Gustav Mahler was born to Bernard Mahler and Marie Herrmann on July 7, 1860. At the age of three he was already playing simple tunes and folk songs on the accordian. Because of this accomplishment, he was allowed to take piano lessons and he gave his first public concert at the age of ten. By the time he was fifteen, he auditioned and was accepted into the Vienna Conservatory and began his studies in September 1875, studying piano and composition.
After graduation from school, he gave piano lessons to earn a living. Eventually he landed a job at Bad Hall conducting operettas for the patients there. After his work at Bad Hall, he was offered a full-time contract with the Royal Theatre in Kassel. There he became known for his own unique approach to the classics, his interest in stage productions beyond just the music, and his expectation of discipline.
Mahler had continued success with his career conducting in Hamburg and Budapest, but he was gaining a reputation for his irritability and his dictatorial way of leading. In February 1897 he converted to Catholicism because his Jewish background was becoming a hindrance within the community in which he worked.
Mahler married Alma Maria Schindler in Vienna on March 9, 1902. Alma was twenty-one-and-a-half years old and Mahler was forty-two. The couple had two girls. Maria Anna was born on November 3, 1903 and Anna Maria (known as "Guckie") was born on June 15, 1904. Maria Anna died of scarlet fever and diphtheria in 1907. Mahler discovered he had a heart condition in July 1907. He died from cardiac problems on May 18, 1911.
Click below for some pictures of Gustav Mahler and his family with Alma:http://www.flickr.com/photos/74644976@N00/sets/72157594475766585/
Click below for some additional non-scholarly information:http://www.alma-mahler.at/engl/almas_life/mahler.html
Click for a link to additional family photos of the Mahler family:http://www.library.upenn.edu/collections/rbm/photos/mahler/gustavmahler.html
Most of the above information was taken from the following source:
Beaumont, Antony. Gustav Mahler: Letters to His Wife
. Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 1995.