Gustav Mahler was one of the greatest modern composers, generally classified as one of the Late Romantics. He wrote ten symphonies (although he died with the last one unfinished), and numerous other works, and was one of the most respected and popular composers of his era.
Mahler and his wife Alma had moved to New York in 1908, but as his health failed – he suffered from bacterial endocarditis, complicated his defective heart valves, and almost universally fatal before antibiotics – he and Alma returned to Europe. Mahler died in Vienna, and was buried in Grinzing.
Mahler and Schindler first met in November of 1901. Their marriage was considered a bad idea by most of their friends and family, but Alma was already pregnant with their first child by then (she was born in November of the same year) by their wedding day. She was followed by a second child two years later.
Alma and Gustav’s marriage was tumultuous – Mahler was diagnosed with a defective heart in 1907, and the family moved from Vienna to New York City in 1908. Mahler himself died in 1911, but Alma lived on until 1964.
Das Lied von der Erde – “The Song of the Earth” – is a six movement orchestral composition in which each of the six movements is an independent song (but “Six Songs of the Earth” wouldn’t sounded so good). It was composed by Gustav Mahler, an Austrian composer, and largely inspired by his reading of Hans Bethge’s volume of ancient Chinese poetry rendered into German, Die Chinesische Flöte (“The Chinese Flute”).
It is unusual in that it is a combined form, a song cycle and a symphonic work. It is become one of most well known of all Mahler’s works – and is also widely considered his most personal. And it was never performed prior to his death six months earlier.