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Alma Mahler's Youth, 1879 to 1902
Alma Maria Schindler was born on 31 August 1879, in Vienna, then the metropolitan center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Her father, Emil Jakob Schindler (1842-1892), a native of Vienna, became one of the most significant landscape painters of his era, and her mother, Anna Schindler (née Bergen; 1857-1938), originally of Hamburg, had a brief career as an actress and singer in Vienna, until her marriage to Schindler, in 1879. In 1884, with his career on the upswing, Schindler took up residence in an old castle, Schloss Plankenberg, embedded in an enchanting setting of trees, hills and fields, and it was here that Alma, along with her younger sister, Margarethe ('Grete') Schindler (1880-1942), spent much of her childhood; the family also had an apartment in the city, on Mariahilfergasse. Carl Moll (1861-1945), an aspiring young painter, began studying with Schindler in 1881 and became a close friend of the family.
Among the many honors which Schindler accrued as a painter was a commission from Crown Prince Rudolf to paint localities within the Empire along the coast of Dalmatia and Greece–a several-months-long trip from the late fall of 1887 until the spring of 1888, on which his family, including Alma and Grete, accompanied him. While staying on the island of Corfu, the family had an upright piano delivered, and Alma, who had early felt drawn to music, began, at the age of nine, her first attempts at composing.
The year 1892 brought a tragic caesura in Alma's childhood, when her father died suddenly, due to complications of an old appendix inflammation, while the family was vacationing on the North Sea island of Sylt. Alma had by her own account enjoyed an especially close relationship with her father, whom she remembered as "the great model of [her] childhood," and her "guiding star," who "always took [her] seriously." He was "deeply musical," with an excellent tenor voice, and was a gifted conversationalist and storyteller. Alma describes her mother mainly as supplying a practical discipline in household and financial matters, a skill sorely lacking in her father, who "knew nothing but his art."
Soon after Emil Schindler's death, Anna Schindler gave up Schloss Plankenberg. In 1895 she married Carl Moll, and the family moved into Moll's house on the Theresianumgasse. Alma felt alienated by the reconfiguration of her family and was resentful of Moll's attempts to fill a fatherly role in her life. A few years later, Anna and Carl had a daughter together, Maria Moll (1899-1945; later Maria Eberstaller).
In 1897 Carl Moll was one of the co-founders of the Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs–the Vienna Secession, a group of artists and architects who had 'seceded' from the conservative Künstlerhaus, the established Viennese art association. Moll's house became a meeting place for Secession members, including Gustav Klimt, Kolomon ('Kolo') Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and Josef Hoffmann; as well as literary figures, such as Max Burckhard (at that time director of the Burgtheater) and Hermann Bahr. As she verged on young womanhood, Alma enjoyed lively social interaction with these and other prominent figures in Viennese artistic circles. She credited Burckhard, in particular, with having given her the sense of being intellectually acknowledged and having promoted the depth and breadth of her reading.
In the spring and summer of 1899, the 19-year-old Alma experienced her "first great love," as she later remembered it. Enamored of Alma, Klimt, who was 17 years her senior and had a reputation for a bohemian lifestyle, pursued her while she was traveling with her family in Italy, and when he caught her alone, they kissed–the first time in her life that she had kissed a man. Alma's mother and stepfather learned of the progress of the flirtation and quickly intervened. Having been romantically awakened by Klimt's attentions, Alma was also sorely disillusioned by his retreat in the face of parental opposition, and deeply pained for months over what she herself seems to have acknowledged as the impossibility of the relationship, given her own ingrained sense of propriety. (When Klimt died of a stroke in 1918, Alma felt as if a large piece of her youth departed with him and averred that she "had never stopped loving him.")
In the wake of her disrupted relationship with Klimt, Alma threw herself with renewed fervor into her music. She had for several years been taking composition lessons with the blind composer and organist Josef Labor; in 1899 he began to teach her counterpoint. In 1900 Alma met the young composer and conductor Alexander Zemlinsky. Immediately captivated by him, she successfully sought to become his student; around that time she also became acquainted with Arnold Schoenberg, a fellow student of Zemlinsky.
Alma found in Zemlinsky a kindred spirit and a musical mentor of high caliber; they also fell in love, with mutual feelings breaking to the surface in April 1901. Amidst expressions of affection and love for Zemlinsky in her diary, Alma mentions with ambivalence the idea of marrying him; that he was not conventionally attractive did not disturb her, but the fact that he was Jewish (on his mother's side) gave her pause, and–as her mother emphasized to her, disapprovingly–he was also poor. Their up-and-down, emotion-filled relationship continued over the course of the following months. On 7 November 1901, however, something occurred that ultimately led Alma to end her relationship with Zemlinsky: at a dinner party given by her friend Berta Zuckerkandl, journalist and wife of the anatomist Emil Zuckerkandl, Alma encountered Gustav Mahler, the director of the Vienna Court Opera since 1897.
Although Alma Schindler lacked an appreciation for Mahler's music at the time of her early acquaintance with him, she and Zemlinsky shared a deep admiration for Mahler as conductor and director; Mahler had conducted the premiere of Zemlinsky's second opera, Es war einmal, at the Vienna Court Opera, in 1900. A year and half before, Alma had been introduced to Mahler while on a vacation trip with her family, and he had even jokingly sent her his autograph on a postcard, but on this evening she truly drew his attention; among other things, they came into a spirited discussion over the fact that Mahler had long failed to respond to Zemlinsky about his ballet score "Das gläserne Herz" (from "Triumph der Zeit"), which Mahler now purported not to understand; Alma offered to explain it to him.
Mahler initiated further contact with Alma, and their relationship developed at a rapid pace. At the end of December –less than two months after their first meeting–Gustav and Alma became officially engaged in the presence of Anna and Carl Moll, at the new home where Alma and her family had been living since October, Steinfeldgasse 8, on the Hohe Warte, in Döbling, a fashionable residential area in Vienna's 19th district, which is so-named because of its elevated location, overlooking the city. Alma and Gustav were married on 9 March 1902 in St. Charles Church (Karlskirche), Vienna. She was 22 years old, and he 41.
Alma Mahler as Composer
Several days before the engagement, Alma and Gustav had survived a decisive turn in their relationship when Gustav, in response to a letter from Alma in which she had referred to her 'work' on her music, wrote her a long letter in which he straightforwardly clarified to Alma his expectation that, if they indeed married, it was his music that would now also be hers: "The role of 'composer,' the 'worker's' role, falls to me–yours is that of the loving companion and understanding partner! Are you satisfied with it?" He knew he was asking a "great deal" and implored her to consider whether by giving up her own music for his she would then feel she "were having to forgo an indispensable highlight of [her] existence," and closed with the admonishment: "be truthful!" Alma was at first stunned, feeling that she had lived for her music until then; nevertheless, upon reconsidering the letter the following morning, she decided that she loved Mahler and now must "live fully for him, in order that he be happy."
In the context of considering Alma Mahler as a composer, almost as famous as the story about the 'composing prohibition' imposed by Mahler, is that of how Alma's songs first came to be published: in the summer of 1910, following a crisis in the marriage of Gustav and Alma, he went and found in their storage place Alma's songs, which she had saved from her youthful years, began to play them, and–regretting his earlier attitude toward her work–became enthused with idea that she should resume composing and that her songs should be published; Alma reports his saying to her: "What have I done? . . . . These songs are good–they're excellent. I insist on your working on them and we'll have them published. I shall never be happy until you are composing again . . . ." Accordingly, five of Alma's songs were indeed published that year by Universal Edition (Mahler's own publisher), as Fünf Lieder They drew some attention and were performed at recitals in Vienna and New York; apparently–according to a letter that Gustav wrote to Alma's mother in February 1911–Alma began seriously to work on her composing again. She published four further songs as Vier Lieder, in 1915.
Later on, in 1924, after Alma was together with Franz Werfel, she published an additional five songs, as Fünf Gesänge; one of these, "Der Erkennende," was based on a poem by Werfel that Alma had read and set to music in 1915, two years before she met him. In an undated letter written by Werfel to Alma, at around the time of that publication, he offers words of encouragement, which seem to indicate that Alma was not at that point regularly composing but had perhaps mentioned or written to Werfel about the possibility that she would write new songs: "It would be splendid if, while revising, you might compose another song or two . . . or rework an older one, in order to fill out these three sections, but it is not necessary; even just as it is, it will be an excellent, objectively magnificent edition."
These three publications, of 1910, 1915 and 1924, with a total of 14 songs, represent the entire oeuvre of songs published by Alma during her lifetime. In recent years, three additional songs by her have been discovered in manuscript. Two of these were published by the music scholar Susan M. Filler; a third remains unpublished.
In attempts to reconstruct Alma's creative life as a composer, scholars have paid close attention to her utterances in her early diaries (Tagebuch-Suiten), on the basis of which it is possible to construct a chronology of 47 individual songs and three song cycles which she worked on, to one degree or another, between 1898 and 1901, and presumably the total number of compositions exceeded that. Whether or not Alma actually ceased to compose between 1902 and 1910 is a subject of scholarly speculation. What is certain, however, is that she put her considerable musical education and sensibility at the service of Gustav Mahler's works in the course of their marriage. In describing their first summer vacation together, Alma recalled:
"I tried playing the piano very softly, but when I asked whether he had heard me he said he had, although his studio was far away in the wood. And so I changed my occupation; I copied all he had of the Fifth straight away, so that my manuscript was ready only a few days behind him. He got more and more into the way of not writing out the instrumental parts in the score–only the first bars; and I learnt at this time to read his score and to hear it as I wrote and was more and more of real help to him."
Gustav Mahler's Youth and his Musical Career until 1902
Mahler, who came from a German-speaking Jewish family, was born in Kalischt, Bohemia, on 7 July 1860, and raised in Iglau, Moravia, both small towns in the culturally diverse Czech lands of the Austrian Empire. His father, Bernhard Mahler, presided over a distilling business and tavern; his mother, Maria (often called Marie) Mahler, bore, in all, 14 children. Seven boys died as infants or toddlers; and a younger brother Ernst, to whom Gustav had been very close, died in 1875, at about the age of 13. Mahler's parents, who might be regarded as assimilated Jews, attended synagogue. His father was widely read and prided himself on his library, and the family owned a grand piano on which Gustav practiced.
Gustav's exceptional musical talent became apparent when he was a young child, and his parents encouraged his fledgling attempts at composition. Folk songs and dances, as well as military-band music, formed a part of the daily atmosphere in Iglau and evidently imprinted Mahler's musical sensibility; an important feature of his mature musical style was the use and defamiliarization of such popular forms. 
