Austria enjoys a long, rich history of cultural life. Once an empire that covered much of Central Europe, for centuries it attracted the leading lights of music, literature, drama, painting, and sculpture. Much of this was initiated by the ruling Habsburgs, who were fascinated by the arts, and by the early 19th century, music-making, reading poetry, producing small plays, and the like had become a staple of bourgeois life, especially in the capital, Vienna. This surge of interest and talent reached a highpoint around 1900, when such greats as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Robert Musil, Stefan Zweig, and Arnold Schönberg but also the leading scientists and philosophers of the day were living and working in Vienna, shaping the modern perspective of life. Gustav Mahler, whose works continue to captivate audiences around the world, was a central figure of this time.