CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE (1860-79)
GUSTAV MAHLER'S life and achievement were an unceasing tug-of- war between the duties of one of Europe's most glamorous conductors and the increasing demands of a creative genius. This tragic dualism, which caused him lifelong suffering, and may have hastened his death, was conditioned by the peculiar circumstances of his birth.
Mahler was born into a family of poor Moravian Jews in the tottering Austrian Empire of Francis Joseph I. Jews settled in Bohemia and Moravia have played a remarkable part in the often dissonant concert of nations consisting of the many races living under Francis Joseph's rule. This is amply proved by men of international renown such as Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern psycho-analysis, Guido Adler, one of the principal figures in modern musicology, and Franz Kafka. the great novelist, all of whom hailed from that part of Austria. Although most of these Jews originally came from the easternmost recesses of the Austrian Empire, the provinces of Galicia and of Bukovina which to-day belong partly to Poland and partly to Russia and from time immemorial merged with Slavonic races such as Russians, Letts, Poles, Czechs and Slovaks, yet they retained a curious attachment to German culture and language, an attachment reflected by their idiomatic brogue of Yiddish and further emphasized by the significant fact that, in Bohemia and Moravia, they often acted as the main 'carriers' of German culture. Especially was this the case in German national 'islands' such as Iglau (Jihlava), the town in which Mahler spent most of his early years. Tolerated by their Slavonic neighbours, whose language Moravian Jews usually mastered, but scorned by the officially favoured minority of resident Germans, they had to live in conditions of constant insecurity, expecting at any time to be submitted to excesses of racial prejudices from