Stay of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911):
- Year 1871. Neustadter Gymnasium.
- Year 1872. Neustadter Gymnasium.
- Year 1885. Season 1885/1886.
- Year 1886. Season 1885/1886.
- Year 1898. 1898 Concert Prague 03-03-1898 - Symphony No. 1.
- Year 1899. 1899 Concert Prague 04-06-1899.
- Year 1904. 1904 Concert Prague 25-02-1904 - Symphony No. 3.
- Year 1908. 1908 Concert Prague 23-05-1908, 1908 Concert Prague 19-09-1908 - Symphony No. 7 (Premiere) and periods May, June, September.
The history of Mahler's relationship with Prague (Prag, Praha) started in July 1885, when he was engaged by the Prague German Opera as a conductor at the young age of twenty-five. Prague was to prove an important milestone in Mahler's life, for it was here that he first confronted major professional challenges and it was here that his music was played for the first time. Mahler last visited Prague in 1908, when he conducted the premiere of his own Seventh Symphony. "My symphony [the 7th] will be performed on the 19th of September in Prague--if the Czechs and Germans don't go for each others throats before then", he wrote to Bruno Walter on the 18th of July.
It was a time when Czechs and Germans were indeed battling for political hegemony, but Mahler's symphony was nonetheless premiered by a joint Czech-German orchestra. The Prague public and critics of both nationalities received it with respect, acknowledgement and even enthusiasm. Mahler was and remained a figure who commanded the allegiance of both Czech and German musicians in Prague, and feelings were mutual: Mahler identified with German and Czech musical Prague.
In June 1885 Mahler was offered a post as conductor at the opera in Leipzig, but this was not coming vacant until the 1886-1887 season. While still in Kassel he therefore tried to find work for the 1885-86 season. On the 3rd of December 1884 he wrote a letter to the director of the theatre in Bremen, Angelo Neumann (1838-1910), enquiring about the possibility of collaboration. Neumann, however, had just finished in Eremen and was preparing to take over the Prague German Theatre. He had no interest in Mahler, and had already chosen Anton Seidl (1850-1898), an outstanding conductor with whom he had very good experience, as orchestra conductor for the Prague theatre.
Over the next weeks, however, it transpired that Seidl was angling for an engagement at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Neumann was concerned that Seidl might let him down in Prague, and so turned to Mahler. Quite probably he visited one of the young conductor's performances in Kassel, because he never engaged musicians he did not know. He had an unerring ability to discern talent and he took Mahler, even though the twenty-five-year old Kapellmeister had no experience of large-scale theatres and productions.
Year 1895. Prague.
Angelo Neumann (1838-1910)'s caution was justified. Immediately after the start of the first Prague season, in August 1885, Anton Seidl requested a long leave of absence to guest conduct in Bayreuth and then went straight on to New York rather than back to Prague. Neumann's ambitious Prague opera programme now rested on the shoulders of the soon to be departing Ludwig Slansky, who had worked at the Prague Theatre for more than twenty years, and Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).