Author Topic: Mahler's Height?  (Read 6828 times)

Offline mahler09

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Mahler's Height?
« on: April 28, 2010, 12:40:54 AM »
Just out of curiosity, does anybody know how tall Mahler was?  I tried looking online and in the first volume of the La Grange because it hit me that I didn't know but found nothing.  Thanks!

Offline James Meckley

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Re: Mahler's Height?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 01:26:35 AM »
Just out of curiosity, does anybody know how tall Mahler was?  I tried looking online and in the first volume of the La Grange because it hit me that I didn't know but found nothing.  Thanks!

I researched this some time ago (in regard to claims made about the way the Rodin Mahler bust is displayed in the lobby of Avery Fisher Hall) and found a reliable contemporary report that he was in the range of 5'2" to 5'3" and definitely not over 5'3"—in other words, quite short. I can look up the source if you need it; it came from one of the de La Grange volumes and was an account given by a close friend of Mahler's (Alfred Roller, I believe) who wrote extensively about Mahler's physical appearance.

My issue with the Rodin Mahler bronze in Avery Fisher Hall is that someone once claimed that it's displayed on a pedestal such that the bronze head is at the exact height Mahler's head would be if he were standing in the same spot. I doubted this, took some measurements, and found that the pedestal supporting the Rodin sculpture is six to seven inches too high. Also, sadly, the bronze is splattered with tiny pindots of latex wall paint—apparently no one bothered to put a dropcloth over the sculpture the last time a paint roller was used on the wall behind it. I complain about this to management every time I attend a concert there, but no one ever does anything about it.

James

« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 01:28:50 AM by James Meckley »
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler

Offline mahler09

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Re: Mahler's Height?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 01:36:53 AM »
Thanks!  I had been curious about this for a while but some Mahler facts are hard to come by.  I had thought of him as a little taller perhaps... but then again Mozart was short too. 
Paint??  Well if they listened to your complaints it could likely be remedied easily enough.  It reminds me of the statue of Charlemagne outside of Notre Dame in Paris:  A great leader, heroic pose, et cetera... covered in pigeons!

Offline James Meckley

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Re: Mahler's Height?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 02:01:44 AM »
It was Alfred Roller, as quoted in de La Grange, Gustav Mahler, volume 3, page 451. Roller says, "I estimate his height was no more than 160 centimeters." This is almost exactly 5'3". The fact that Roller was an artist of some stature should add additional credibility to his observations about Mahler's physical appearance, which go on for several pages and are quite interesting to read.

Yes, the splatters on the Rodin have been there long enough now that the chemicals in the paint have probably discolored the patina on the bronze beneath them.

James
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 02:04:08 AM by James Meckley »
"We cannot see how any of his music can long survive him."
Henry Krehbiel, New York Tribune obituary of Gustav Mahler

Offline mahler09

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Re: Mahler's Height?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2010, 02:47:12 AM »
Ah, well I suppose that Mahler and I are/were the same height then!  I am not on volume 3 quite yet but am getting there.  I'll definitely check that out though in the future; only a few hundred (thousand?) more pages...

john haueisen

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Re: Mahler's Height?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2010, 12:05:04 AM »
While speaking of Mahler's looks, Henry Louis de la Grange reports Alfred Roller noting Mahler's superb musculature.
So often  Mahler has been thought of as intellectual and perhaps even (mistakenly!) neurotic, but his biking, swimming, hiking, and mountain-climbing actually put him in the state of a highly trained athlete.  As I recall from La Grange's remarks, it was common at that time to take the sun--sunbathe--and it was during one of those afternoons in the sun that Alfred Roller observed Mahler's excellent physical condition.

Perhaps not so much the incurable endocarditis, but rather being forced to give up his fitness routines, contributed more to Mahler's decline following his daughter's death.   Only a man in such fit condition could have coped with the stresses of ten years of conducting the Vienna Opera.

--John Haueisen

Offline barry guerrero

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Re: Mahler's Height?
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2010, 04:54:49 AM »
It depends on how you define neurotic. One can be both neurotic and athletic - one isn't exclusive of the other. We know several things: we know that Mahler was incredibly driven, but we also know that he could be overly sensitive. We know that he could be the life of the party, and yet, we know that he could suddenly become incredibly aloof. Some might call that neurotic behavior. At the very least, he could - at times - be a difficult and irascible person. There's no need to make him into a saint. But yes, he was a strong willed person with a fairly athletic build to him.

 

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