Gustav Mahler loved nature. It gave him inspiration; it connected him to the essential aspects of being alive; he even referred to himself as the “Singer of Nature”. At the same time, he required absolute silence to develop the creative thoughts that led to his compositions. How, then, could he immerse himself in a natural setting without being distracted by all its sounds?


The solution occurred to him in the summer of 1893, while spending an idyllic vacation while composing at Steinbach am Attersee: build a small structure, a composing hut, surrounded by the fields and lake he so adored. Here he could witness the natural world around him and literally close the door to any audible distractions. The idea was a complete success. The Steinbach composing hut was ready for use in 1894, and the following three summers saw the completion of the Second Symphony, the composition of the entire Third Symphony, and numerous songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.


When a disagreement with the landlord ousted Mahler from his haven in 1896, he was left without a refuge for the next four years, trying various locations for productive work with little success. Mahler eventually decided to build a summer home of his own on the banks of Lake Wörthersee in Carinthia. The construction planning included, of course, a composing hut, this time to be located in the woods behind the house overlooking the lake, this time far more spacious than the tiny space in Steinbach. Mahler immediately set to work there in 1901, even before the villa was completed. In the following seven summers, Symphonies 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, as well as all of the Rückert settings, saw their completion here, proving how fruitful this creative space had become for his work.


Tragedy struck the Mahler family in the summer of 1907. While they were vacationing at Wörthersee, the eldest daughter, Maria, died of scarlet fever and diphtheria. The grief was too much to bear, and the family fled their summer house for Schluderbach in the South Tyrolian Puster Valley. Mahler knew the area well from regular visits starting in 1897. The following summer, the family took lodgings at the Trenkerhof in Toblach, and soon, arrangements were made for a nearby composing hut. During the summers of 1908-1910, after returning from his conducting obligations in New York, Mahler sought refuge in this creative haven, where he composed Das Lied von der Erde, the Ninth Symphony, and the incomplete Tenth.

Today all three composing huts are preserved and open to the public. What is more, they each host an annual summer festival celebrating Gustav Mahler, his time, his life, and his music.

They provide a unique opportunity to experience these historic buildings and the stunningly beautiful settings that so inspired the great composer.

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