After taking piano lessons and studying music with various teachers in Iglau, Gustav went off to attend the Vienna Conservatory in the fall of 1875, at the age of 15. In 1878, the year he graduated, he won first prize in the composition contest there. Between 1878 and 1880, Mahler attended some courses at the University of Vienna and made a meager living giving piano lessons or playing as an accompanist; he also composed his first important work, Das klagende Lied), which he dedicated to the young woman with whom he was in love at the time, Josephine (or Josefa) Poisl, the daughter of the postmaster in Iglau.
In 1880, after signing on with an agent, Mahler took his first position as a conductor, in Bad Hall, a spa town near Linz, in Upper Austria. After this small beginning, Mahler steadily proved his abilities and distinguished himself as a conductor, proceeding on to posts in Laibach (now Ljubljana, Slovenia), 1881 to1882; Olmütz (now Olomouc, Czech Republic), 1883; Kassel, 1883 to 1885; Prague, 1885 to 1886; Leipzig, 1886 to 1888; Budapest, 1888 to 1891; and Hamburg, 1891 to 1897. In retrospect, these appear as stations en route to the pinnacle of accomplishment and prestige that he finally attained with his appointment, in the fall of 1897, as director of Vienna's Court Opera, a role which he would fill dynamically for an entire decade.
During the stay in Kassel, Mahler fell in love with the singer Johanna Richter and composed the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, based on poems he had written and dedicated to her. In Leipzig he became acquainted with Carl von Weber, Carl Maria von Weber's grandson, and accepted the challenge of completing Weber's unfinished opera Die drei Pintos. At the beginning of 1888, Mahler conducted the finished composition in a highly successful premiere, which consolidated his reputation. In the course of that project, he fell precariously in love with his patron's wife, Marion von Weber, who, however, remained with her husband. It was also in Leipzig that Mahler first met Richard Strauss, a musical contemporary with whom he corresponded and remained in distantly friendly and mutually productive interaction until the end of his life. In 1888 he completed his First Symphony, as well as the symphonic poem Totenfeier, which he later incorporated into the Second Symphony.
On the basis of his new renown after Die drei Pintos, Mahler made the startling advance, in the fall of 1888, to the directorship of the Royal Opera in Budapest–an impressive achievement for the 28-year-old conductor. In the nationalistically-charged atmosphere of Budapest he faced an uphill professional battle as a non-Hungarian. He achieved a hard-won triumph with his productions, in January 1889, of Wagner's first two Ring operas, Das Reingold and Die Walküre, for which he especially commissioned Hungarian librettos.
The year 1889 took a tragic personal turn: in February Mahler's father died; in September, his 25-year-old sister Leopoldine, who was married and had two children; and in October, his mother. Henceforth, Gustav assumed many financial responsibilities for his younger siblings: Louis (called Alois; 1867-ca. 1920s), Justine (1868-1938), Otto (1873-1895), and the youngest, Emma (1875-1933), who was not yet 14 when their parents died. The 20-year-old Justine, who had nursed her parents during their illnesses, took over the responsibilities of running the household. In the ensuing years, Justine became in many ways a steady companion to her composer brother in his bachelor existence, up until the time of his marriage.
In Budapest, in November 1889, Mahler premiered his own First Symphony, a work that–presaging the direction that Mahler's music was to take–"deliberately explored the familiar Romantic categories of Nature, Love and dancing Folk before strikingly interrogating and recontextualizing them," and bringing a finale of "urgently expressive intensity." The initial reactions of the public and critics to this breaking of new musical ground were, at best, 'mixed.' (When Mahler's First Symphony premiered in Vienna eleven years later, his future bride remarked in her diary, not entirely favorably: "a mixture of styles like nothing else–and an ear-numbing, nerve-wracking noise. I have never heard anything like it.")
With his performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni, in December 1890, Mahler won the esteem of Johannes Brahms. However, when Count Géza Zichy, a Magyar aristocrat of conservative leaning, was appointed as administrator of the Budapest opera, in January 1891, he lost no time in instigating friction between himself and Mahler, especially by directly intervening in artistic matters; less than two months later Mahler handed in his resignation. By that time he had already negotiated a new position as first conductor at the Hamburg Opera, where he stayed for the next six years and achieved new acclaim.
In Hamburg Mahler accrued the praise of Tchaikovsky for performing the composer's opera Eugene Onegin in its German premiere, in 1892; and the approval of Hans von Bülow, the great pianist-conductor, then resident in Hamburg, who years before, in Kassel, had snubbed an admiring Mahler's youthful appeal to him to become his pupil. Now Mahler indeed became Bülow's favored protégé, although his new mentor's esteem of him did not extend to Mahler's own compositions. Upon Bülow's death, in 1894, Mahler succeeded him as conductor of the Hamburg subscription concert series, a turn of events that put him on track to recognition as a symphony-concert conductor. The Hamburg period was also one of intense creativity, bringing the completion of Mahler's Second and Third Symphonies and the composition of many of his songs based on texts from the German folk-song collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
In Hamburg Mahler met Arnold Berliner, the noted physicist, who at that time gave Mahler English lessons. Berliner became a close and devoted friend. (After Mahler's death Berliner remained a good friend of Alma, until his suicide in Nazi Germany, in 1942.) In Hamburg, Mahler also continued a close friendship with Natalie Bauer-Lechner, a talented viola player whom he knew from his student days at the Vienna Conservatory; Natalie devotedly recorded their conversations, and her reminiscences later became a trove for Mahler scholars.
During this period Mahler established a rhythm in his creative life which continued later through the course of his married life with Alma: he composed during summer vacations in secluded locations of great natural beauty, where he would work undisturbed, often in a special 'composing cabin' (Komponierhäuschen)–which he would have built at a short distance from the main house, whenever he had settled on a longer-term summer residence; in his off hours he liked to refresh himself with long walks, hiking, bicycling trips, and swimming, as well as visiting with friends who would come out to see him. Mahler spent the summers of 1893 to 1896 in the village of Steinbach on the Attersee (lake) in the Austrian Salzkammergut, where he had a composing cabin built in the spring of 1894.
The year 1895 brought new family tragedy with the suicide, at age 21, of Mahler's younger brother Otto, who, like him, had set out upon a musical career. Professionally, the successful premiere of Mahler's Second Symphony in Berlin in December marked the beginning of public recognition of Mahler as a composer.
Mahler met the young soprano Anna von Mildenburg (later Bahr-Mildenburg) when she auditioned for the Opera in summer 1895. He subsequently became a mentor to her, and the two carried on a turbulent romantic relationship during Mahler's remaining time in Hamburg. Bruno Walter, who became a devoted supporter and friend of Mahler, also came to know him for the first time in Hamburg, where Walter was engaged for two seasons as a chorus director. (Later, Walter joined Mahler again at the Vienna Court Opera, where he was appointed as an assistant conductor in 1901.)
In 1897, when it was rumored that a successor was being sought for the current director of the Vienna Court Opera, Wilhelm Jahn, who was in failing health, Mahler's long-time aspiration to that prized musical post seemed ripe to be realized. He negotiated in every way he could through friends and associates, and, in this context, he converted to Catholicism in February 1897. Although he evidently had a deep personal faith intertwined with his art, Mahler appears to have been indifferent to institutional religion. Conversion did nothing to defuse anti-Semitic attitudes in general, but it did at least formally remove an obstacle standing in the way of his appointment. (The court ceremonial technically required, and for many, it was understood that the head of the leading cultural institution of the Empire must be a baptized Christian.)
The negotiations were successful: Mahler was appointed as assistant conductor in April 1897 and quickly succeeded to the directorship in October. His sisters Justine and Emma joined him in Vienna. The following year he also became director of the Vienna Philharmonic subscription concerts, so that he held simultaneously the two top musical posts in the 'imperial and royal' Austrian musical world (he resigned from the Vienna Philharmonic in 1901).
When Mahler broke the news to Justine that he intended to marry, it turned out that she also was in love, with the violinist Arnold Rosé, the concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic and friend of Mahler who was, by that time, already his brother-in-law–Arnold's older brother Eduard had, a few years before, married Gustav's other sister, Emma. Justine and Arnold were married on 10 March 1902, the day after the wedding of Gustav and Alma.
Alma and Gustav Mahler, 1902 to 1911
Alma and Gustav spent their 'honeymoon' in St. Petersburg, where he was conducting. Alma was by that time already pregnant: responding to Gustav's anxieties, she had made the momentous decision to lose her virginity to him before their wedding. After their return to Vienna, Alma moved in with Gustav, and they set up household together in the apartment on the Auenbruggergasse, where he had previously been living with his sister Justine.
In June 1902 Alma accompanied her husband to Krefeld, near Cologne, where he conducted the triumphant premiere of his Third Symphony at the annual festival of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein. In her memoir on Mahler, Alma recalls her listening experience on that occasion as having won her over to Mahler's music: "The full significance of his work, what I had previously only dimly perceived, became forever fully clear to me, from that moment on." In Mein Leben she recalls that his music was "in the beginning alien" to her, and that she drew close to it only "through the most extreme force of will."
While they were in Krefeld, the composer Hans Pfitzner came to see Mahler to plead with him to produce his opera Die Rose vom Liebesgarten. Mahler, who was ill-disposed to the work, refused, and Alma expressed her sympathy to Pfitzner by pressing his hand. She later dated her "lasting friendship" with Pfitzner to that encounter; in 1903 he dedicated his first string quartet to her, and in 1905 she succeeded in persuading Mahler to produce Die Rose vom Liebesgarten. (Pfitzner remained a friend of Alma until his death in 1949; in his later years, he made a gift to her of the original manuscript of the string quartet, opus 13.)
From Krefeld Alma and Gustav proceeded to Maiernigg, on the alpine lake Wörthersee, near Klagenfurt, where he had a summer residence. Mahler had bought a plot of land there in 1899; his composing cabin was ready by the summer of 1900, during which he completed the Fourth Symphony; and a villa was finished in 1901, the summer in which he began the Fifth Symphony and worked on various Lieder. He had spent those vacations in the company of his sister Justine and their friend Natalie Bauer-Lechner. Now Alma became acquainted with Mahler's daily schedule of work and recreation, and his requirements of diet–a regimen that, as she later recalled, "during the next six summers at Maiernigg never varied." Working in his composing cabin in Maiernigg from 1902 through 1907, Mahler completed his Fifth through his Eighth Symphonies and the Kindertotenlieder (based on poems by Friedrich Rückert).
