Discovery of talents Gustav Mahler

Joseph Steiner

Joseph Steiner (1857-1913), a classmate from Habry.


Melion was a smoker of Three Kings tobacco and the private coach of the young Gustav Mahler in Jihlava, who prepared him for his school examinations. This coaching was all the more necessary since the young Mahler, a student at the Vienna Conservatoire since 1875, was registered at the grammar school in Jihlava from 1875 to 1877 only as an external student.

Melion seems to have been in close contact with Gustav even earlier, for the decisive turn in his life which took him to the Conservatoire was brought about by a man he came to know through Melion. Among Melion’s private pupils was a young man called Schwarz whose father was the administrative manager of the Morawan estates near Caslau.

Gustav Schwarz

The administrator of the Moravany Estate, trained amateur musician. He recognized Gustav Mahler’s musical genius on the piano and persuaded Gustav’s father (Bernard Mahler (1827-1889) to allow his son to study at the Conservatory of ViennaJulius Epstein (1832-1926).

See Manor house.

Gustav Schwarz was an amiable music-lover who kept an open house and in the interests of his son’s advancement invited the eminent Herr Melion to Moravany in the summer holidays of 1875. The latter called Schwarz’s attention to the fact that there was an excellent pianist amongst his pupils – the young Gustav Mahler from Jihlava. Schwarz then extended his invitation to the young Mahler, who took himself to Morawan with Melion in the summer of 1875.

The first meeting between the cordial host and the young musician took an odd turn: Mahler played a piece of pure virtuoso music for Schwarz, a fantasia by Thalberg. According to reliable reports, Schwarz did not agree with the way the young man interpreted this decidedly uninteresting piece. Then the music student began to play his own compositions, and Schwarz, as reported by the unknown chronicler, ‘listened with growing astonishment and interest, and soon recognized that he had before him the first glimpse of outstanding talent.

Impressed by what he had heard, Schwarz then wrote an enthusiastic letter to Mahler’s father in Iglau in which he expressed the opinion that such an extraordinary musical talent as Gustav Mahler could never attain full maturity in the confines of a small town. Everything should be done to secure a well-disciplined and sound musical education for him in Vienna. Therefore, wrote Schwarz, he was personally prepared to travel to Vienna with Gustav in order for him to be examined by a person of high repute in musical circles.

Bernhard Mahler (1827-1889)

28-08-1875: Bernhard Mahler responded to the letter as follows:

Dear Sir,
First of all I take the liberty of expressing my most cordial and hearty thanks for your splendid reception of my son, and especially, as I gather from your esteemed letter and from my son Gustav’s reports, for the exceptionally warm sympathy and interest, dear Sir, conferred upon his still-developing musical talent.
My son will have informed you of the plans I have made regarding his further education; however, your view, as I now gather from all this, does not accord with mine. You advise me in your valued letter, and see the necessity of allowing him to complete his further education in Vienna. In order to examine this scheme more closely and in greater detail, I should be inclined to accompany you to Vienna with my Gustav.
I sign myself most respectfully, B. Mahler

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