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For the Love of Mahler: The Inspired Life of Henry-Louis de La Grange

FOR THE LOVE OF MAHLER takes us into the passionate world of Henry-Louis de La Grange, a charismatic 91-year old music historian who since first hearing a Mahler symphony in 1945 devoted the rest of his life to researching every detail of the composer’s biography. After meeting Mahler's widow Alma in 1952, his deepening friendships with Gustav and Alma’s daughter Anna, and granddaughter Marina, made him a virtual member of the family. The film joins Henry-Louis on his annual migration from Marrakech to Paris and to the Italian Alps, while he busily works on revising his epic four-volume biography of Gustav Mahler. How Mahler’s music inspired his life, and how Henry-Louis channeled an obsession into a lifetime of groundbreaking discoveries, famous friendships and award winning accomplishments, demonstrates the remarkable power of music to change lives.

  • Jason Starr
  • Jason Starr
  • Henry-Louis de La Grange
    Key Cast
  • Pierre Boulez
    Key Cast
  • Riccardo Chailly
    Key Cast
  • Christoph Eschenbach
    Key Cast
  • Thomas Hampson
    Key Cast
  • Marina Mahler
    Key Cast
  • Roger Grange
    Director of Photography
  • Carolle Alain
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 17 minutes 16 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 14, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    300,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, United States
  • Language:
    English, French
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital ProRes422HQ
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Jason Starr

Since 1981 Jason Starr has produced and directed over one hundred films and television programs for broadcast on PBS, CBC, A&E, BRAVO and networks throughout Europe including Mezzo TV, 3sat and Kultura. These productions range from classical music and modern dance performances to documentary profiles of artists and cultural issues.

Especially passionate about sharing his love of music, Jason has created films intended to broaden interest in classical music performances. His documentaries employ an interdisciplinary approach highlighting the historical, biographical and cultural context of an artwork. He hopes his films encourage the viewer’s appreciation of art as a portal to a mysteriously entwined universe.

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Director Statement

As a teenager, when I was first becoming aware of the music of Gustav Mahler, one name repeatedly surfaced on every recording jacket, concert playbill and book having to do with the composer: Henry-Louis de La Grange. It seemed that the great Austrian symphonist and songwriter could not be seriously discussed without drawing on the writings of his devoted biographer. And when I produced my first film exploring the meaning of a Mahler masterpiece (What the Universe Tells Me: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mahler’s Third Symphony), it was Professor La Grange who was an obvious choice to have on camera. Since then I have been lucky to enjoy an enduring friendship with the man.

Henry-Louis de La Grange is one of the most charismatic people I have ever known. His passion for Mahler’s music has shaped his life—literally! He’s a living example of the power of art to transform. Yet it didn’t occur to me until just a few years ago that a portrait of this unique, charachterful and by almost anyone’s measure, great man could make a compelling film.

Born in 1924, this son of a French baron and American heiress could have led a playboy’s life on the Riviera where the family yacht was docked. But his passion for music took him to Carnegie Hall where in December, 1945 he had his religious experience: Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. This changed everything. After having earned a reputation as a savvy Parisian music critic, he began to dedicate his energies toward exploring the man whose music had transformed him. The fact that his friends over the next decades would fill a “Who’s Who” in music (Alma Mahler, Alfred Cortot, Samuel Barber, Nadia Boulanger, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Alfred Brendel, Jesse Norman, Elliot Carter, etc.) indicates the respect, attraction and joyful fascination these luminaries held for Henry-Louis. His seemingly infinite string of anecdotes about these great personalities combined with the intriguing details of his 70-years of research, writing and loving promotion of Mahler’s music screamed to me: make this film!