Without delay the Mahler family began to grow: on 3 November 1902 Alma gave birth to their first daughter, Maria Anna, who was affectionately called 'Putzi'; Anna Justina was born on 15 June 1904 and immediately nicknamed 'Gucki,' for her beautiful wide-eyed expression.
A significant chapter in Mahler's work at the Vienna Opera was his collaboration with Alfred Roller, a Secessionist painter with whom he became acquainted through the Molls. A re-designed production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, with Roller's sets and lighting, had its impressive premiere in February 1903. In a new style of opera production, Mahler and Roller strove for their shared Wagnerian ideal: "to eliminate all that was merely 'decorative' in order to attain . . . total harmony between music and stage, score and text, word and gesture."
Willem Mengelberg, principal conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Netherlands, who had been in Krefeld for the premiere of the Third, invited Mahler to conduct it in Amsterdam in fall 1903. Mengelberg subsequently became a good friend of Mahler and a devoted interpreter of his work. (After Mahler's death, Alma Mahler maintained a friendship with Mengelberg, often intertwined with his conducting of Mahler works.)
Mahler's friendship with Arnold Schoenberg dates from 1904, when Schoenberg visited Mahler in the company of Alexander Zemlinsky; Mahler was persuaded to accept the honorary presidency of the Vereinigung Schaffender Tonkünstler in Wien, an association they were jointly founding which, on the model of the Secession movement in the visual arts, aimed to promote the performance of modern works. Students of Schoenberg at this time included Alban Berg and Anton Webern, who also looked up to Mahler.
The fact that Mahler, as director of the Vienna Court Opera, had exacting artistic standards and the will to enforce them and pursued innovative paths, left him vulnerable to criticism and resistance from conservative quarters of the public, the press, and the Opera personnel. His absences for concert tours in the interest of his own work also caused complaint. He was subject to anti-Semitic attacks in the press throughout his tenure. Yet he had the support of many in Viennese artistic circles, and Prince Alfred Montenuovo, the high-ranking court official who oversaw the administration of the Opera, was convinced of his artistic genius. From his side, Mahler also had reason to be dissatisfied at the Opera, because of the heavy time demands, as well as the frustrations he experienced in exercising leadership. These combined tensions found an outlet in 1907 when the Austrian-born Heinrich Conried, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, sought to attract Mahler to New York. After much negotiation, with Conried on the one hand and Montenuovo on the other, Mahler settled on a four-year contract (three months per year) for his engagement at the Metropolitan (beginning in 1908) and obtained his release from Vienna.
In her memoir about her life with Gustav Mahler, Alma recalled, of these first years of marriage: "I lived his life. I had none of my own. He never noticed the surrender of my existence." In her later memoir, she alludes more specifically to the yielding of her own musical development: "I longed for music! Yes, for music . . . that is indeed remarkable. . . . I longed for my own"; she also views herself as a kind of artistic guardian of Mahler: "Having always been obsessed with art, I, of course, had but one wish: to deliver Gustav Mahler from out of the Opera-drudgery into a free life."
Shortly after the move had been decided, a huge personal tragedy befell Alma and Gustav Mahler: on 12 July 1907, at Maiernigg, their older daughter, the four-year-old Maria, fell seriously ill (either of scarlet fever or diphtheria) and died after an unsuccessful tracheotomy. At just this time, Mahler was diagnosed with a defective heart valve. After Maria's death, Alma and Gustav left their villa in Maiernigg (they subsequently sold it) and spent the rest of the summer in a hotel by Lake Toblach, near Schluderbach, in the South Tyrol.
Mahler conducted for the last time at the Vienna Court Opera on 15 October 1907. After a conducting tour, he and Alma departed by train for Paris on 9 December, leaving behind their three-year-old Gucki (Anna), in the care of Anna Moll. They sailed from Cherbourg and, upon arriving in New York, settled into the Majestic Hotel on the Upper West Side, their home for the next several months (in the following years they stayed at the Hotel Savoy on Fifth Avenue). Mahler had a sensational debut at the Metropolitan with a performance of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, on New Year's Day 1908. That season they also traveled with the opera company several times to Philadelphia.
In New York Mahler came under the care of Joseph Fraenkel, a Viennese physician who had emigrated to the United States a decade before; Fraenkel became a close friend of both Gustav and Alma. Gustav was adjusting to the new awareness of a potentially debilitating heart condition. Alma experienced severe depression during this time. As she intimates in her memoirs, the death of Maria seems to have triggered the intensification of her feelings of desolation within her marriage and her sense of lacking a self-image outside of it.
Upon the return to Vienna in May 1908, Alma and Gustav settled on a new summer residence. They rented quarters in Haus Trenker, a large farmhouse in Alt-Schluderbach near Toblach (now Dobbiaco). Working in his new composing cabin in Alt-Schluderbach during the last three summers of his life, Mahler composed Das Lied von der Erde, his Ninth Symphony, and fragments of the Tenth, which remained unfinished.
From 1907 to 1911, the Mahler family (Anna came with them in the following years) shuttled back and forth across the Atlantic, spending the winter and early spring in the United States, and the summer and fall in Europe. Two society women in New York, enthused over one of Mahler's performances, decided to raise money on his behalf in order to put an orchestra completely at his disposal, and in this way he came to lead the re-organized New York Philharmonic, conducting his first performance in Carnegie Hall in March 1909. Leading up to the 1909/1910 season, Mahler negotiated lighter obligations at the Metropolitan, which gave him leeway to devote himself to the symphony concerts with the Philharmonic. (Conried had retired as manager of the Metropolitan in 1908, due to poor health, and was succeeded by Giulio Gatti-Casazza, previously director of La Scala, in Milan. Mahler initially experienced some friction with the newly arrived Arturo Toscanini, Gatti-Casazza's star conductor from La Scala.)
In Paris in spring 1909 (returning from New York), Alma and Gustav visited the studio of August Rodin, who had been commissioned by Carl Moll to do a bust of Mahler. They also enjoyed the company of their longtime friends General Georges Picquart (friend of Mahler since summer 1900), Paul Clemenceau (brother of the French statesman Georges Clemenceau), and his wife, Sofie, the sister of Bertha Zuckerkandl. In her memoirs Alma expresses great admiration for Picquart, who, as head of the French counter-espionage service, had been responsible for bringing to light the injustice that had been done in the Dreyfus case.
That fall the Mahler family moved out of their Auenbruggergasse apartment. They accepted the Molls' offer to stay with them at their home at Wollergasse 10, on the Hohe Warte, during the part of the year that they were in Vienna; the Molls had moved into that new house, which was designed for them by the Secession architect Joseph Hoffmann in 1908.
The year 1910 brought a landmark for Mahler the composer: to great fanfare, he conducted the premiere of his Eighth Symphony, in Munich on 12 September. It was, however, a year of terrible crisis for him and Alma in their personal lives. During the summer while Alma was taking a prescribed rest at the spa at Tobelbad, near Graz, she met and fell in love with the young architect Walter Gropius. Not intending to disclose the affair, she joined Mahler at their summer quarters in Alt-Schluderbach, near Toblach. Opening a letter one day, Mahler, with a shock, found himself reading a letter that Gropius had written to Alma and inadvertently addressed to Gustav Mahler. In the intense ensuing talks between husband and wife, Alma aired her dissatisfactions concerning their marriage, and Gustav, more than anything else fearful of losing Alma, was thrown into emotional turmoil. A love-struck Gropius appeared at Alt-Schluderbach at one point, apparently hoping to resolve the situation. Alma seems to have indicated to Mahler that she did not intend to leave him. Nevertheless, he was so shaken that he arranged on the spur of the moment to consult with Sigmund Freud and traveled to Leyden, in the Netherlands, in order to do so, less than a week before the final rehearsals in Munich were due to begin; he and Freud talked together for one afternoon, to beneficial effect, and Mahler returned to Alt-Schluderbach.
It was during this emotionally overwrought time at Alt-Schluderbach that Mahler took out Alma's songs, began to play them, and had such a great change of heart about her composing. He also asked her if she would like him to dedicate the Eighth Symphony to her (which he subsequently did). That summer, besides preparing for the premiere of the Eighth, Mahler was also working on the sketches for his Tenth Symphony. Tortured exclamations scribbled in the margins of the manuscript are testimony to his distraught state of mind—among these, impassioned declarations of love for Alma. (To the dismay of many, Alma reprinted these marginal notes in her memoir Gustav Mahler. Erinnerungen und Briefe, published in 1940.
Leaving Mahler under the impression that the affair with Gropius had ended, Alma continued meeting Gropius clandestinely—briefly in Vienna (at the home of her mother, in whom she confided); then briefly again in Munich, while Mahler was at rehearsals; and finally, on the train (in the sleeping car) on the way to Paris (Mahler was conducting and traveled separately), just be fore she, Mahler, and Anna boarded ship to travel back to New York.
Alma's songs (Fünf Lieder) and Gustav's Eighth Symphony (with its dedication to Alma) were published simultaneously by Universal Edition, with title pages of matching design, in the fall of 1910. In New York, when Frances Alda Gatti-Casazza (the wife of Giulio, the new director of the Metropolitan), asked Alma for permission to sing one of her songs at a recital, Gustav Mahler personally rehearsed the song with the singer. (By the time of the recital itself, Gustav was too ill to attend, so Alma was accompanied by their friend Dr. Fraenkel. The performance of the song was a great success, and Gustav was eager to hear all the details.)
Gustav fell ill in February 1911, and a blood test revealed bacterial endocarditis, a serious heart ailment related to vavular damage that had been discovered in 1907; at that time, before the development of antibiotics, there was no help for it. The family sailed back to Europe and consulted bacteriologists in Paris, where Mahler briefly revived and then had a relapse. He was transported back to Vienna, where he died at the age of fifty, on 18 May 1911.
Alma Mahler, 1911 to 1915
After Gustav's death, Alma and her daughter, Anna (just turning 7), stayed on at the home of Alma's mother and stepfather on the Hohe Warte, until the end of 1911; then they moved into an apartment at Pokornygasse 12, where they lived until 1914. At first, Alma retreated into the world of music, spending the whole day with Anna at the piano. In the course of 1911, she had some contact with Walter Gropius, with his coming once to Vienna and she going once to Berlin, but they apparently drifted apart emotionally during this time.
In the year or two after Mahler's death, a few male friends with whom Alma spent some time were evidently aspiring suitors. In her memoirs she writes about Dr. Joseph Fraenkel from New York, who had been such a comforting presence to her and Gustav, and now fervently sought her hand in marriage; the composer Franz Schreker, who shared with her his current work and sent her poems; and the biologist Paul Kammerer, who was married but nevertheless smitten with Alma. Kammerer was also a musician and a fervent admirer of Gustav Mahler: he had, earlier on, initiated an acquaintance with both Gustav and Alma. For a while in 1912 Alma worked (on a volunteer basis) in Kammerer's biological laboratory. There also exists friendly correspondence to Alma around this time from the Swiss pianist and conductor Edwin Fischer.
