A Mahler has died, aged 89

A Mahler has died, aged 89


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2018

Zdenek Mahler, who has died in Prague aged 89, was a multifarious contributor to Czech culture as an author, screenwriter and musicologist.

His book on Gustav Mahler and his homeland appeared in 2009.

He claimed to be a distant relative of the composer.


  • Rich C. says:

    Norman, can you give us any updates on any of the real Mahler descendants? Have both GM’s grand-daughters (Anna’s children) passed? Are any of the great-grandchildren doing anything of note? Thanks.

    • Suzanne says:

      Marina Mahler is Gustav Mahler’s granddaughter – born 1943 – and the founder / president of the Mahler Foundation.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        There were two grand-daughters of Gustav Mahler. Marina Mahler was born in 1943. Her father was a fairly famous conductor, Anatole Fistoulari (greatly known for ballets). The other grand-daughter, Alma Zsolnay, died in 2010, as she was born 13 years earlier.

        Online info shows that Alma Zsolnay was born in Vienna and is buried in Vienna. I’m curious to know if she stayed in Austria during the Third Reich. Mahler’s daughter, Anna Justina Mahler (the sculptress) would have been half Jewish, nicht wahr? Assuming that Alma Zsolnay’s father wasn’t a Jewish man (Paul von Zsolnay), she still would have been 25% Jewish, would she not? Marina was born in London, as Fistoulari was her second husband.

        According to online info that’s easy to find, Alma Zsolnay was, quote, “community president for a memorial of Gustav Mahler in the City of Jihlava” (Mahler’s birth-town in Morovia). I want to know more about her. I can’t imagine that she actually stayed in Austria during those disastrous years.

        • Barry Guerrero says:

          I should also mention that Henry Mahler – third cousin, once removed to Gustav Mahler – passed away in 2015 (born 1933). He lived in Walnut Creek, California. He came out to video tape rehearsals and a performance of Mahler 6 that I was involved in, with the Redwood Symphony on the San Francisco Peninsula. This was at a time when it was still ‘ground breaking’ for a community orchestra (non paid) to attempt such a large and heavy Mahler symphony. I still have a copy of the video someplace. I’ve been in four such performances – both as a tuba player (tubist) and percussionist. Good times.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      I don’t know if we’re permitted to provide links to other sites, but here’s a link to Marina Mahler’s, “Mahler Foundation”.


  • Keith Blair Powell says:

    (Not about a Mahler)


    Did Levine’s contract have a clause about naughty behavior?

    Strictly speaking as a layman, I doubt it.

    Go, Jimmy, go.

    Keith Blair Powell

  • Rob says:

    Never mind these people who claimed to have been related. Just go to Maiernigg, tread in the footsteps of the man, walk in the forest near the hut. He wrote that area all into the middle symphonies. Listen to the opening of the 7th, the whole of the 8th. Its all there in Maiernigg. Every year I go and its as if Mahler is walking in the vicinity.

    • Rob says:

      Also rent a boat and journey out onto the Wörthersee. You will see exactly what Mahler saw, very little has changed.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        I’d be more than happy to go if you’ll pay!

        • Barry Guerrero says:

          “Marina was born in London, as Fistoulari was her second husband”

          I said that wrong: Marina was born in London, as Fistoulari was her mother’s second husband (Anna Mahler). Fistoulari did most of his conducting work in London. Eventually Anna Mahler moved to Los Angeles and taught sculpturing at U.C.L.A. (I believe that she had divorced Fistoulari by that point), while Alma Mahler soon moved back to New York for the remainder of her life.

          It’s Alma Zsolnay I want know more about. She must have left Austria during those dark years.

          • James says:

            Following the divorce of Paul and Anna Zsolnay, daughter Alma remained with her father.
            In 1938, together with his mother, they left for London and survived the war there. They returned to Vienna in 1946 where he reestablished his publishing house.

          • Barry Guerrero says:

            Thank you! Then I guess granddaughter Alma and granddaughter Marina would have been in London at the same, horrible time.

    • Rich C. says:

      I visited Maiernigg two years ago and was slightly disappointed. The hike up to the composing hut is uphill and not very well maintained with heavy brush. I did see a car up there so there must be a way drive up, though I didn’t know it. The hut is only unlocked a few hours a day for only about three days a week. (I was there during a closed day). His house can only be seen from the front (fenced off) from a busy road where you may have trouble finding a place to park. Rob is right, renting a boat to see the familiar view of the back of the house would be the way to go, though I didn’t do it.

      • Rob says:

        The public path to the hut is not the path Mahler took every morning. He went directly across the road from the entrance of the villa and zig zagged up through the forest. There is a small forest unpaved road for vehicle access for the person that runs the museum. Sometimes there is a local cat that visits near the hut. Also there is a very old outside toilet, no longer in use, architecturally fin de siècle ; it’s quite possible this was the outdoor toilet Mahler used, I’m pretty sure it is.

        • Rich C. says:

          Rob, if I recall, directly across the road from his villa is a really steep hillside, hugging the road. I was wondering at that time how he went from his villa to the hut. Guess I missed the path you mentioned, but it would have been REALLY uphill climb even for a fit person.

          • Rob says:

            Yes, there is geometry of a path that zig zags up. I did it several times. It goes up in even stages. Stopping halfway up, where the villa is still in view, one really is standing where Mahler stood. I even found a long, thick rope made out of wire, set into a large American oak. It would be interesting to think that he used this to pull himself up part of the incline. He only used the hut in the summer months of course, so the forest ground would be mostly dry. Apparently Alma and the two daughters never visited the hut, only the servant with the breakfast, specifically before he arrived. The hut had a thatched roof back then.

      • Franz Waldner says:

        Opening hours at the moment are
        Thu-Sun 10am-1pm (May – 31 October).
        As there is very little visitor interest City of Klagenfurt (owning the Mahler composing hut) had to reduce opening hours dramatically.