by Emil Orlik
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), second of fourteen children, approached his first piano at the age of four. He gave his first public performance at 10.
Gustav was 14 when he wrote his first original composition. It was dedicated to his younger brother, Ernst, who died after prolonged illness.
Mahler was, by some accounts, very high-maintenance. One of his girlfriends said living with him was “like being on a boat that is ceaselessly rocked to and fro by the waves.” He had a bit of a reputation as a womanizer, also.
Mahler’s conducting style was, you might say, a tad too lively, and he spelled authority with a capital A and an iron fist. Once, when he worked at the Vienna Court Opera, even the stage hands turned on him. The Vienna Philharmonic, where he succeeded Hans Richter as conductor, was none too pleased with his methods. They compared him to a lion tamer.
One thing he was not: a likeable person. Yet he achieved results. Would he have been more successful if he were easygoing, mellow, accepting? Yes, but he wouldn’t be Mahler.
So, how do the thoughts of a late-Romantic composer apply to your writing?