1860 – July 7: Gustav Mahler is born to the businessman Bernhard Mahler and his wife Marie (née Hermann) in Kališt, (Bohemia).
1870 – First public appearance as a pianist.
1875 – Mahler begins to study music at the Vienna Conservatory.
1877 – Enrolment at Vienna University – where, besides studying Harmony, he attends classes in History and Philosophy. To finance his studies, Mahler gives piano lessons.
1880 – Assistant Conductor at Bad Hall (Upper Austria).
Mahler composes the cantata Das klagende Lied for solo voices, choir and orchestra set to his own text, and begins composing the fairytale opera Rübezahl, of which only the libretto is preserved today.
1881–1882 – Theatre Conductor in Ljubljana.
1883–1885 – Conductor in Olmütz, music and choir conductor at the Royal Theatre in Kassel from June 1983 onwards.
In his composing, he concentrates on the traditional forms of symphony and song.
1885/1886 – Due to disagreements with the directorship of the Kassel Theatre, Mahler resigns his post and moves to work as Operatic Conductor at the German Landestheater in Prague.
1886 – Appointed to the same position at the Leipzig Theatre.
1888 – First meeting with Richard Strauss, with whom he remains close friends throughout his life. Director of the Royal Hungarian Opera, Budapest.
1889 – Mahler begins the setting to music of the folk song collection compiled by Clemens Bretano (1778–1842) and Achim von Arnim (1781–1831) Des Knaben Wunderhorn. It forms the essential textual basis of his vocal composition over the next few years, whereby he puts musical structure before the content of the text.
1891–1897 – He becomes First Conductor at the Hamburg City Theatre and takes over as Director of the Symphony Orchestra.
Mahler completes the Second and Third Symphonies, in which he blends the symphonic and song forms together by integrating songs and orchestral songs written as instrumental movements into the symphonies.
1891–1893 – The orchestral version of the 1883 cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, is one of the first original works which can be classified as orchestral song.
1897 – After converting from Judaism to Catholicism, Mahler can be appointed to the post of Conductor, and later Artistic Director, of the biggest theatre of the time – the Vienna Court Opera. Here, he strives to realize his ambition to reform opera: he propagates the idea of the opera as a whole work of art and touches up some works. Due to his professional commitments, he can only compose during periods when there are no performances going on.
1899 – Purchases land in Maiernigg at Wörthersee.
1900 – Completion of the Komponierhäuschen.
Completion of the Fourth Symphony at Maiernigg.
1898–1901 – Director of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
1901 – Mahler´s villa ready for occupation. Rough drafts of Fifth Symphony, composes several songs.
1902 – Marries Alma Schindler, who introduces him to artists from the Vienna Secession.
Completion of the Fifth Symphony at Maiernigg.
1904 – Completion of the Sixth Symphony. Finishes the Kindertotenlieder cycle (which he began in 1901) at Maiernigg.
1905 – Composes the Seventh Symphony at Maiernigg.
1906 – Composes the Eighth Symphony at Maiernigg.
1907 – Mahler resigns his post as Director of the Court Opera, Vienna. The reasons for his resignation are family problems and the frequent anti–Semitic attacks on him personally. Mahler´s eldest daughter dies at Maiernigg.
1908 – Mahler takes up the post of visiting conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra in New York.
1909 – Director of the New York Philharmonic Society.
1910 – September 12: the first performance of one of his major works, the Eighth Symphony, conducted by Mahler himself in Munich.
Works on the Tenth Symphony, which remains fragmentary.
1911 – Gustav Mahler dies in Vienna on May 18.
Mahler is buried at Grinzing, beside his daughter Maria Anna.
Posthumous first performances of the symphony for alto, tenor and orchestra, Das Lied von der Erde, and the Ninth Symphony, a purely instrumental work.