Gustav Mahler

In this week's Mailbox we reveal the name of the mystery person from our June competition and we also announce the four winners who will receive small gifts from Radio Prague. Listeners quoted: Lola Hamrayeva, R. Francis, Barbara Ziemba, Colin Law, David Eldridge, Helmut Matt, Kristina Fallin.

Gustav Mahler
Welcome to Mailbox. Today we will reveal the name of the mystery person from last month's quiz and also announce the names of the four lucky winners. The man in question was neither Antonin Dvorak nor Bedrich Smetana, as some of you suggested, but rather:

"The name of the composer is Gustav Mahler - the famous composer and conductor, who set new trends and standards in operatic production, and introduced innovations that had a significant influence on the composers of the next generation. He was the first man in Austria to come with an idea to bar latecomers from the opera hall till the end of an act."

This answer by Lola Hamrayeva from South Korea. And this came from R. Francis from Canada:

"It sounds as if the composer was Gustav Mahler. My wife's family knew the two elderly Mahler sisters who lived in the Vinohrady region of Prague."

Barbara Ziemba listens to Radio Prague in Illinois:

"I am a huge fan of Mahler's music and currently reading 'Gustav Mahler - A Life in Crisis' by Stuart Feder. His life was filed with many crises and this was reflected in his music. He lost eight siblings as a child, his parents died when he was only 29, his daughter Putzi died of scarlet fever at the age of five, he himself came near to death with a heart haemorrhage at the age of 41, and the final crisis of his life was when his wife Alma had an affair. He died at the age of 50 while writing his Tenth Symphony."

Our regular listener Colin Law from New Zealand wrote this in his long e-mail:

"Mahler was surrounded by more than his fair share of tragic events and it is said that this had a major influence on his musical work. His mother was born with a limp and suffered from heart disease. Bernhard and Maria's first child, a son, died in infancy, the fate that befell several others of the total of 14 children born to them. Maria's many pregnancies and frequent care of sick children left her chronically exhausted. Gustav's musically gifted younger brother, Otto, committed suicide in 1895."

And David Eldridge from England mentions other sad facts from Gustav Mahler's life:

"Alma and Gustav had two daughters but the youngest, Maria Anna, died of diphtheria at the age of five. This left Gustav grief stricken and in the same year of her death he found he was suffering from a serious heart disease, infective endocarditis. This illness, together with increasing anti-Semitic attacks in sections of the press forced his resignation from the Opera in 1907. Mahler died in Vienna on 18 May 1911 aged 50, leaving behind nine symphonies. Alas, many of his earlier works are now lost."

Helmut Matt listens to us in Germany:

"This month's question is pretty easy, especially for German listeners. Of course you are talking about one of my very favourite composers, Gustav Mahler, aren't you? So that's my answer to your Question of the month. By the way - my favourite is the Adagietto from his fifth Symphony - no other piece of music touches my heart as deeply, as this unreachable masterpiece."

And finally, Kristina Fallin is writing from the United States:

"Born at Kaliste in Bohemia, the son of a Jewish peddler, he later describes himself as thrice homeless, a Bohemian born in Austria, an Austrian among Germans and a Jew throughout the world. Everywhere an intruder, never welcomed."

Thank you very much for your well-researched answers and personal comments. As usual, only four of you can be drawn to receive small presents from Radio Prague. And this month, the lucky ones are:

Lola Hamrayeva from South Korea, Barbara Ziemba from the United States, Fru Glory Zii from Cameroon and Jaromir Hauzar from Germany. Congratulations and your parcels are on their ways.

If you haven't been lucky this month, why don't you give it a try this time:

We would like to know the name of the Czech-born psychiatrist and psychologist who was born in Prague in 1931 and is considered to be one of the founders of transpersonal psychology. He devoted his career to exploring altered states of consciousness, first using LSD and later special breathing techniques.

Your answers should reach us by the end of July at [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic. Until next week, bye-bye.