After Mahler's death, Alma remained in contact, as well, with Arnold Schoenberg, whose work Mahler had supported. When he was dying, Mahler had asked Alma to promise she would help Schoenberg whenever necessary. Alma established, in honor of Mahler, a fund to help musicians in need, the Gustav Mahler Stiftung, and Schoenberg was the first beneficiary in 1912. Alma was also on a friendly footing with Schoenberg's students Alban Berg and Anton Webern; in 1913 to 1914 they turned to her for guidance in their own efforts to raise money to support the work of Schoenberg. Berg and his wife, Helene, whom he married in 1911, became especially close friends of Alma over the years. (Later, after Alban's death, in 1935, Alma and Helene remained lifelong friends.)
Another good friend of Alma at this time was Henriette Amalie (known as 'Lilly') Lieser, the wife of an industrialist. Lieser was generous at points in helping Alma's friends: she underwrote a concert Schoenberg gave in Vienna in 1915, as well as, later, the printing costs for the score of Berg's opera Wozzeck, which Berg then, in gratitude, dedicated to Alma.
Other friends during these years included the art historian Josef Strzygowski and the prominent German writer Gerhart Hauptmann, both of whom Alma had come to know during her marriage to Gustav Mahler. Hauptmann and his wife Margarete became close friends of Alma over the years up until the Anschluss. Hans Pfitzner kept in close contact. A new acquaintance in 1916 was the writer Albert Trentini, with whom Alma briefly experienced an intense spark of emotional kinship; he remained a friend until his death of cancer in 1933.
In April 1912, at the home of her mother and stepfather, Alma met the struggling young artist Oskar Kokoschka, who was there at Carl Moll's request to paint Moll's portrait. Kokoschka's work had drawn Moll's attention at an exhibition of the Hagenbund, a Viennese association for contemporary art, in 1911.
While still a student at the Vienna school of arts and crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule), Kokoschka had caused some furor with his contributions to the Kunstschau exhibition organized by the Wiener Werkstätte (arts-and-crafts offshoot of the Vienna Secession) in 1908, and the performance, in 1909, of his eccentric play Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen, which came to be considered a key work of Expressionism. On these occasions Kokoschka delivered enough abrasive unconventionality to merit his expulsion from the school of arts and crafts. By this time he had found a friend and patron in the architect Adolf Loos, who had bought one of his Kunstschau works. Loos introduced him to important literary figures and helped him to obtain commissions as a portrait painter (among the numerous portraits that Kokoschka painted in the next few years was the one of the art historians Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat, friends of Alma). Kokoschka's first solo exhibition in Berlin in 1910 brought him to the attention of Karl Ernst Osthaus, director of the Folkwang Museum in Hagen, Westphalia, who showed Kokoschka's works there in the same year; and also Herwarth Walden, editor of the Berlin-based periodical Der Sturm, who regularly published Koskoschka's drawings from 1910 to 1912.
Within hours or, at most, a few days following her first encounter with Kokoschka, Alma had in her hands the "the most beautiful love letter and proposal"–which she reprints in her memoirs (the only letter of the preserved correspondence written with use of the formal German 'Sie'). This was the start of a three-year-long relationship–"one fierce battle of love," as Alma puts it  –that is richly documented not only in the copious flow of love letters from Kokoschka but also in his art, most famously, perhaps, in his expressive joint portrait of himself and Alma, Die Windsbraut ("Bride of the Wind"; also known in English as "Tempest"), and the series of seven painted swanskin fans, which he created for Alma between 1912 and 1914.
Alma and Kokoschka traveled to Italy together in the spring of 1913. By this time, he had gotten to know Alma's Gucki, who would on frequent occasions be taken to his studio to play, or watch him paint, and would call him 'Uncle Oscar.' Kokoschka's possessiveness and jealousy (even vis-à-vis the deceased Gustav), however, only grew in the face of Alma's resistance to commit herself in marriage, and the turbulence of the relationship wore on both of them.
Later in 1913 Alma had a country villa built in Breitenstein on Semmering, a small town in an idyllic setting along the Semmering mountain pass, at a remove but still within easy reach of Vienna. The second home at Breitenstein, which Alma would enjoy until 1938, was, in a way, a poignant legacy of her marriage to Gustav Mahler. He had purchased the plot of land there in 1910, around the time of the heart-rending crisis over Alma's infidelity. Alma's new house had a huge fireplace, over which Kokoschka painted a fresco depicting himself and Alma amidst flames, she gesturing heavenward and he hovering in the hellfire below. Kokoschka futilely objected to the ensconcing of Mahler's death mask in a place of honor at 'Haus Mahler,' as the home was called, and after an interlude of relative calm, tensions in the relationship escalated.
In May 1914 Alma gave up her apartment on the Pokornygasse and spent the summer at Breitenstein; in August she began to rent a 10-room apartment at Elizabethstrasse 22 (in Vienna's first district, the city center), which remained her Vienna residence until 1931. In spring 1914, Alma had begun to draw closer again–via letters–to Walter Gropius, with her inviting him to come for a visit at Breitenstein if he had time.
The decisive end of Alma's relationship with Kokoschka played itself out in the wake of the outbreak of World War I. Volunteering for service, Kokoschka secured a place in the elite regiment of imperial dragoons, an assignment to which he was helped by the influence of his friend Loos, and for which he needed to purchase his own horse; the sale of Die Windsbraut in December covered his expenses. He began military training at Wiener Neustadt, south of Vienna, shortly after New Year's, 1915; his letters over the next months testify to his continued insistence on the viability of his relationship with Alma and obliquely reflect what must have been sporadic and negatively couched replies from her side. In August 1915, in battle in the Ukraine, on the Eastern Front, Kokoschka was captured, after being so severely wounded that he was reported for dead–a false report, which, when it reached Alma via the newspapers, motivated her to retrieve from Kokoschka's studio (to which she still had a key) all her letters to him. By that time, unbeknownst to Kokoschka, Alma had already married Walter Gropius.
Kokoschka was decorated for his role in the action in which he was nearly killed. Several days after his capture, he was among a group of prisoners released, and while in the hospital suffering under the effects of a head wound, he continued to meditate on his relationship with Alma; during his convalescence, he wrote his play Orpheus und Eurydice. Later, in 1916, he was sent, as a liaison officer, to the Italian front, where he suffered shell-shock, and was released for another convalescence, this time in Berlin, and then in Dresden; he did not see any further active duty. After the war, in 1919, he took up a professorship at the Dresden Academy of Art, a post he held until 1924.
After the end of the war, when he was in Dresden, Kokoschka commissioned the Munich doll maker Hermine Moos to create for him a life-size doll resembling Alma in every possible way; in a lengthy correspondence during Moos's work on the project, he sent her paintings, drawings, and instructions, and the doll was delivered in spring 1919. Besides purportedly escorting his Alma-effigy to the opera and to parties, Kokoschka made many drawings of the doll and several paintings, including Selbstbildnis mit Puppe. The doll met its demise in the summer of 1920 when, during a drunken night of revelry with Kokoschka's friends, its head fell off, and it was subsequently discarded.
Alma's Marriage to Walter Gropius, 1915 to 1920
Born in Berlin, Gropius had studied at the technical universities in Munich and in Berlin, from 1903 to 1907, after which he worked in the Berlin office of the architect and designer Peter Behrens. In 1911 Gropius founded his own architectural firm in Berlin, together with Adolf Meyer, who had likewise been a student and employee of Behrens. In 1912 he joined the Deutscher Werkbund, an association of architects, designers, and industrialists founded in 1907 with aims of creating cooperation between art and industry. Gropius and Meyers worked on two projects together that brought them wide recognition: the Fagus-Werke (completed 1913), a factory building in Alfeld an der Leine (in Lower Saxony); and a model factory building for the Werkbund Exposition in Cologne in 1914. It was upon hearing of Gropius's success at the latter exhibition that Alma took the opportunity to write him a congratulatory letter and renew her correspondence with him.
Gropius, like Kokoschka, served with distinction in World War I. He was immediately called up as a reservist, and in September 1914 was awarded an Iron Cross for his role in an action in France that had landed him in a field hospital. After Kokoschka had gone off for his military training in January 1915, Alma visited Gropius in Berlin, where he was convalescing. It was an emotional meeting, which seemed to renew their old relationship.
Alma Mahler and Walter Gropius were married on 18 August 1915 in Berlin, while Gropius was on military leave, and at first Alma told no one about the marriage. She only began to speak of it around February 1916, when she discovered that she was pregnant. Over the course of the next two years, Gropius was on active duty, fighting in the trenches, and at home Alma, along with the rest of the civilian population, was increasingly experiencing the realities of wartime conditions on the domestic front. Their long-distance correspondence did little to ameliorate the tensions that arose, with each bearing different burdens in isolation from the other.
The daughter of Alma and Walter, Manon Alma Gropius, was born on 5 October 1916, in the absence of Walter, who had unsuccessfully tried to time a two-week leave to coincide with the birth. Walter's gift to Alma on the occasion of the birth was the painting Sommernacht am Strand by Edvard Munch.
Over the course of the next year, with Gropius mostly absent, on active duty in France, Alma, after regaining her health and energy, carried on a lively social life, often gathering visitors at her home on Elizabethstrasse. A new appearance in Alma's circle at this time was the writer and critic Franz Blei, founder of the Expressionist magazine Die weissen Blätter. Alma was not terribly fond of Blei, but when he got the idea to bring along the young poet Franz Werfel to meet her, she was interested. That was in November 1917, about three months after Werfel, who was serving in the Austrian military at the time, arrived in Vienna to work in the Military Press Bureau. Blei had gotten to know Werfel at the Viennese Café Central, a social meeting place for a variety of literary and cultural personalities, where Werfel had been introduced by his friend from Prague, Egon Erwin Kisch.
Alma was thrilled to meet the poet who had written the poem "Der Erkennende," which had so moved her when she read it, in 1915, that she had set it to music. Narrating the story of their first meeting in her memoirs, Alma refers to Werfel's "excessive love of humanity," and the way he speaks of his acute awareness of the suffering of any creature–sentiments that obliquely reminded her of Gustav Mahler. Moreover, Werfel loved Mahler's music and had wanted to meet her on that account. He also had "an extraordinarily beautiful speaking voice and a fascinating gift for oral delivery."
