What is it about Mahler?

What is it about Mahler’s music that attracts such deep devotion amongst his fans? Mahler’s rich and inspiring music has moved the emotions of millions of admirers, and doesn’t have to be difficult to explore. This music course opens up the life and music of Mahler: a composer who formed a bridge between the lush Romanticism of the 19th century and the innovation of the twentieth.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.


Session 1

  • What do we think of when we think of Mahler?
  • Mahler’s Place in Music History
  • Social and Historical Background: Europe in 1860
  • The Musical Landscape in Mahler’s Time
  • Mahler’s musical style
  • Ruckert Lieder

Session 2

  • The Early Years: Bohemia and Vienna
  • Mahler’s family
  • Conducting work: Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg and Vienna
  • Songs of a Wayfarer
  • Mahler's First Symphony
  • Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”
  • Anna von Mildenburg
  • Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4

Session 3

  • More about Mahler in Vienna
  • Marriage: Alma Schindler
  • Symphony No. 5: The beautiful Adagio
  • Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7
  • Kindertotenlieder

Session 4

  • Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand
  • Mahler in the United States
  • Das Lied von der Erde
  • Symphony No. 9
  • Mahler and Freud
  • Mahler’s final years
  • The incomplete Symphony No. 10


By the end of this course students should be able to:

  1. Describe elements of Mahler’s musical style.
  2. Describe the main periods of Mahler’s career.
  3. List some of Mahler’s major works, and describe their place in his musical output.

This course has no current classes. Please join the waiting list by clicking .