaze of glory in the finale, representing the victory of love over suffering.
* ReclusiveArtist: Preferred composing when in near-total social isolation in a cabin.
* ScareChord: After the third movement of his 1st Symphony quietly fades out, the fourth movement starts with a rapid ''Crash-Screech-'''''BOOM!''' to jolt the audience out of their seats and make them pay attention again, while the final movement of the 2nd Symphony starts with a quick figure in the low strings and then a shrill, dissonant chord Mahler called the ''Ruf des Schmerzes'' ("Scream of Anguish"). [[EarnYourHappyEnding Both symphonies get better, though.]]
* ShoutOut: Mahler's "Adagietto" from his Fifth Symphony was famously used in ''Film/DeathInVenice''.
* TraumaCongaLine: The third hammer stroke in his 6th symphony, [[DespairEventHorizon after which everything dies down]]... [[LastNoteNightmare until one last desperate tutti stroke ends it]].
* WorldOfHam: The 8th symphony with ''three'' choirs, multiple soloists, a church organ and a double orchestra.
* YourCheatingHeart: Mahler suffered a CreatorBreakdown complete with HeroicBSOD when [[FemmeFatale Alma Mahler]] cheated on him with Walter Gropius.