Gustav Mahler Festival 2023

Mahler and Spirituality

“I am from God and want to go back to God.” – from Urlicht

Gustav Mahler's relationship to religion was complex. Born in a Jewish family, he soon sought new ways of finding meaning in life by means of philosophy and art. In 1897 he converted to Catholicism, in part attracted to the religion, in part a calculated move to enable his appointment as Director of the Vienna Court Opera. At bottom his faith was never orthodox or dogmatic, yet in his works and in his comments we discover a deeply spiritual artist. Whether the fate of humanity in the "Resurrection" Symphony or the protagonist in the song "Um Mitternacht", whether the pleading soul in "Urlicht" or the call to "Mater gloriosa" in the Eighth Symphony, Mahler repeatedly turns to a higher sphere.


Review of the Gustav Mahler Festival 2023

Reading and Presentation:

7 pm, Christian-Ludwig-Attersee-Saal, Steinbach

Siegfried Lipiner, philosopher and author, was a close friend of Gustav Mahler, whose ideas about spirituality and meaning of life made a deep impression on the composer. In this pre-festival program we present the thinker and two of his main works. Presented by Alexander Odefey.


8:30 pm, Christian-Ludwig-Attersee-Saal, Steinbach

Director Jason Starr will be on hand to introduce this work on Mahler's Second Symphony, filmed in 2008 among other places in Steinbach am Attersee. Presentation in English; film in English with German subtitles. Duration: 88 minutes.

Festive Opening

5 pm, by the Composing Hut

with greetings from guests of honor and musical performances on the shore of the lake in Seefeld at Hotel Föttinger. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held in the festive hall of the Hotel Föttinger. Followed by the opening of the special exhibition inside the hut dedicated to this year's topic: "Gustav Mahler and Spirituality" curated by Dr. Alexander Odefey.

Song and Text

7 pm, Festsaal, Gasthof Föttinger

Texts by and about Gustav Mahler on his philosophy of life with songs for voice and piano. 

Reading: Roman Blumenschein; Soprano: Susan Zarrabi; Piano: Lizaveta Bormotova.

Gustav Mahler (1860–1911): "Um Mitternacht“ / "Das irdische Leben“ / "Urlicht“ / "Es sungen drei Engel“ / "Liebst du um Schönheit“ / "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen“

Alma Mahler (1879–1964): "Die stille Stadt“

Podium Discussion

10:00 am, Christian-Ludwig-Attersee-Saal

Moderator: Paul Lohberger; with, among others, Renata Schmidtkunz, Thomas Hampson, Morten Solvik

Not materialistic, not positivistic, and free from dogmatic religion: this is how one could describe Mahler's concept of spirituality. We experience this in and from his works in many ways. At Attersee he set a text by Nietzsche, illuminated mortality from a philosophical perspective and strove toward resurrection, all embedded in an enormous interconnectedness of creativity and the world. Gustav Mahler was without a doubt deeply influenced by his biography. Nevertheless, as with all great art, his treatment of existential questions is not tied to his time and remains relevant today - a topic that demands a closer treatment, and precisely that will provide the substance for our discussion.

Orchestral Concert


7:00 pm, Seeschloss Kammer

An unforgettable evening with the Orchester Wiener Akademie and Thomas Hampson (Baritone and Narrator) set in the unique ambience of the castle on the lake at Kammer am Attersee. In cooperation with "Festival Kirchklang".

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–1847):

"Ein Sommernachtstraum“ by Shakespeare. Stage Music, Op. 61

Franz Liszt (1811–1886):

Two Episodes from Lenau's "Faust“, S. 110

No. 1 Der nächtliche Zug

No. 2 Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke (Mephisto-Walzer)

Gustav Mahler (1860–1911):

Second "Night Music" from  Symphony No. 7 (fourth movement)

Three Orchestral Songs


"Um Mitternacht“


Thomas Hampson, Baritone & Narrator

Orchester Wiener Akademie

Martin Haselböck, Conductor

Experiencing Nature

Meeting at 10:00 am in front of the church in Steinbach

„Von der Lautmahlerei der weichen Töne im Grünen Tann“

Of nature and its being - spirituality and the forest, two who found one another. Bird calls, rustling leaves, a journey of discovery to the sounds and to the souls of plants in the woods.

