GUSTAV MAHLER Bohemian composer, born (d: 1911); It would be nice to claim Mahler as Gay if only because his music is so cosmic, so intensely beautiful, so obviously the work of a genius who somehow understood how to shake the emotions of his listeners until they were overcome with pain or sobs or feeling or something resembling whatever a catharsis is supposed to be.
But there’s really very little to go on, only Thomas Mann’s suspicion that the composer was homosexual, and the homosexual character of Aschenbach that he created in Death in Venice, based supposedly on Mahler.
It’s not much, but enough to have unleashed Visconti to do a job on Mahler and Mann in the film version of Mann’s unfilmable novella where Aschenbach is now portrayed as a composer whose work is derided, as opposed to being and author in the novella. Visconti’s choice of the Mahler score in Death in Venice left no question of Aschenbach’s identity. It’s Mahler on the Lido putting on makeup to attract the boy Tadzio, not Aschenbach.