"My time will come," said Gustav Mahler, who died at the too-young age of 50, a century ago today. At the time he was seen as a brash, eccentric conductor who wrote immense and turgid symphonies during his spare time. An apprentice Bruckner, no doubt soon forgotten, sniffed the snobs. Fortunately, he was right about his posthumous future. If anything, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, as it tends to do, reflected, for instance, in the title of an articlewritten by Tim Smith, music critic of the Baltimore Sun: "How Gustav Mahler Saved My Life."
But I'm almost there, too. I first heard Mahler's music on a hoarse and scratchy LP, a Vienna Phil recording of The Song of the Earth, with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf singing. I was overwhelmed. Later, I heard the Fourth Symphony. I was doubly overwhelmed, and have never tired of Mahler's music since. Indeed, every time I hear it I'm thankful the world contains such wonders. RIP, Gustav.