Of life in deadwood and of the continuing transformation of becoming, being, and passing.

Of healing forest aromas, of stillness, fundamental forces, and the breathing of the trees.

(Waterproof shoes and clothing required.)

Preceded by musical attunement to experiencing nature in St. Andreas Church in Steinbach

Event Dinner


7:00 pm, Naturarena Attersee (Gustav-Mahler-Saal if inclement weather)

Enjoy an unforgettable evening meal outdoors and experience unpublished, even unheard of details about the composer and his relationship to love as a transcendental experience. Four-course dinner with drinks, theater, and music.

Directed by Beate Thalberg – with Robert Ritter (Gustav Mahler), Barbara Gassner (Natalie Bauer-Lechner), Katharina Holoubek (Alma Mahler), Flaca Goranci (Mezzo Soprano), Catalina Butcaru (Piano), Violin 1: Lucia Hall, Violin 2: Kinga Vass, Viola: Marta Potulska, Cello: Teodora Miteva

Matinee Concert


11:00 am - Gustav Mahler Saal, Seefeld

Solistinnen des 1. Frauen-Kammerorchester von Österreich

with works by F. Schubert, J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven and Gustav Mahler.


Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)

Das irdische Leben

Das himmlische Leben


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)

Chorale Prelude "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ“, BWV 639

Arrangement for piano by F. Busoni

Arvo Pärt (*1935)

Silhouan´s Song 

Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

"Ellens Gesang III“, D. 839, Op. 52 Nr. 6 "Ave Maria“


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

"Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart“

("Sacred Song of Thanksgiving of a Convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian Mode")

String Quartet, Op. 132, third movement, Molto Adagio


Soloists of the 1. Frauen-Kammerorchester von Österreich

Piano: Catalina Butcaru

Mezzo Soprano: Flaka Goranci

Violin 1: Lucia Hall

Violin 2: Kinga Vass

Viola: Marta Potulska

Cello: Teodora Miteva

Preliminary program. Subject to change.

Gustav Mahler and the Village of Steinbach am Attersee

Gustav Mahler loved vacationing at Lake Attersee and resided in the summer months from 1893 to 1896 at the Gasthof zum Höllengebirge in the village of Steinbach am Attersee.


The stunning area worked wonders on Mahler's creativity: over the course of four summers he completed the Second Symphony, a half dozen songs, and the entire Third Symphony in his specially built composing hut.

Gustav Mahler Festival Steinbach

The Gustav Mahler Festival in Steinbach am Attersee is a multi-day celebration that usually takes place around the composer's birthday on July 7th.


Musical gems as well as cultural and historical insights into the area around this historic place are presented every year.

 The program deliberately offers enough time for everyone involved to exchange ideas and enjoy the unique natural setting in order to be able to celebrate Mahler's inspiration in all its facets.

Visiting Gustav Mahler's composing hut

A place with a magical atmosphere

Important works by Gustav Mahler were composed in this small hut on the lake shore of Hotel Föttinger. In 1985, the composing hut was renovated true to its original form by the International Gustav Mahler Society and the Föttinger family, and in 2016 the permanent exhibition was renewed with scholarly and creative support from the International Gustav Mahler Society. Inside you will also find the annual special exhibit of the Steinbach Gustav Mahler Festival. More about the composing hut...

The Trilogy of Gustav Mahler Composing Huts



9th Symphony

10th Symphony

The Song of the Earth



Completion of 4th, 5th-8th Symphony

Rückert Songs

Songs on the Death of Children



Completion of 2nd Symphony

3rd Symphony

Numerous Wunderhorn Songs

Your Festival Visit

Thank you for your visit in 2022!

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