The Love Affair of Alma and Franz Werfel; her Divorce from Walter Gropius
After his first meeting with Alma in November, Werfel was a frequent guest at her home on Elizabethstrasse; they immediately made music together–she playing on the piano, he singing –and fell in love. By February 1918, Alma found herself pregnant, and, as it turned out, this was Werfel's child. At the end of July, with Gropius away on military duty, Werfel visited Alma in Breitenstein and, after a night of lovemaking, she began hemorrhaging. For several days her life was in danger, as well as that of her unborn child; on 2 August 1918 she gave birth to a son, who was baptized with the name Martin Carl Johannes.
Werfel's play Die Mittagsgöttin, which he called a 'fairy-tale drama' (Zauberspiel), reflects traces of his experiences in this early part of his relationship with Alma; the main characters are the 'earth-goddess' Mara, who attracts the vagabond Laurentin, transforms his life, and bears his child. The play was originally incorporated into Werfel's third book of poetry, Der Gerichtstag (Day of Judgment; 1919), which was mostly written in 1916, while he was stationed in Bohemia and Eastern Galicia.
Early on during Alma's recovery following the birth, Walter Gropius discovered the ongoing affair between his wife and Franz Werfel. A period of turmoil followed for all concerned. It quickly became evident that Alma was not going to stay in her marriage to Walter Gropius. At first, Gropius very much desired to take custody of their now two-year-old daughter Manon, but in the face of Alma's resolute refusal to agree to this, he eventually yielded to her. (The divorce of Alma and Walter Gropius became official on 20 October 1920.)
The end of the war coincided with the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and early in November 1918, Werfel became swept up in the brief flare of revolutionary activity in Vienna, joining the 'Red Guard' that had been founded, on the Bolshevik example, by his friend Egon Erwin Kisch. The signing of the armistice of 11 November, brought, as well, the abdication of Emperor Karl (who had assumed the throne upon the death of Emperor Franz Josef, in 1916), and the next day Kisch's group, including Werfel, gathered at the Parliament building to make their views known. A commotion ensued in which several people were killed or injured. Werfel was wanted by the police for questioning, and Gropius helped him avoid coming into difficulties. Alma disapproved of Werfel's part in these events, and it also went against the grain of opinions that Werfel expressed at other times about the role of the poet in society. (He wrote about this period in his life later in the novel Barbara oder die Frömmigkeit.)
The new baby, Martin, appeared to have weathered the difficult birth, but when he was four months old he developed hydrocephalus ('water on the brain'). Treatment was unsuccessful, and his condition worsened; he died on 15 May 1919.
That same spring, Walter Gropius was in the process of assuming leadership over a newly reorganized school of art and design in Weimar: the Bauhaus was officially founded in April 1919. Its program embodied his revolutionary ideas about bringing artists and society into dynamic new relationship in the context of modern industry and technology. The school attracted a prestigious faculty, including the Swiss painter Johannes Itten, a friend of Alma; and, later Wassily Kandinsky, with whom she also became acquainted.
Franz Werfel's Youth and the Beginnings of his Literary Career, 1890 to 1917
Franz Werfel was born on 10 September 1890 in Prague. His father, Rudolf Werfel (1857-1941), and his mother, Albine Werfel (née Kussi; 1870-1964), were German-speaking Jews; Franz was their first child. He was later joined by two sisters, Hanna (1894-1964; later Hanna Fuchs-Robetin) and Marianne ('Mizzi,' 1899-1965; later Marianne Rieser). Rudolf Werfel had been born in Jungbunzlau, in northern Bohemia (part of the German-speaking areas of the Czech lands later called 'the Sudetenland'), where his ancestors had been living for three centuries or more; he grew up in Prague, where, at age 25 he had founded his own glove-manufacturing business. Albine Werfel was the daughter of a prosperous mill owner in Pilsen, in western Bohemia.
At the time of Franz's birth, his parents lived in an apartment at Reitergasse 11, in Prague's New Town; in 1899 the family moved into a larger apartment on Hybernergasse (located in the Old Town section of the city). By the turn of the century Rudolf Werfel had formed a partnership with a brother-in-law, Benedikt Böhm, and the glove company thereafter was called Werfel & Böhm. It was a prosperous business, with branch offices eventually in London, Glasgow, Paris, Brussels and Berlin. Around 1903, the Werfel family moved again, to Mariengasse 41, in the most exclusive area of the city (in New Town), in the vicinity of the main offices of Werfel & Böhm.
Prague had been a multiethnic city for most of its thousand-year-long history, with Czech, German, and Jewish populations (as well as small minorities of other nationalities, such as Croatian and Hungarian); nevertheless, Czech nationality was overwhelmingly predominant. In 1890, the year Werfel was born, around 12% of the Prague population identified themselves as German speakers (the marker for nationality), and this figure had dropped to 7% by 1910. The Jews of Prague tended to identify with German culture and accounted for a significant proportion (as much as a third or more) of the German-identified population; some, however, identified themselves as Czech, especially in that era of growing Czech nationalism (at that time, the identification as 'Jewish' in the census data came into play only under the heading of religion, not as a nationality). Many Prague Jews, including Werfel and his friends Max Brod, Johannes Urzidil, and Otto Pick, knew both German and Czech and were interested in mediating between the two cultures. (In 1920, Werfel collaborated with Emil Saudek on German translations of poems by the Czech poet Otokar ezina, whom he greatly admired.)
In the decades following the founding of the modern Zionist movement by Theodor Herzl, in 1897, there was a growing, although still relatively small number of Prague Jews (mostly students and young professionals) who, as Zionists, asserted their Jewish identities by self-consciously supporting the development of a modern secular Jewish culture. Although Werfel never considered himself a Zionist, he was among the young Jews of Prague who were influenced by the ideas of the Viennese-born Zionist Martin Buber, who, in 1909 to 1911, gave his "Speeches on Judaism" there, hosted by the Prague student Zionist organization Bar Kochba. Werfel became personally acquainted with Buber, and they stayed in touch over the years, up until the time of the Anschluss. A number of other friends and acquaintances of Werfel who were active in the Zionist movement were Brod, Robert Weltsch, Siegmund Kaznelson, and Samuel Hugo Bergmann.
Werfel was educated in German-speaking schools. He attended a private school (Piaristenschule) run by the Piarists, a Catholic educational order, where most of the students were Jewish (the clergy who taught there were mostly of Czech origin), and after that, the Royal and Imperial German Gymnasium, and then the Royal and Imperial Stefansgymnasium. As part of the religious instruction given by a rabbi for the Jewish students at school, Franz learned to read and write Hebrew; when he turned 13, he had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
An important influence on Franz's cultural and spiritual outlook as he was growing up was his close relationship with the family's cook and nursemaid, a Catholic Czech woman named Barbara Šim (whom he called 'Bábi'); the title character of Barbara oder die Frömmigkeit –a woman who is the embodiment of Christian virtue and a guiding force in the life of one of the male protagonists–is modeled on her.
Franz and his family went to see plays and operas at the Neue Deutsche Theater in Prague, and they would attend the annual five-week-long May Festival organized by the theater's director, Angelo Neumann. An event that left a deep impression on Franz was the appearance, in 1904, of the acclaimed tenor Enrico Caruso at the May Festival, in Giuseppi Verdi's Rigoletto. Years later Werfel recalled what a profound impact Neumann's productions of Italian opera–including "the entire Verdi-repertoire"–had on him: "It seemed to me as if I were hearing music for the first time. I became a fanatic of Italian opera." He bought recordings of operas on phonograph records and knew many of the libretti by heart.
The love of music that was nurtured in Werfel during his childhood can be discerned as a deep principle in his literary work, and some of his writing was directly interrelated with his love of Verdi's music. He successfully rekindled interest in the composer with his re-working in German of Verdi librettos, including Simone Boccanegra, Don Carlos, and Die Macht des Schicksals (La forza del destino); his fictional account of the life of Verdi in his novel Verdi. Roman der Oper (1924); his editing (with Paul Stefan) a volume of letters of Verdi (Briefe, 1926); and his essays and speeches on Verdi.
As a boy, Franz loved the Wild West adventure stories of Karl May and read the weekly illustrated boys' magazine Der Gute Kamerad. Although he often struggled in school, he read widely; favorite works were Goethe's Faust, Byron's Manfred (in German translation), and the poems of Novalis, Hölderlin, Lenau, and Rilke. In translation he also read Walt Whitman, Jules Laforgue, and Dante. At age 14 or 15, he started writing poetry, which he would share with his friends, some of whom wrote as well, and they would criticize each other's work. His circle of friends from his school years included Willy Haas, Paul Kornfeld, Ernst Deutsch, Franz Janowitz (and his older brother, Hans Janowitz), Fritz Pollak, and Ernst Popper. (Werfel was deeply affected by the death of his poet friend Franz Janowitz in World War I.)
Werfel and Haas were friends since they were small children; although the same age, Haas seems to have played the role of a mentor in encouraging Werfel in his writing and urging him to revise, collect, and submit it for publication. Werfel's first poem to be published was "Die Gärten der Stadt Prag," which appeared in the Vienna daily Die Zeit in February 1908. Haas took the initiative to call on Max Brod and share Werfel's poems with him. Brod was several years older than Werfel and his friends and already a well-known author at this time; he subsequently became a good friend of Werfel and a supporter of his work.
Through Brod Werfel also came to know Franz Kafka. They were all part of a circle of friends who gathered at Café Arco, in Prague. The friends Werfel met there (many of them also poets and writers) included Otto Pick, Rudolf Fuchs, Johannes Urzidil, and Oskar Baum, as well as Ernst Polak (often known for having married Kafka's friend Milena Jesenská), who for many years to come would work closely with Werfel in responding to the manuscripts of his works and acting as an editor.
After Werfel's graduation from Gymnasium, he briefly attended courses at the university in Prague (Karlsuniversität), but since he did not show much diligence there, his father, eager to guide his son onto a secure path in life, found him an apprentice position in Hamburg with an import-export firm, Brasch & Rothenstein. That initiative, however, failed miserably: Werfel made no bones about shirking his duties, so that, after only a few weeks with the firm, in fall 1910, his employer came to an amicable agreement with him about his termination. He then stayed on in Hamburg for several months. A chance encounter in Hamburg with a Prague acquaintance, Maria ('Mitzi') Glaser, with whom he had previously been infatuated, inspired his one-act play, Der Besuch aus dem Elysium.
