Gustav Mahler definitely lived by the statement, "Music is life. The rest is just details." Mahler was a composer in the summer and a conductor during the main orchestra season, and he was so obsessed with musical perfection that he earned a reputation as a harsh and terrifying tyrant. In fact, he was a tiny little fellow who tied so much of his vulnerable inner self to his music that he felt completely compelled to draw the best performance out of his players. He was so very attached, in fact, that he feared that elements of his own musicÑ-such as three hammer blows in the 6th Symphony, or the concept of sure death after writing a 9th--would kill him. He tried to steer around these things through editing and creative numbering, but that gesture only further proves how close Mahler was to his own music.
A few key works: Kindertotenleider, Das Lied von der Erde, Symphony No. 6, Symphony No. 9
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