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Born in 1860
Inducted in 2004
Mahler was best known during his own lifetime as one of the leading orchestra and opera conductors of the day, but he has since come to be acknowledged as among the most important post-romantic composers of the late 1800s——remarkable because his compositions are concentrated in two genres: symphony and song. Nine completed numbered symphonies, eight song cycles, and one grand mixture of symphonic dimensions, Das Lied von der Erde, lifted Mahler to his rightful position among the most important post-romantic composers in music history. At age fifteen Mahler studied piano, harmony, and composition at the Vienna Conservatory. Later he added history and philosophy to his studies at Vienna University. His career trajectory began at age twenty when he was hired to conduct summer theater activities at Bad Hall. For the next seventeen years he moved up the ladder until 1897 when he became director of the Vienna Opera, the most prestigious musical position in the Austrian Empire. He worked at the Opera nine months each year, and spent each summer composing some of the most beautiful and powerful symphonies and song cycles in the history of classical music.