Gustav Mahler in Steinbach am Attersee
Gustav Mahler arrived in Steinbach am Attersee for the first time in the summer of 1893. His sister, Justine, and close family friend, Natalie Bauer-Lechner, had reserved five rooms in the “Gasthaus zum Höllengebirge” for an extended vacation, far from the bustle of the city that characterised Mahler’s professional life as a conductor and manager. The breathtaking surroundings worked wonders for Mahler’s creativity, inspiring half a dozen songs and most of two enormous symphonies over the course of four summers.
To get even closer to the nature around him and to be able to work in peace, the composer had a hut built in a meadow on the edge of the lake. The builder Johann Lösch complete the structure on grounds of the "Gasthof zum Höllengebirge” in the spring of 1894. The room with three windows and a door, was furnished with only a table, a chair, a stove, and a piano. There for three summers Mahler was able to find the silence and seclusion he needed for completing the Second and Third Symphony.
The constant use of the buiding during the 20th century - it has served as a washhouse, a slaughterhouse and a sanitary facility - prevented its neglect and destruction. In 1985 the composing hut became a Mahler memorial site due to the efforts of the International Gustav Mahler Society. Today the “Komponierhäuschen,” as it is known in German, has become a point of attraction for Mahler lovers all over the world.
Gustav Mahler Festival (7 - 9 July 2016)
In the summer of 2016, Morten Solvik of the International Gustav Mahler Society, in cooperation with Georg Föttinger, the proprietor of the hotel and the hut, presented a new exhibition dedicated to Gustav Mahler in Steinbach. The Governor of Upper Austria, Josef Pühringer, presided over the opening and Thomas Hampson performed songs by Mahler to accompany readings of Mahler’s letters and conversations.
The event continued the next day with a round table discussion on the future of the Mahler Festival in Steinbach. Marina Mahler, the composer’s granddaughter, presented her plans for a Mahler Foundation and its cooperation with the Festival in the coming years; Professor Erich Prödl from Regensburg revealed some architectural plans for a possible performing arts center on the grounds of the Föttinger hotel; and Nicole Eder, mayor of Steinbach, and Franz Kneissl, former mayor, discussed how the community will be involved in future events to promote the legacy of Mahler in the region.
Two films by Jason Starr were on the program, as well: one on the Second Symphony and one on the Third Symphony. Both works were composed largely in Steinbach and, fittingly, there are numerous scenes in both films from this area. What is more, the dramatizations around the funeral in the Second Symphony involved many local residents. The producer and director, Jason Starr, was present and spoke at each of the screenings.
The final day began with a christening of the MS Unterach as the “Mahler Ship.” A competition for young artists was called and the winning design from Birgit Schweiger was applied to the side of the boat in honor of the great composer’s stays at Attersee
The boat offered the Festival guests a free trip to nearby Weissenbach; this location was the starting point for a unique musical experience in the form of a hike that took participants to listening areas in the natural setting where they heard the individual movements of Mahler’s Third Symphony.
Reviews of the Festival in 2016:
I visit a Mahler Festival every year, but the one in Steinbach at such a historic place, with Marina Mahler and Thomas Hampson, was the best Mahler Festival that I have ever experienced.
- Jason Starr, US filmmaker
Congratulations! That was an event that others can only dream about. No one would have expected this of the tiny village of Steinbach. This Festival will go down in the history of Steinbach!
- Festival guest from Steinbach
The musical hike was unique; you absolutely must offer it again, for I would immediately go again with my friends.
- Visitor from Hallein, Salzburg
Congratulations on the Festival, it was fabulous!
- Family from Bremen
It was wonderful experiencing Thomas Hampson from up close.
- Family from Frankenmarkt
Heartfelt congratulations - it was all perfectly organised and beautiful.
- Visitor from Steinbach
Gustav Mahler Festival (6 - 9 July 2017)
“In the next few days I am going to take a little trip to Ischl where I have been meeting Brahms for years.”
The second Gustav Mahler Festival in Steinbach am Attersee takes a look at Mahler's relationship to a major contemporary, Johannes Brahms, whose death 120 years ago will be marked in 2017. Both artists enjoyed the area around Steinbach, Mahler directly in the village and Brahms in nearby Bad Ischl. The younger composer visited the elder several times in the period between 1893 and 1896 and did so, in fact, on his bicycle. Festival participants will be offered the chance to reenact Mahler’s trip to Bad Ischl.
There we will be greeted by Mayor Hannes Heide, introduced to Brahms’s world, and finally hear the composer's last works, some of which he composed in this imperial spa town. Beyond this, the Festival will, of course, offer concerts and presentations, an exhibit, and a birthday party for Gustav!
Gustav Mahler Komponierhäuschen Steinbach:
Over 30 years ago, in 1985, the composing hut of Gustav Mahler at Steinbach am Attersee was given a permanent exhibition. Since then, thousands of people from all over the world have come here in order to experience the beauty and the magical atmosphere of this tiny house. Interest in Mahler has grown tremendously in the intervening years and it was time to renew the original display. This long overdue task was been taken up by the International Gustav Mahler Society in 2016 to ensure a presentation founded on sound scholarship and modern multimedia possibilities.
The topics are divided up as follows:
1. Chronology of Mahler’s life
2. Focus on Attersee and the years 1893 to 1896 as well as friends and relatives
3. Nature, the Folk, and Des Knaben Wunderhorn
4. The “Schnützelputzhäusel” - The Building of the Hut
5. Second Symphony
6. Third Symphony
The materials are presented with titles, short descriptions, quotations, and detailed texts in two languages (German and English, in different fonts) and augmented with photos, facsimiles and audio tracks.
The tour begins already in the hotel and provides an overview of Mahler’s relationship to the area (hotel, town, region) as the user makes their way to the composing hut.
In a later phase indications on the wall displays will point to audio material that can be called up on additional tracks. Listening guides to the Second and Third Symphonies are also planned.
Annual Special Topics
Every year the Steinbach Mahler Festival will be dedicated to a special topic related to the composer and the region. A separate display in the permanent will highlight aspects of the annual program with texts, images and audio tracks.
Access: no entrance fee, key available at the Gasthof Föttinger reception
In the spring of 1894 Gustav Mahler's composing cottage was built by architect Johann Lösch on grounds of the "Gasthof zum Höllengebirge" on the shore of the lake.
The room with three windows and a door was furnished with only a table, a chair, a stove and a piano. For three summers Mahler here found the silence and seclusion he needed for finishing the Second and the Third Symphony and a handful of songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
The constant use of the building during the 20th century - it has served as a washhouse, a slaughterhouse and a sanitary facility - prevented its decay and destruction.
In 1985, at the initiative of the International Gustav Mahler Society, the composing hut became a Mahler memorial.
ARGE Gustav Mahler Festival Steinbach
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