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Mahler’s Conversion

Ronald Harwood

In Mahler’s Conversion by Ronald Harwood, Gustav Mahler – obsessed with power and fame – rejects his Jewish background and his friends with devastating consequences.

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‘I belong nowhere.’

Obsessed with power and fame, Gustav Mahler rejects his Jewish background and his friends with devastating consequences.

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), a composer and conductor of passion and genius, was born in Bohemia and faced a lifetime of prejudice – ‘I’m homeless. Not once but three times. First, a native of Bohemia in Austria. Second, an Austrian among Germans. And third, a Jew in the rest of the world’. But in 1897, in order to be granted the prestigious position of Director of the Vienna Court Opera, Mahler decided to convert to Catholicism. In time, however, as his world collapsed, he came to believe he was being made to pay a dreadful price for his ruthless ambition.

Mahler’s Conversion premièred at the Aldwych Theatre, London in September 2001.


Ronald Harwood came to England from South Africa in 1951 and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He was an actor for seven years, and began writing in 1960. Since then he has written numerous plays for the stage, including ‘After the Lions’, ‘Tramway Road’, ‘Interpreters’, ‘Another Time’, ‘Quartet’, ‘Equally Divided’ and ‘Mahler’s Conversion’, and an adaptation of…

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