In Werfel's efforts during this time to interest a publisher in his first book of poems–tentatively entitled "Der gute Kamerad"–he was rejected by Ernst Rowohlt Verlag, in Leipzig, a new firm that had published avant-garde titles; he was also rejected, at first, by Brod's publisher, Axel Juncker, in Berlin, to whom Brod had recommended him. However, with the insistence of Brod (who threatened to withdraw his own work from the publishing house), Juncker relented. While revising, Werfel decided to call the book "Der Weltfreund."
In April 1911, while Werfel was still in Hamburg, he was astounded and thrilled to hear from the eminent critic Karl Kraus that he planned to publish several poems from Werfel in his journal Die Fackel (they appeared at the end of that month). In May, Werfel left Hamburg and returned to Prague. Then, in the fall–again, at the insistence of his father–he began his one-year voluntary military service; even though he now had a publishing contract, his father was still dissatisfied with his son's seeming lack of direction. Werfel underwent military training any Castle), in Prague, until September 1912. During that time he wrote another one-act play, Die Versuchung, which presents a poet in conversation alternately with Satan and an archangel.
When Der Weltfreund came out in December 1911, it was a huge success. The first edition–four thousand copies–quickly sold out, and the book had to be reprinted several times. Overnight Werfel became famous. Later, Urzidil described the strong chord that Werfel's poetry struck in his contemporaries: "His breakthrough into literature meant the enchanted transformation of the everyday into high romanticism. For us he was the pure lyric poet . . . . He wrested the poem away from what was then the determining influence of Hofmannsthal, Rilke and Stefan George, and gave it the axis of a living relationship to the world and to the human problems all around us; with a light hand he swept to the side all that was merely formal."
After the successful publication of Werfel's Weltfreund, Ernst Rowohlt and his partner, Kurt Wolff, showed new interest in the now acclaimed poet. Wolff invited Werfel to Leipzig and offered him a contract as both an author and an editor. Werfel accepted. Soon after, Wolff and Rowohlt agreed to split up; at the beginning of 1913, Wolff assumed sole proprietorship of the firm and renamed it Kurt Wolff Verlag. (Ernst Rowohlt subsequently founded Ernst Rowohlt Verlag anew in Berlin, in 1919.) Kurt Wolff Verlag remained Werfel's publisher until 1923.
That Werfel was now taking up a position as an editor helped reconcile his father to his son's literary path; in fact, from 1911 to 1912, while Franz was busy with his military training, Rudolf Werfel attended to the business interests of his author-son in correspondence with Juncker, Rowohlt, and Wolff. Werfel moved to Leipzig in October 1912. Besides his work at the publishing house, he began writing poems for a new collection he intended to call "Wir sind," attended some lectures at the university, and often dined out at Wilhelms Weinstuben, where he met Carl Sternheim, Frank Wedekind, Martin Buber, Kurt Hiller, and Else Lasker-Schüler.
The new friends with whom Werfel spent the most time were his two fellow editors, Walter Hasenclever and Kurt Pinthus, who were also writers. A project they developed together in early 1913 was the launching of a series of contemporary writing, to be published inexpensively, in slim paperback volumes. They called the series "Der jüngste Tag" ('Day of Judgment'), after a phrase randomly selected from Werfel's manuscript for a dramatic poem ("Das Opfer"), which he happened to have out. Werfel drafted advertising brochures for the series, and his own play Die Versuchung became the first volume; a play by Hasenclever, Das unendliche Gespräch, followed next.
Around this time, Werfel gave his first public reading in Prague. While he was home visiting, he renewed his friendship with Kafka, and they read aloud to each other from their works-in-progress. Kafka had a high regard for Werfel's poetry, and Werfel, who earlier had not been too impressed with Kafka's prose, had by this time developed an appreciation for it. Back in Leipzig, he conveyed his excitement about Kafka's work to Wolff. Under the title "Der Heizer," a chapter from the novel on which Kafka was working ('Der Verschollene'; posthumously entitled Amerika), was published as volume three of the Jüngster Tag series in May 1913.
As an editor in Leipzig, Werfel responded with great admiration to a submission of poems from an unknown young poet from Salzburg: Georg Trakl, whose book Gedichte, appeared later in 1913, as part of the Jüngster Tag series.
Upon the appearance of Werfel's second book of poetry, Wir sind, in 1913, he had the great pleasure of receiving an appreciative letter from Rainer Maria Rilke; yet their first personal encounter, when they met in October at the festival in Hellerau, near Dresden, was apparently disappointing on both sides. While in Hellerau, Werfel also met with the publisher Jakob Hegner (organizer of a theatrical performance at the festival), who inspired him to write his own adaptation of Euripides' Trojan Women, with the idea of viewing the play as a precursor to the Christian era. In his foreword to his play Die Troerinnen (1914), Werfel urges his readers to see "the infamous atheist Euripides as the harbinger, the heralder, as an early dove of Christianity."
At the beginning of 1914, Werfel's Prague friend Willy Haas moved to Leipzig, and Werfel helped him get a job as editor at Kurt Wolff Verlag. At this point, Werfel, Hasenclever, Pinthus, and Haas shared a large apartment on Haydnstrasse.
After Werfel left Prague in 1912 to work at Kurt Wolff Verlag, he never again returned there to live on a permanent basis. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia at the end of July 1914, Werfel, as a reservist, returned to Prague to join his regiment. By the time the end of the war arrived, Werfel had settled in Vienna for good.
Werfel was luckier than either Gropius or Kokoschka in his wartime experiences. Initially found unfit for duty, he served for the first time in April 1915, when he was assigned only light duty, in Bozen, in the South Tyrol, far from the front. Then he ended up spending several weeks in a hospital and then much more time at home in Prague convalescing, after incurring a serious leg injury in an accident unrelated to battle; several weeks after reporting to duty again and just before his unit was getting sent off to the front, he was released again because of the lingering effects of the leg injury. At this time, in November 1915, while he was at a Prague garrison hospital for examination, Werfel struck up a relationship with one of the nurses, Gertrud Spirk, who was from an Evangelical Lutheran family in Prague. Werfel subsequently courted her; they visited and corresponded with one another until the summer of 1918.
Upon returning to active duty, Werfel at first served in Elbe-Kostelec, near Prague, in May 1916; a month later he was transferred to Hodów near Jezierna, in Eastern Galicia, on the Eastern Front. He never served in the trenches but was, instead, assigned a relatively enviable post as telephonist for the regiment, behind the lines. In the meantime, Count Harry Kessler, with the support of other friends of Werfel, including Kurt Wolff, Annette Kolb, and René Schickele, was lobbying the military authorities to retrieve Werfel from ordinary duties altogether and to let him, instead, contribute to the defense of the fatherland through 'intellectual propaganda,' that is, by giving a tour of lectures and readings in Switzerland. These efforts came to fruition at the end of June 1917, just before a Russian offensive on the Eastern Front was expected. Approval for Werfel to tour in Switzerland was postponed (he went later, in January 1918); however, he was removed from the front and transferred to the Military Press Bureau in Vienna.
Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel, 1919 to 1938
Overview (family life, homes, travels, friends)
From 1919 Alma and Werfel lived a settled life together in partnership, although they did not marry until 1929. Alma had the attic in her Breitenstein home converted into a spacious studio for Werfel. She encouraged him to spend time there alone, so that he could write uninterrupted, when she was in the city, or away on trips. He composed many of his subsequent works there.
Music played a key role in the relationship between Alma and Franz. She tutored him in learning to read music and fostered his understanding of music theory. At the end of 1922, Werfel noted–in a sporadic diary he kept around this time ("Zufalls-Tagebuch")–that he had 'converted' Alma to Verdi's music, with their playing and singing together several Verdi operas (since her youth Alma had been an ardent fan of Richard Wagner) and that he was even dabbling in composing.
In 1922 Alma and Franz bought a house in Venice; after renovations, they spent part of the summer there in 1924. 'Casa Mahler,' as they called it, remained an additional home of theirs until 1935. They also sometimes stayed on the Italian Riviera, where their friends Gerhart and Margarete Hauptmann had a villa, in Rapallo; beginning in 1927, Werfel did much writing at the Hotel Imperial in Santa Margherita Ligure.
Alma and Franz traveled together to Egypt and Palestine in January and February 1925. For Werfel this trip stimulated a deeper engagement with his Jewish identity; subsequently, he refreshed his knowledge of Hebrew and read (in German translation) the Bible and the Talmud. The literary product ensuing from this period was his play Paulus unter den Juden, about the historical moment when the early Christian community broke away from its roots in Judaism.
On 27 June 1929, in Vienna, Franz Werfel officially withdrew from the Jewish community. After ten years of partnership, Alma had finally agreed to marry him; however, she had made his resignation from the Jewish community a condition. Taking this step made Werfel, from an official perspective, a person without an affiliation to any religious community. In the course of his life he increasingly expressed a spiritual affinity with Catholicism; however, he never converted. He regarded his continued identity as a Jew as a moral responsibility, especially in the face of the escalating persecution of Jews in the 1930s. On 6 July 1929, Alma and Franz were married in a civil ceremony at the Vienna City Hall.
In January and February 1930, the Werfels traveled to the Near East a second time; after visiting Egypt and Palestine, they went on to Syria and Lebanon. While they were in Damascus, they encountered impoverished, sickly children laboring in a carpet-weaving factory, whom they learned were orphans of Armenians massacred by Turks during the First World War under the Ottoman Empire. Following this trip Werfel decided to research those events and was assisted by his and Alma's friend Count Gaston Clauzel, the French ambassador in Vienna, who provided documentary materials. From this research emerged his famous historical novel Die vierzig Tage des Musa Dagh (1933).
In 1931 Alma and Franz bought the 'Villa Ast,' designed by Josef Hoffmann, at Steinfeldgasse 2 on the Hohe Warte, in the same elite neighborhood where Alma's mother and stepfather, Anna and Carl Moll lived. Here, in the following years until the Anschluss, they hosted grand parties as well as smaller gatherings of friends. Their social circle included writers, artists, musicians, theater people, politicians, and members of the nobility.
In 1934, following the assassination of Engelbert Dollfuss, the Werfels' friend Kurt Schuschnigg became Chancellor of Austria. He established an authoritarian Catholic regime to which both Alma and Werfel gave their vote of confidence, seeing it as a bulwark against the encroachment of German Nazism.
An especially close friend of Alma during the 1930s was Father Johannes Hollnsteiner, a professor of theology at the University of Vienna, whom she met in 1932, shortly after her re-conversion to Catholicism. (Alma, who was baptized a Catholic, had converted to the Evangelical Lutheran faith in 1900, at the time that her sister Grete had married the Protestant Wilhelm Legler; Alma's father was Catholic and her mother was Protestant.) Hollnsteiner was the personal confessor of Schuschnigg and politically well connected.
