Marina Mahler is the granddaughter of composer Gustav Mahler and Alma Mahler, and the daughter of sculptor Anna Mahler and conductor Anatole Fistoulari. In 2004 she founded with Ernest Fleischmann and the Bamberger Symphoniker the Mahler Competition for Conducting. The first prize winner of the inaugural competition was Gustavo Dudamel of Simon Bolivar Orchestra and El Sistema in Venezuela which led to a career that has gone from strength to strength on the international concert stage. Subsequent winners have reflected the prestige of this competition – the winner of 2016 competition was rising star Kahchun Wong from Singapore.
In the 1980s Marina Mahler was the spearhead of an open letter to Presidents Bush and Mitterand and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the Independent newspaper along with Bernard Henri Levi and Gilles Hertzog against the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia sitting in the UN signed by over 50 politicians and people in the arts and music. This led to an invitation to be part of the literary Comité de Rédaction of the magazine, La Règle du Jeu, founded by Guy Scarpeta and Bernard Henri Levy. Also in the 1980s Marina Mahler initiated the idea, with Claudio Abbado and Peter Diamond, and worked for 2 years on what later was known as Mahler, Vienna and the 20th century, a festival at Barbican, London with London Symphony Orchestra. She worked for a similar period with the city of Klagenfurt to plan a biennial festival for Mahler with contemporary music commissions until elections bringing to office the far right cancelled the project.
She has long been an ardent champion of young artists in the field of music and visual art and in more recent times has been an active patron of the arts, first setting up the Anna Mahler Association to give residencies in Spoleto, Italy to visual artists practicing in a wide spectrum of disciplines and to encourage young curators, in her mother’s old home. This sparked into life a further entity, Mahler & LeWitt Studios, which increased the scope of the arts residencies, incorporating the neighbouring studio of Sol LeWitt. Marina Mahler has inspired and seeded Mahler Foundation which embraces and supports projects in three fields: innovation and creativity in the arts; awareness of the environment and the introduction of disadvantaged children to music in a holistic way.
Mahler Festival Amsterdam, 2020
Gustav Mahler: the world listens
Mahler Festival Amsterdam, 1995
The Mahler effect has been my parallel world since my childhood, something we have all felt listening to his music and discovering the man.
Why this music ?
It gives relief.
It gives hope.
Yet plumbs the depths of our emotions.
It expresses to us our most extreme feelings and helps us to bear them.
And it is very powerful!
It can reach minds and hearts of all ages, nations and religions.
The huge emotions and love communicated to me throughout my life by countless people in countless lands on hearing this transformative and cathartic music could, if connected, if empowered, truly give strength and sustenance to people young and old in a much wider radius in today’s unsettling and turbulent world.
With Mahler’s radical and far reaching thinking as a spur we look to the young, to those whose minds still reflect their childhood dreams, to take these transformative impulses even further.
Let’s link these emotions to bring about a widespread and powerful complicity, a force for good without boundaries!
Let’s think outside of the box, reaching beyond the habitual and limiting frontiers of geography and culture…including those who have not yet heard a concert, in lives far from cities and concert halls! Who will be listening perhaps through an iPhone, a computer…or just the wind …
I believe that my grandfather
who called himself the Singer of Nature
who said. “ever since my childhood Nature has been for me one and all…”
Who believed the art of living to be the greatest art,
who delved so deeply into the problems and joys of being alive, could be an even wider source of comfort and strength.
And we only need to reach out.
And so we have acted upon this belief
Please be with us…