Did com­poser Gus­tav Mahler know the worst was yet to come in his life?

‘While there’s no proof of this, it’s pos­si­ble he had clair­voy­ant tal­ents.’

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN 360 LIFE - By Michael Barnes mbarnes@statesman.com Mahler

Bi­o­graph­i­cally, we know that com­poser Gus­tav Mahler was per­son­ally at his hap­pi­est and most sat­is­fied from the sum­mer of 1903 through the sum­mer of 1904, the pe­riod dur­ing which he started and com­pleted his Sixth Sym­phony.

Yet this sym­phony — 80 min­utes with­out in­ter­mis­sion and be­ing per­formed by Peter Bay and the Austin Sym­phony for the first time Fri­day and Satur­day — is not a happy-go-lucky piece.

“Per­haps it’s an over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion to say artists cre­ate happy works when th eyare happy and sad works when things are not go­ing well,” Bay says. “But of hisn ine sym­phonies — plus an in­com­plete one — t his is by far the bleak­est.”

Did Mahler sense fate?

The Aus­troGer­man Mahler, whose works bridged the Ro­man­tic and mod­ern eras, was prac­ti­cally a new­ly­wed when he started the sym­phony, hav­ing mar­ried the beau­ti­ful and tal­ented com­poser Alma Schindler in 1902. By the time the Sixth Sym­phony was com­pleted, the cou­ple had two daugh­ters.

Ar­tis­ti­cally, too, he was at the height of his pow­ers as music di­rec­tor of the Vi­enna Opera. Dur­ing sum­mers off, he com­posed. Per­haps un­fairly, he gave lit­tle at­ten­tion dur­ing this time to Alma’s com­po­si­tions.

“His music was be­ing played

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