Alma and Franz made their first trip to the United States when they traveled to New York in 1935 in order to be present for the rehearsals of Max Reinhardt's Broadway production The Eternal Road, a biblical drama for which Werfel had written the text (Der Weg der Verheissung), and Kurt Weill the music; the project had been initiated by the American producer and Zionist Meyer Weisgal. Due to production difficulties the opening of the show was delayed, and Alma and Franz returned home after a three-month stay in New York. (The show finally opened in January 1937 and was well received but closed early because it failed financially.)
Anna Mahler (1904-1988)
Alma's daughter Anna played the piano and was deeply musical; in 1919 she began to paint and draw. She studied painting with Giorgio de Chirico in Rome in 1924 and then studied further in Paris in 1927 and 1928. In Vienna, around 1930, she studied sculpture with Fritz Wotruba and subsequently established a career as a sculptor. In 1937, at the Paris World Fair, she was awarded the Grand Prix for her sculpture of a female nude. In the 1950s and early 1960s, she had exhibitions at museums and galleries in California and Arizona.
Anna was only 16 years old when, in the fall of 1920, she married the conductor Rupert Koller, whose family had a neighboring house in Breitenstein; the marriage broke up after a period of months. She then moved to Berlin, where, in 1922, she met the young composer Ernst Krenek; they married in January 1924 but had parted ways by the end of the same year. Through Alma and Franz, Anna met the publisher Paul Zsolnay, whom she married at the end of 1929. They had a daughter, Alma (b. 1930), and divorced in 1935. After the Anschluss, in 1938, Anna emigrated to England and settled in London, where she met the Russian Jewish conductor Anatole Fistoulari, whom she married in 1943. They had a daughter, Marina (b. 1943), were together until around 1949, and later divorced. In the 1950s Anna developed a relationship with Albrecht Joseph, a German-born theater director. He had worked as Werfel's secretary from 1941 to 1944 and then became a filmcutter; they married in 1970.
Manon Gropius (1916-1935)
In 1920 Alma had hired, as a nurse for Manon, the 25-year-old Agnes Ida Gebauer (called 'Ida,' or 'Schulli'), who stayed with the family for many years to come. Manon was known affectionately as 'Mutzi.' A schoolfriend of Manon, Susi Kertes, who was an aspiring actress, became a close friend of the family. Manon, too, had an interest in acting.
In April 1934, while staying at the Werfels' home in Venice, Manon contracted poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis, or polio) and became nearly totally paralyzed. She was transported back to Vienna and spent the next year in a bed or wheelchair, visited by many friends, including the young politician Erich Cyhlar, who apparently courted her. She died on 22 April 1935. Alban Berg famously dedicated his Violin Concerto (1935), his last completed work, to Manon, 'in memory of an angel.' Shortly after her death, Werfel began to write two saints' legends, with Manon in mind; they remained unfinished and were published posthumously. The memory of Manon left many other traces in Werfel's subsequent work, and he also later memorialized her in an essay, "Manon."
More about Werfel's literary career from 1919 to 1938
Working at Breitenstein in 1919 Werfel wrote his first novella, Nicht der Mörder, der Ermordete ist schuldig, a father-and-son tragedy, as well as a number of stories, fairy tales, and essays. He continued to work on his play Spiegelmensch, a three-part 'magical trilogy,' about a protagonist with a Mephistophelian alter-ego, 'Mirror Man'; Spiegelmensch (1920) opened to poor critical reviews in 1921. He fared better with his next play, Bockgesang (1921), the title of which derives from the literal translation of the Greek word for tragedy, 'goat-song.' Another play, Schweiger (1922), followed. Werfel's plays often combine psychological and political themes. His next play, Juarez und Maximilian (1924), a historical drama about the Habsburg emperor of Mexico, was a great critical success and brought him the esteemed Grillparzer Prize.
In 1923, with encouragement from Alma, Werfel made his start as a novelist, undertaking a fictionalized account of the life of Verdi. The resulting novel, Verdi. Roman der Oper (1924), became the first publication of the newly founded Paul Zsolnay Verlag–an enterprise that was fostered by Alma, in conjunction with Zsolnay's mother, Amanda ('Andy') Zsolnay, who was an acquaintance of Alma. Paul Zsolnay remained Franz Werfel's publisher until the Anschluss and continued a friendship with him and Alma later on as well.
After Verdi, Werfel steadily produced new novels, along with novellas and short stories. His next novel, Der Abituriententag (Class Renunion; 1928), a story framed by the occasion of a 25th-year class reunion celebration among a group of graduates of a Gymnasium in Prague, has an autobiographical basis and takes up a theme to which Werfel often returns: the tension and interrelationship between Judaism and Christianity. The inspiration for Die Geschwister von Neapel (The Pascarella Family; 1931) was provided by an encounter that Alma and Werfel had in Genoa in 1929 with Tina Orchard, a native of Naples who related to them the remarkable life histories of herself and her siblings, who struggled under the dominion of her austere father. In this and other prose works, such as the novella Der Tod des Kleinbürgers (The Man Who Conquered Death; 1927), Werfel displays an engaging realistic style, and a concern to illuminate social developments. He turned to the historical-biblical material of the book of Jeremiah for his novel Höret die Stimme (Hearken unto the Voice; 1937).
Werfel's novel Verdi was the first of his works to be translated; it was marketed in English by Simon & Schuster. Besides the publication of translations, Werfel also became further known in the United States through the production of two of his plays on Broadway by the Theatre Guild: Goat Song and Juarez and Maximilian, both in 1926.
In the mid-1930s, the English-language rights to Werfel's works were transferred to Viking Press, which published his novel about the Armenian massacres, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. The book had been banned by the Nazi regime, costing Werfel a major market. Ben Huebsch of Viking became a close friend and advisor to Werfel in the subsequent years.
As the political developments in Europe became ever more threatening in the 1930s, Werfel increasingly turned to expository and exhortatory expression of his own religiously-founded Weltanschauung in speeches and essays. Two major speeches (later published as essays)--"Realismus und Innerlichkeit" (Realism and Inwardness) and "Können wir ohne Gottesglauben leben?" (Can We Live without Belief in God?)--which he first gave in Vienna in 1931 and 1932, he subsequently delivered on a tour of German cities. A third major speech was "Von der reinsten Glückseligkeit des Menschen" (Of Man's True Happiness; given in 1937, in Vienna). His "Essay upon the Meaning of Imperial Austria" (translated from the German, "Ein Versuch über das Kaisertum Österreich" ), which he wrote as an introduction to a collection of his novellas in English translation, Twighlight of a World (1937), mythologized in a nostalgic way the many-cultured framework of the bygone Habsburg Empire.
Alma's activities and relationships in the world of classical music
In spring 1920, Alma's long-time acquaintance, Willem Mengelberg, who was celebrating his 25th anniversary as conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, organized the first Mahler Festival. Alma and her daughter Anna were guests of honor. Alma was royally fêted, and she made a gift to Mengelberg on this occasion of the manuscript of Mahler's Seventh Symphony. Throughout the rest of her life, Alma enjoyed a special status as Mahler's widow, in the context of events dedicated to his musical legacy.
Back in Vienna, Alma also continued to be actively engaged in current musical developments. She and Werfel attended the long-awaited premiere of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, conducted by her old friend Franz Schreker; and, in the next year, Alma hosted in her home two performances of Schoenberg's Pierre Lunaire. As she did throughout her life, she struck up new relationships in the musical world, nurtured old ones, and served as a mediator of musical talent and interests. Her friendships with conductors and composers through the 1920s and 1930s included long-time friends such as Hans Pfitzner and Otto Klemperer, who had known and admired Gustav Mahler; as well as more recent friends, such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Darius Milhaud, and Hermann Scherchen.
In 1923 Alma engaged the young composer Ernst Krenek (then courting Anna Mahler) to edit the sketches of Gustav Mahler's unfinished Tenth Symphony; Krenek reconstructed the first and the third movements, and the resulting work was premiered by the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of Franz Schalk, in October 1924.
In that same year, Paul Zsolnay Verlag brought out the volume Gustav Mahler. Briefe, 1879-1911, a selection, prepared and edited by Alma, of correspondence between Gustav Mahler and his friends and associates. Alma was also writing another book, entitled, in manuscript, "Mein Leben mit Gustav Mahler," consisting of a narrative and a selection of letters to and from Mahler (many of them letters to Alma). It was later published, in 1940, by Allert de Lange, as Gustav Mahler. Erinnerungen und Briefe.
Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel in Exile, 1938 to 1945
In March 1938 when Schuschnigg resigned as chancellor and German troops marched into Austria, Werfel was on the island of Capri, where he and Alma had been vacationing. Upon hearing of Hitler's meeting with Schuschnigg in Berchtesgaden, Alma had gone back to Vienna alone in order to tend to their affairs. Werfel's biographer Peter Stephan Jungk summarizes the impact of the Anschluss on the Werfels' milieu: "Two days after Hitler's entry into Vienna, Werfel's friend Egon Friedell had taken his life by throwing himself out of the window of his apartment. Kurt von Schuschinigg had been arrested immediately. Csokor, Zuckmayer, Horváth, and most other members of Werfel's circle of friends left Austria within hours; all who began their flight too late were captured and disappeared into prisons and concentration camps."
Subsequently, Franz and Alma met in Milan and traveled together to Rüschlikon, Switzerland, near Zurich, to visit Werfel's sister Marianne and her husband, Ferdinand Rieser (then director of the Zürcher Schauspielhaus), who had a villa there.
At the end of April 1938, Franz and Alma traveled, via Paris and Amsterdam, to London, where they saw Anna Mahler. Deciding not to settle in England, they arrived back in Paris in June 1938. While staying in St. Germain, outside of Paris, Werfel suffered a mild heart attack, the first indication of the serious health problems that subsequently plagued him in his exile years. By the end of July, Alma and Franz had moved into quarters in an old Saracen tower ('Le Moulin Gris') in Sanary-sur-mer, a fishing town on the Côte d'Azur, near Marseille; this became their permanent residence in exile until May 1940.
Many émigrés had settled in France at this time. Friends and acquaintances with whom Alma and Franz Werfel spent time, either in Sanary-sur-mer or in Paris, during their years of exile in France included: Bertha Zuckerkandl; Ödön Horváth (who died in Paris in 1938); Guido and Riccarda Zernatto; Bruno and Elsa Walter; Fritz and Friederike von Unruh; Annemarie ('Busch') Meier-Graefe; Lion and Marta Feuchtwanger; Thomas and Katia Mann; Heinrich and Nelly Mann; Erwin Piscator; Ludwig Marcuse; Ernst Bloch; Franz Léhar; Wilhelm Herzog; Robert Neumann; and Conrad Lester. French friends whom they saw included Count Clauzel, Milhaud, and Paul Géraldy. In addition, Hilde Stiele, an old acquaintance of Werfel, had been living there for many years; Edmond and Madeleine Fleg lived nearby; Grete Weil, who had settled in Amsterdam, visited at some point and photographed Werfel; and Arnold Zweig, who had already emigrated to Palestine, visited France around this time.
