This first volume of Mahler's life takes us through the first forty years (up to the pivotal marriage to Alma Schindler); the second is to deal with his nine last stormy years in Vienna and New York, a period in which he attained international fame as the world's foremost conductor against all difficulties of competition, misunderstanding, and anti-Semitism -- but it was not until nearly forty years after his death that his stature as a composer was established. Mahler's life, like his 5th Symphony, combined antipodal characteristics: now agitated and cynical, now tranquil and visionary; filled with irony and simplicity, mockery and pathos. As in the music, these conflicts, opposites, and strains were brought into compelling resolution by an acutely sensitive intelligence, and an encompassing love whose power and honesty dominate all else. So complex and increasingly important a figure as Mahler could have only such a massive biography -- one that suggests answers to the questions which are raised by the senses. Years of virtual anonymity, compounded by world wars and deaths making losses of personal ties and social ruptures inevitable, fill the biographer's task with formidable obstacles. Henry-Louis de la Grange has overcome them and the scope and detail of this first volume are remarkable, based on nearly twenty years of sedulous effort. The debt which Mahlerians, musicologists, musicians and others owe de la Grange is considerable and the second volume will be awaited with anticipation.