Originally Posted by PSmith08
Well, "kindertotenlieder" is German for "songs on the death of children." (actually, I think "children's-death-songs" comes closer, but I am no German scholar)
If I am correct, Mahler's daughter died after these were written and his wife never forgave him for "jinxing" the child. However, a truer Mahlerian than I probably knows the story better.
Well, from what I have read and been told in my art classes, Alma Mahler (née Schindler) was the daughter of artists, but was more interested in music as a youngster. She bragged that she received her first "kiss" from Gustav Klimt, who also bragged that he gave her her first kiss -- whatever that means. In 1902, she married Mahler who was 20 years older than her, and her career as a composer was then sidelined, permanently. During the marriage, she and Gustav had 2 daughters, elder (Maria Anna) died shortly after Mahler completed Kindertotenlieder in 1907. Anna is on record as saying that Gustav felt that his works were "prophetic" with respect to his own life, he believed that writing the Kindertoten Lieder had "hexed" his child, and Anna felt that the Symphony no. 6 (composed 1903-06) actually was Mahler foretelling his own death. Their marriage suffered ups and downs, Mahler had an affair with one or more than one of his sopranos (sorry, no hints of train rides from Venice, Mark) while Alma started up with Walter Gropius. Mahler was so upset by her liaison with Gropius that he spoke to Sigmund Freud about it. Apparently, Alma was definitely sexually active outside the marriage as was Gustav.
After Mahler's death, she entered into a tempestuous liaison with Kokoschka which lasted around 2 years. She ended it because of the obsessive nature of the relationship. She then resumed her liaison with Gropius, marrying him in 1915 or 16. She gave birth to her third child, a daughter by Gropius (Manon) in 1916. Unhappily married again to an extremely paternalistic man, she then embarked on a liaison with Franz Werfel and became pregnant by him. She then divorced Gropius to marry Werfel in 1929. Unfortunately her son by Werfel did not survive to 1 year. Her daughter by Gropius later became ill and died in 1934 of polio (contracted during a vacation in Venice) at the age of 17. To give you an idea of their circle, Alban Berg then dedicated his violin concerto to Manon Gropius (the angel in the dedication).
Just after or on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, Werfel and Alma then fled the Nazis first to France and then to the United states. I think I read a quote from Henry Miller who knew them in Paris, which painted her as something of an emasculating black widow. Ofcourse, Miller may not be the most reliable witness or judge of these things given his own history. In the process of fleeing the Germans again, they stopped in Lourdes where Werfel was inspired to write his most famous book, The Song of Bernadette
(which has its own fascinating history in Hollywood). Once in the USA, she encouraged Werfel to move to California (Thomas Mann moved there in 1942, so there must have been quite a community of writers out there). In 1943, David O. Selznick made the book into the movie as a vehicle for his then lover (he was still married to Irene Mayer) Jennifer Jones. Werfel died in 1945 and Alma relocated to NYC. She was by then pretty old but still fascinating, and embarked on a new career of promoting Mahler's music. Anna set up her studio in California while Alma eventually settled in NYC. After her mother's death in 1964, Anna moved back to Europe where she lived until she died sometime in the 1980s.
They actually made a movie of her life, Bride of the Wind
. Here's the synopsis from imdb.com
|Plot Summary for Bride of the Wind (2001)
Vienna, 1902: Alma Schindler meets Gustav Mahler. She beautiful, young, plays, and composes: music is her life. She becomes Mahler's lover, then he marries her, asking that she give up composing. She has two children, works as his assistant, does his books, saves him from debt, and feels stifled. In 1910, after the death of a child, she retreats to a spa where she falls in love with Walter Gropius. Will she go with him or stay with Mahler? She conducts an affair with the tempestuous Oskar Kokoschka and is stifled in another way. Then, she marries Gropius, who proves imperious. She leaves him for Franz Werfel: he finds her compositions and insists the public hear them.
Sounds like something made for TV. In fact, Alma's life sounds like grist for a miniseries, Bride of the Winds of War.