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Gustav Mahler Hardcover – August 9, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 766 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Tra edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300134444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300134445
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 2.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Sympathetic . . . evocative . . . original and refreshingly opinionated.”—John Adams, New York Times Book Review
(John Adams New York Times Book Review)

“Superb...A passionate book in which Gustav Mahler emerges as a true genius.”—Ralph Collier, Quarter Notes
(Ralph Collier Quarter Notes)

"Much has been written in recent years about this supremely gifted, high-strung composer/conductor, but nothing better than Fischer's intelligent and sympathetic biography."—Reporter-Times

"Mahlerians will welcome this important work for its synthesis of new and old data within a bold, passionately argued study . . . [Fischer's] biography may be the most rewarding way to appreciate Mahler and his resonant art."—Jeffery S. McMillan, Opera News (Jeffery S. McMillan Opera News)

About the Author

Jens Malte Fischer is professor of the history of theater at the University of Munich. Stewart Spencer is an acclaimed translator whose work includes biographies of Richard Wagner, Cosima Wagner, and W.A. Mozart, all published by Yale University Press.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If I had to recommend one good and interesting biography for this year, I would choose this wonderful and outstanding book. In spite of its length, which runs to more than 700 pages, it contains so much information and new things about Mahler that you will not be able to put it down. In addition, I must also at this moment praise the translation of this book into English.
Mahler experts, musicians and fans are familiar with Henry Louis La Grange magnum opus, which was published in English and is more than 4500 pages long. To this day, La Grange's work is considered the most authoritative work on Mahler, thus one could easily ask: why another book on him?
The answer is simple: Fischer's book does include many new insights and a lot of details which do not appear in La Grange's work. In addition, Fischer's book is not only a biography but also a deep and broad analysis of most of Mahler's compositions. Some chapters are not easy to read and need a very close reading in order to better understand them. One can really feel that the author has German blood running in his veins, because he is extremely careful not only with facts ot their incorporation into a bigger picture, but also is cautious and careful with his interpretations and documentation.
The story of Gustav Mahler is known and only some lines about it would suffice here. Mahler was born in June 1860.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Paul Fishbein on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not Just another Mahler Biography
Paul Fishbein
Not long ago, I thoroughly disagreed with Paul Gelman about his review of Norman Lebrecht's recent book on Gustav Mahler. I found humor, entertainment, and profound understanding in this subjective study of Mahler's pertinence for us a century after his untimely death.
However, I can only agree completely with Mr. Gelman's eloquent review of Jens Malte Fischer's one volume massive biography of Mahler. I had planned to write a detailed essay about this marvelous book, but after reading Gelman, I have little to add--other than to add my voice in agreement that this is a work well worth reading and that there is much to be gleaned from devoting precious time in closely studying what he has created. This is a biography that stands above almost all of the many that have been published on Mahler, as it not only provides a broad perspective about his life, but with great intelligence and sensitivity, paints a picture of turn of the century Vienna and its culture. I finished this book feeling that I finally had gotten to "know" Mahler the man and his works.
After the 4 volume biography of Mahler by Henry Louis de La Grange, I felt that any one volume effort would pale in contrast. But such is not the case with Fischer's tome. He does not give a day by day account of his subject's life, with each and every concert or performance review, but he does provide us with the pertinent articles; and one comes away feeling that we have lived through his experiences, his crises and triumphs.
What de La Grange is to Mahler, Ernest Newman, with his 4 volume biography, was to Richard Wagner. There was a time when I felt that no single volume could match that wonderful study on the controversial composer's life.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By B. Guerrero on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Let's start with the positives, as this is clearly the most comprehensive biography outside of Henri de la Grange's multi-volume set - some volumes of which are currently out-of-print in English (rumor has it that de la Grange is revising bits of it). I won't go into much detail here, as the reviewer who gave this book five stars has done an excellent job of covering the details already. Thus, this new Fischer bio. is now the best, most practical one outside of chasing down the various De la Grange volumes (which WILL cost you!). All that said, I do have some reservations.

First off, Fischer IS quite good at covering Mahler's early years, as well as Mahler's subsequent rise to the top of the conducting world in Germany and Austria (with stops in Prague and Budapest along the way). But Fischer more or less dismisses Mahler's late New York period - the last three conducting seasons of his life. In contrast to that, a brief look through another recent Mahler book, "Mahler's Concerts" by Knud Martner (published by the Kaplan Foundation), will quickly confirm that Mahler was anything but washed-up during his N.Y. years. That statement is true in spite of the political hardships and impediments placed by Mahler's own health problems. When did Mahler not have political hardships and issues with his health? Granted, it all came to a quick end in New York, but it was bound to end given the extent of the bacterial infection in his blood stream. Regardless, Mahler still had the time and energy to give the American premiere of many American, English and French works such as Debussy's "Iberia", the MacDowell piano concerto, the second piano concerto of Martucci, as well as Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto (which left Rachmaninoff stunned in the wake of Mahler's slavish efforts to get things right).
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