Gustav Mahler probably got to know Dobbiaco for the first time in July 1897 while on a bicycle tour through the Puster Valley from Vahrn. While he was working on the 4th to the 8th symphony, he made several trips to Toblach and the surrounding area.
In July of 1907, his four year-old daughter Maria died in Maiernigg of scarlet fever and diphtheria. This was one of the reasons Mahler was looking for a new summer residence and found it in Toblach. Mahler spent the summer from 1908 to 1910 with his wife Alma and daughter Anna in the Trenkerhof in Alt-Schluderbach-Toblach. In the nearby spruce forest he had the wooden "composing house" built.
Gustav Mahler was enthralled by his summer vacation in Dobbiaco: "It's wonderful here and definitely repairs body and soul..." (1909 to Arnold Berliner) Mahler often walked into the village center of Dobbiaco or to neighboring Aufkirchen, and he went on excursions in the area and entertained many guests. Among them were Richard Strauss and his wife, with whom he dined at the Grand Hotel. The summer of 1910 was marred by a serious marital crisis. The architect Walter Gropius appeared in Dobbiaco to confess his love for Alma and obtain a divorce from Mahler; Alma chose Gustav. His work was also interrupted by a trip to Holland to consult Sigmund Freud. On the couch he discussed coping with his marital crisis and coming to terms with his mother figure.
In 1908, Mahler wrote to Bruno Walter: "This time I have to change not only the place but also my whole way of life. You can imagine how difficult the latter is for me. I have been accustomed to constant and vigorous exercise for many years. Roaming on mountains and forests to create my drafts. I only went to my desk like a farmer in the barn to get my sketches in shape. Even mental indispositions have given way after a hard march (mainly uphill). I should avoid any physical effort, constantly control myself. At the same time, in this solitude, where I am attentive to the inside, I feel more clearly everything that is wrong with me physically. Maybe my outlook is too bleak, but since I've been in the country I feel worse than in the city, where the distraction also belied many things."
Mahler finally left on September 3, 1910, badly affected. The following May, 1911, he died in Vienna of bacterial endocarditis.