(Above: The Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy in the background, and an ode to Mahler's 'Das Lied Von Der Erde' in the foreground)
"...The room and the surroundings are beautiful, apart from the noise that keeps disturbing me. The farmers whisper and the window-panes tinkle; or they walk on tiptoe and shake the house. The two lively children babble all day: 'Bibi! Bibi!' (that’s their volapük and it means everything). The dog too makes me feel like a 'man among men' and keeps barking from dawn until the peasants turn in. I wake up with a start every quarter of an hour and think of those that are softly snoring. To hell: how nice the world would be if you had two jugers of land to enclose within a fence and rest alone inside..."
(An excerpt of a letter written from Gustav Mahler to his wife Alma from their house in the Italian Dolomites, June 24, 1909.)
After Opera Chic passed a relaxing Easter break, (breathing the intoxicatingly fresh Dolomiti air, sampling the ecstatic mountain food and dairy [Ristorante al Capriolo in Vodo di Cadore where much 2001 Hofstätter Yngram was imbibed, the Hotel Belvedere restaurant at Cima Sappada for the freshest food, and Latteria Tre Cime Dobbiaco for, well, everything else], taking in the sights [Titian’s birth house was pretty cool in Piazza Tiziano in Pieve di Cadore], and stocking-up on all the delectable foodstuff at La Bottega Di Sappada [polenta, dried funghi, cheese such as malga and latteria, etc]), I was ready to download all the awesome pictures and spin the yarn.
One of the adventures during the break brought me to the heart of “Mahler Country” ["Come To Where The Mahler Is"], to a town nestled in the hills of the Dolomites by the Austrian border, called Toblach (in German) / Dobbiaco (in Italian).
(Above: Runners to celebrate Mahler erected at the park of the Grand Hotel.)
During his brief run as Principal Conductor of NYC’s Metropolitan Opera (1908–1910), Gustav Mahler retreated to the small Italian-border town of Dobbiaco where he spent three of his summers in a sweet little house, before he passed away in the summer of 1911. It was there among the cows and the smoked wood that he composed Das Lied von der Erde, the Ninth Symphony, and the unfinished Tenth Symphony (ie, what many consider his best work).
(Welcome to the land that Mahler <3'd. This is the park at the front of the Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy.)
There are loads of letters that were written from the quaint house in Dobbiaco to both Bruno Walter and his wife Alma (one of which was posted above) that document the pastoral heaven and pure air that he enjoyed.
Throughout the town, there are monuments to the late Austrian composer. Streets, plaques and large halls boast his name, and most ostentatiously, the grounds of historic Grand Hotel is adorned with tributes, including a Cultural Center. Every summer, the town plays host to an annual summer festival, and awards The International Record Prize (where our own caro zio Norman Lebrecht has sat among the jurors, being a member of The Gustav Mahler Society). Sweet.
(Above: A plaque that commemorates Mahler's 'Das Lied Von Der Erde' at the Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy. Below is a close-up of Mahler's DLVDE, or, "Il Canto della Terra" in Italian.)
Italy, I freakin ♥ u plz nev4r leav meeeee!