Musical Lives: The Life of Mahler

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'... a person should remain a 'person' and not be frozen into a legend' (Alma Mahler). As a leading European conductor, and the composer of enormous and controversial symphonies, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) inspired mythologisers in his own lifetime. Some of them were personal friends, concerned to counter biased criticism of him in which German-nationalist, hide-bound traditionalist or anti-semitic elements were often mixed. In this 1997 biography, Peter Franklin re-confronts the myth of Mahler the misunderstood hero and attempts to find the person, or persons, behind the legends: the profoundly sensitive thinker and composer, the dictatorial conductor and husband, the iconoclast, the traditionalist. Mahler's life and work emerge as a battle-ground for some of the major conflicting currents and impulses of his period, in which Empires and ideals struggled with the spectre of their own destruction.