II. Buildings Integral to the Former Life and/or Persecution of Jews in Hamburg - Eimsbüttel/Rotherbaum I.
No. 10 Bundesstraße.Former address of the Austrian-Jewish composer Gustav Mahler.
A plaque at the entrance states:
Mahler also lived in Bismarckstraße and in Esplanade during his stay in Hamburg.
The small square almost midway along Colonnaden, to the rear of the Opera House has been named after him, i.e. Gustav-Mahler-Platz.
There is a memorial bust of Mahler in the foyer of the Opera House in Dammtorstraße.
Gustav Mahler (7.07.1860, Kaliste, Bohemia, Austrian Empire - 18.05.1911, Vienna):
Mahler was the son of an Austrian-Jewish small distillery owner living in the Bohemian village of Kaliste (German: Kalischt), in the southwestern corner of the modern Czech Republic; a few months later the family moved to the nearby town of Jihlava (German: Iglau), where Mahler spent his childhood and youth. He was the second of twelve children. He was afflicted from racial tensions from the beginning of his life. As part of a German-speaking Austrian minority, he was an outsider among the indigenous Czech population and, as a Jew, an outsider among that Austrian minority; later in Germany, he was an outsider as both an Austrian from Bohemia and a Jew.
His musical talent revealed itself early and significantly. Around the age of four, fascinated by the military music at a nearby barracks and the folk music sung by the Czech working people, he reproduced both on the accordion and the piano, and began composing pieces of his own. The military and popular styles, together with the sounds of nature, became the main sources of his mature inspiration. At the age of ten he made his debut as a pianist in Jihlava, and at fifteen was so proficient musically that he was accepted as a pupil at the Vienna Conservatory. After winning piano and composition prizes and leaving with a diploma, he supported himself by sporadic teaching while trying to win recognition as a composer.
When he failed to win the Conservatory's Beethoven Prize for Composition with his first significant work, he turned to conducting for a more secure livelihood, reserving composition for the lengthy summer vacations.
The next 17 years saw his ascent to the very top of his chosen profession. From conducting musical farces in Austria, he became music director of the spa orchestra in Thermalbad Hall, and of various provincial opera houses. He found appreciation in Kassel, so much so that jealous colleagues wrote antisemitic articles in the press. There followed important engagements Prague, Leipzig and Budapest. Following the death of his parents in 1889 he was forced to financially support his younger brothers and sisters. It was due to this that in 1891 he accepted, the artistic director of the Hamburg Opera House, Bernhard Pollini's offer to become music director. Pollini had assembled many famous artists but the stage direction was dreadful, the singers being left to decide how to perform on stage. Mahler was repeatedly angry and in conflict with Pollini. He called the Opera House a prison. With the investment of an enormous amount of time he succeeded in raising the orchestra to a high artistic standard. There were times when he hardly left the Opera House. In the 1895/96 season, between September and May, he is recorded as having conducted 148 performances. This "terrible treadmill" lasted six years.
Each of Mahler's three creative periods produced a symphonic trilogy. The three symphonies of this first period were conceived on a programmatic basis, i.e. founded on a nonmusical story or idea, the actual programmes, later discarded, being concerned with establishing some ultimate ground for existence in a world dominated by pain, death, doubt, and dispair.
During his time in Hamburg he composed:
None of these works were premiéred in Hamburg, but in Berlin, Krefeld and Vienna.
He became artistic director of the Vienna Court Opera in 1897, at the age of 37. As a conductor he had won general acclaim, but as a composer, during this first creative period, he immediately encountered the public's lack of comprehension that was to confront him for most of his career.
Borchardt, Georg: Gustav Mahler : "Meine Zeit wird kommen"; Aspekte der Mahler-Rezeption, Doelling und Galitz, Hamburg, 1996.
Schreiber, Wolfgang: Gustav Mahler, rororo Bildmonographie, Rowalt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek, 1994.