Found: The last known photo of Gustav Mahler

Found: The last known photo of Gustav Mahler


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2020

Henry-Louis de La Grange’s Médiathèque Musicale Mahler has circulated a long-rumoured photograph of Gustav Mahler being stretchered off a train on his final arrival in Vienna on May 12, 1911.

The pap shot was published in the Austrian newspaper Das Interessante Blatt on May 18, the day Mahler died.

No Mahler expert of my long acquaintance had ever seen this picture.


  • Francine K Grattan says:

    This is incredible! Glad to have been able to find the original newspaper page to see the publication context in full! Thank you for the information.

  • Rob says:

    WOW this is mindblowing. Mahler back on home turf. I’m sure there are more unseen photographs out there of Mahler in last days.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    In his official photos Mahler looks very striking, but casual photos never do justice to his genius. At the moment, I am reading the book about Alma Mahler by Oliver Hilmes with my very limited German. The overall impression is that he was a very hopeless husband until, less than ideal wife Alma, started having an affair with Walter Gropius.

  • Dennis says:

    If it was published in a newspaper and wasn’t just a private photo someone happened to snap that day, how had it eluded so many Mahler “experts” for so long?

  • Joe says:

    Very cool!

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Here is a link to the entire page, from the Austrian National Library’s digitized archive:

    There is a report about Mahler in a separate page, focusing on his health and trip back to Vienna:

    It took me a couple minutes to trace it: first I looked up the publication in Wikipedia, then I followed a link to the library’s collection, then I narrowed down to the date.

    What is so rare about it? I can hardly believe that Mahler researchers wouldn’t have checked the Austrian National Library’s newspaper and magazine collections for articles on Mahler around June 1911. Even before digital days, it was all available on paper.

    • Glen Wilson says:

      Thank you Mr. Linardos. Interesting example of Austrian racism on the second page you cite (the soap ad).

    • Vincent Mouret says:

      It is to to find when you know where to search. I shared the picture with many Mahler scholars. They all honestly said they never saw the picture before.

    • Vincent Mouret says:

      It is easy to find when you know where to search. I shared the picture with many Mahler scholars. They all honestly said they never saw the picture before.

    • Dave says:

      You might want to check that second link you posted. In the right upper corner is a cartoon that simply looks about as racist as you can get (two black boys).

  • Peter San Diego says:

    What is a “pap shot”? I’m baffled.

  • Rich C. says:

    I find it hard to believe that Gus and Alma never had a wedding photo taken.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    The swaddled figure in the photo is so distant and lacking in so much detail that it could be anyone, although it IS very interesting to see the photo of Mahler’s last return to Vienna.
    It’s no wonder that it hasn’t become a part of the usual Mahler iconography.

  • Sir John says:

    What a fascinating article! Sadly Mahler’s passing was then reported in the following edition:

    and also here:

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Personally, I’d like to see more photos of Mahler actually enjoying life. I receive little satisfaction from a photo of him being taken off of a train on a stretcher.

  • simon says:

    This appeared in a newspaper supplement – what is shown is a photo of a shrouded body being carried from the train, with an inset of another photo showing GM. The only thing connecting the two is the text underneath and all we have to rely on is journalistic ‘truth’. The question remains: is this report to be believed?

  • John Soutter says:

    A non-story.

    Pure fetishism.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    “Gus Mahler’s Sad, Last Days!”

    “Star Conductor Comes Home to Die, Reconciles With Straying Wife In Final Hours.”

    (If The Daily Mail were covering it in 1911).

  • fflambeau says:

    Not newsworthy then (except to a provincial putz) and certainly not now.