What is it About Mahler?

1 day, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Gustav Mahler

What is it about Mahler’s music that attracts such deep devotion amongst his fans? Mahler’s rich and inspiring music has moved the emotions of millions of admirers, and doesn’t have to be difficult to explore. This music course opens up the life and music of Mahler: a composer who formed a bridge between the lush Romanticism of the 19th century and the innovation of the twentieth.

Course Outline

Session 1

  • What do we think of when we think of Mahler?
  • Mahler’s Place in Music History
  • Social and Historical Background: Europe in 1860
  • The Musical Landscape in Mahler’s Time
  • Mahler’s musical style
  • Ruckert Lieder

Session 2

  • The Early Years: Bohemia and Vienna
  • Mahler’s family
  • Conducting work: Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg and Vienna
  • Songs of a Wayfarer
  • Mahler's First Symphony
  • Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”
  • Anna von Mildenburg
  • Symphonies Nos. 3 and 4

Session 3

  • More about Mahler in Vienna
  • Marriage: Alma Schindler
  • Symphony No. 5: The beautiful Adagio
  • Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7
  • Kindertotenlieder

Session 4

  • Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand
  • Mahler in the United States
  • Das Lied von der Erde
  • Symphony No. 9
  • Mahler and Freud
  • Mahler’s final years
  • The incomplete Symphony No. 10
Book cover What is it about Mahler?

Buy the course notes for this class

In hard copy book form, through Lulu Press
$18 + postage
A printed copy of these notes (without the cover) will be provided free at the class.


“Susan used a wide range of resources and had carried out great research to teach us about Mahler but still acknowledged when she didn’t know something. What is obvious that Susan’s knowledge and skills are wide ranging and well developed but she shares them generously and makes classical music, history etc. very accessible. Thank you for a lovely day”

“A very well researched course of a very complex subject and excellently presented in a relaxed manner”

“Excellent/informative. Well prepared, researched and delivered, as usual. Well done, thank you!”

“I think it was a very interesting and informative day. It must have been hard for the lecturer to fit all of her information into such a tight schedule, but she managed it well. I especially liked the electronic aids – both visual and audio.”

“I enjoyed the course very much. I liked the way that we not only learned about Mahler and his music, but also in relation with other things happening at the same time. The choice of slides etc. was well done too. Attending this course makes me want to attend other similar courses”

About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney. Susan is an accredited piano teacher and musicianship teacher, and is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan’s qualifications

Read what people have said about Susan’s other courses

Susan’s other music courses