Gustav Mahler in Toblach/Dobbiaco

Gustav Mahler’s stay at Carbonin Vecchia

(In this composition, Marianna Trenker, an adopted child of the Trenker family, wrote his memories of Mahler, still very vivid in 1938.)

For three years, Gustav Mahler spent his summer holidays in that beautiful estate at Altschluderbach, splendidly located close to the edge of the wood. Gustav Mahler spent the summer of 1907 at Neuschluderbach, now Schluderbach/Carbonin. While strolling around, he obviously noticed how peacefully our house was located, and in the spring of 1908 he rented the flat where he spent three summers and where his wife, by then a widow, stayed again in 1911.It is a large and airy house, with ten rooms and a nice closed veranda. The house is one of the ancient mansions of Toblach, dating back to the time of Emperor Maximilian. The coat of arms of the Lords of Leis is still visible on the ceiling of the great hall. Five minutes away, enclosed in a quiet fir wood, there is a plain hut: this is where Gustav Mahler worked. Every year, in the spring, three pianos were delivered and carried to this hut. He spent most of his time there, and no one - not even his wife - was allowed to bother him. Early in the morning, everything he needed for his breakfast had to be ready: tea, coffee, butter, honey, eggs, biscuits, fruits, and poultry. At six in the morning, conductor Mahler went to work. An oven completed the hut’s outfit. After lighting up the oven he prepared his own breakfast. The hut was surrounded by a fence, one and a half metres high, spanning over one kilometer.Two boys happened to jump over the fence and bother the famous composer, begging for alms. The fence was then fitted with spiked wire. One day a vulture chased a crow that flew into Mahler’s working room in search for shelter. The conductor, in a state, went to old Trenker, and harshly complained for that cheeky intruder. Mr. Trenker laughed to him and they ended up with laughing together. Even the house cock upset him, because it spoilt his morning sleep with its “cock-a-doodle-doo”. “How could we teach this cock not to sing in the morning?”, asked Mr. Mahler. “Easy,” answered Mr. Trenker, “just wring its neck”. But Gustav Mahler did not want to go that far. In his relations with people, he was very good and rather sociable. People often told of how during his studies he – a member of a large family – had been living for days on a piece of bread, so as to make money last. He often took needy guys from the street, dressed them up, and gave them money to help them find a job. They were certainly grateful to him until they died.Gustav Mahler used to have many guests. These sometimes included Selma Kurz, a famous singer. One day he was with his wife’s guests, whom  he obviously did not take too much to. He suddenly stood up and said, waving his hand: “There are many swines in Vienna, and there may be some among us.”One of my earliest child memories is a clear image of Gustav Mahler, with his ruffled hair, his plain everyday suit, and his special gait. We have a picture of him with his signature. It is a very dear souvenir of the great composer.I dedicate these notes to the memory of the famous composer that stayed in my mother land.Marianna TrenkerAltschluderbach, Toblach, August 16, 1938


Exerpts from letters that Mahler wrote during his stay in Toblach

Biography Gustav Mahler

Mahlers Toblacher works (german)