The path of Franz Werfel's family in exile
Werfel's parents, Albine and Rudolf Werfel, were still living in Prague in 1938, as was his sister, Hanna, and her husband, Herbert Fuchs-Robetin, a Prague businessman. Werfel's parents left Prague and arrived in Zurich at the end of November 1938, after Hitler had annexed the 'Sudetenland' areas of Czechoslovakia. Hanna and Herbert Fuchs-Robetin finally left Prague and arrived in Zurich at the end of April 1939. The Fuchs-Robetins emigrated to London, England, around 1940, where they spent the war years; in 1946 they succeeded in emigrating to the U.S. and lived in New York City. Ferdinand Rieser gave up his leadership of the Zurich theater, and he and Marianne, who was also a playwright, emigrated to the U.S. around 1940 and settled in New York City. After the war, they returned to Zurich, where Ferdinand died in 1947; Marianne subsequently returned to the U.S. and lived, at first, in New York City and later in California.
In 1939 Albine and Rudolf Werfel moved to France, where they resided in Vichy, then Bergerac, and finally Marseille, where Rudolf Werfel died of natural causes in 1941, while they were awaiting passage to the United States. (From America Franz Werfel and his sister Marianne were frantically trying to secure the emigration of their parents.) Albine Werfel was able to emigrate shortly later and settled in New York City.
Alma and Franz Werfel in their flight out of France, 1940
At the end of May 1940, Alma and Franz dissolved their household in Sanary-sur-mer and, from that point on, were in constant flight, trying to assemble the necessary papers they needed to emigrate to the United States via Spain and Portugal. For two weeks they were in Marseille applying to consulates; when the German army entered Paris on 14 June, they decided to head toward the Spanish border even without all the necessary visas. With difficulty they made their way to Bordeaux, in western France, and then to different localities in the vicinity of the Spanish border–Biarritz, Bayonne, Hendaye, and St. Jean-de-Luz–only to find that they were no closer to their goal. In Biarritz they had met up with a friend of Werfel from Prague, Vicky Kahler, and his wife, Bettina. When German troops advanced as far as Hendaye, Kahler managed to obtain a taxi and some fuel, and the two couples made their way to Orthez, then to Pau, and, finally, to Lourdes, which was said to be the only place where lodgings might be available. At this point their goal was to obtain safe-conducts in order to travel back to Marseille, which now--once again--seemed to hold their best hope for emigration. In Lourdes they indeed found lodgings in the Hôtel Vatican. The town's reputation as a Catholic pilgrimage destination stems from the visions of the Virgin Mary reported in 1858 by a poor 14-year-old miller's daughter, Bernadette Soubirous, who was subsequently canonized (in 1933) as St. Bernadette, the patron saint of sick persons and of Lourdes. During the several-weeks-long stay in Lourdes, Werfel famously made a vow to write a book in honor of St. Bernadette, if he successfully escaped to America.
Arriving back at Marseille, Alma and Franz stayed at the Hôtel Louvre & Paix and managed to obtain new transit visas for Spain and Portugal, as well as visitors' visas for the U.S. Still lacking the proper exit visa, they were finally helped by Varian Fry, the emissary of the Emergency Rescue Committee, a private American relief organization; Fry expedited the emigration of many prominent intellectuals who were endangered refugees in Vichy France. In order to evade the French border officials, an associate of Fry led Alma and Franz Werfel, together with Heinrich and Nelly Mann, and Golo Mann (son of Thomas Mann), across the Pyrenees by foot, while Fry took their luggage across the border. That arduous journey across the mountains, on 12 September, took several hours, and when they arrived at the Spanish border they had the good luck to be admitted by the officials there. The group then traveled on to Port Bou, then Barcelona, and Madrid. From there they flew to Lisbon, where, on 4 October they boarded the Greek steamship Nea Hellas. They finally arrived in New York harbor on 13 October 1940.
Alma and Franz Werfel in the U.S., 1940 to 1945 (overview)
While in New York, Alma and Franz stayed at the St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South. Among the fellow émigrés whom they saw around this time were the Feuchtwangers; Carl Zuckmayer and his wife, Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer; the Walters; Hermann Broch; and Alfred Döblin. At the end of December they moved to California, where, with the help of their friends Adolph Loewi and his wife–antiquities dealers whom they had known in Venice–they found a house at 6900 Los Tilos Road in Hollywood Hills. They employed August Hess, a German-born former operetta singer, as a butler and chauffeur; Hess became a good friend and remained with them over the next years.
In March 1941, Alma and Werfel traveled into Mexico in order to re-enter the United States as immigrants, after the expiration of their visitors' visas. They then applied for U.S. citizenship. That month an interview with Werfel was featured on the NBC radio show, "I'm an American," run by the U.S. Department of Justice.
With the success of Werfel's works in the U.S., he and Alma were able to purchase a house in Beverly Hills. In the fall of 1942 they moved to 610 North Bedford Drive.
In southern California Alma and Franz Werfel had social ties with many of the numerous German-speaking émigrés who had settled there, including Heinrich and Nelly Mann; Thomas and Katia Mann; Golo Mann; the Feuchtwangers; Döblin; Marcuse; Erich Maria Remarque; Schoenberg; Erich Wolfgang and Luzi Korngold; Julius Korngold (Erich's father); Bruno and Liesl Frank; Fritzi Massary; Max Reinhardt; Gottfried Reinhardt (Max's son); Ernst and Anuschka Deutsch; Conrad Lester; Raoul and Irene Auernheimer; Emil Ludwig; Lotte Lehmann; Alfred and Katherine Neumann; Joseph and Elly Reitler; and Harold and Helen Byrns.
The Viennese writer Friedrich Torberg quickly became a close friend of both Franz Werfel and Alma. Gustave O. Arlt, a German literature professor at the University of California Los Angeles, and Gusti, his wife, became especially close friends of Alma over the years. Two Catholic clergyman, also émigrés, were among their best friends as well: Georg Moenius and Cyrill Fischer. Both advised Werfel and provided him with notes and materials about St. Bernadette and about Catholic ritual, as he was composing Das Lied von Bernadette.
In 1941 Werfel hired Albrecht Joseph as a secretary; Joseph worked with Werfel until late 1944, or early 1945. William W. Melnitz served as Werfel's secretary in the last months of Werfel's life, in 1945. Melnitz, a German-born theater director and refugee from Nazi Germany, later became a professor of theater arts and then a dean at UCLA.
Franz Werfel's literary career in exile, and his death in California
When Werfel and Alma traveled to London in May 1938, Werfel met there with the publisher Gottfried Bermann Fischer, who had left S. Fischer Verlag in Germany and was establishing publishing operations in exile, in Stockholm. Since the future of Paul Zsolnay Verlag in Vienna, was uncertain, when Bermann Fischer offered Werfel a publishing contract, he accepted. Bermann Fischer remained Werfel's publisher from that point on. (Later, Bermann Fischer re-established S. Fischer Verlag in West Germany in the postwar period.)
The first work that Werfel published with Bermann Fischer was his novel Der veruntreute Himmel (1939), which he had written in Sanary-sur-mer. Days after Werfel's arrival in the U.S., in 1940, the American edition of that book, Embezzled Heaven, was chosen as the Book-of-the Month Club selection, assuring him a good financial return. In correspondence with his friend and editor Ernst Polak (in exile in London), Werfel summarized the subject matter of the work as "death and the hereafter." (A stage adaptation starring Ethel Barrymore had a short run on Broadway in 1944 to 1945.)
In late fall 1940, while Werfel was still in New York, he gave interviews and speeches, including "Can We Live without Belief in God?" which he delivered at Columbia University. Much of the work for which he became known in the U.S., in fact, had a religious bent. His biggest success was the novel that he wrote in fulfillment of his vow in Lourdes, Das Lied von Bernadette, which he completed in summer 1941 and dedicated to the memory of his stepdaughter Manon. Contrary to his expectations, the American edition of the book, The Song of Bernadette, published the following spring, was chosen as a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and became a bestseller. Twentieth Century Fox purchased the film rights, and the then unknown young actress Jennifer Jones won an Academy Award for her starring role in the film, which opened in 1943.
Another novel on which Werfel had labored in 1938 to 1939, in France–entitled in manuscript "Cella oder die Überwinder" (Cella or the Survivors)–remained unfinished; however, in 1942 he revised a chapter of the work for publication, and it appeared in English translation in Harper's Magazine as "The Crooked Cross" (Die Geschichte vom wiederhergestellten Kreuz).
In June 1942 Werfel began to do much of his writing in Santa Barbara, at the Biltmore Hotel, in a bungalow by the ocean. There he worked on his play Jacobowsky und der Oberst (Jacobowsky and the Colonel), which he subtitled 'The Comedy of a Tragedy.' A story of a Polish Jewish refugee fleeing from the Nazis in Vichy France, it draws from Werfel's own experiences in 1940, as well as the experiences related to him by the Stuttgart banker S. L. Jacobowicz, a fellow refugee whom he met in Lourdes. The play was eventually produced, with much success, by the Theatre Guild on Broadway, from 1944 to 1945, with the Austrian émigré actor Oscar Karlweis playing Jacobowsky. Yet Werfel's public success with the work belied his struggles over the translation and adaptation of the play for the American audience and his serious misgivings about the final product. He collaborated at various points with Clifford Odets, Jed Harris, and S. N. Behrman on the adaptation; Behrman ultimately received credit for an 'original play' based on Werfel's work.
Werfel increasingly took a stance in his works as a defender of spiritual values or a 'metaphysical' dimension, in what he viewed as an age of materialism–or, more precisely, 'realism,' the umbrella term he chooses in his speech "Realism and Inwardness"; by either term he meant "not a formal ideology, but the general intellectual trends associated with names like rationalism, realism, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis." Although he was loyal to his Jewish identity, he viewed the Catholic Church as "the purest power and emanation sent by God to this earth to fight the evil of materialism and atheism"; he seemed to straddle Judaism and Christianity. His last work to appear before his death, the prose collection Between Heaven and Earth (1944), contains a collection of aphorisms, "Theologumena," which addresses–at times–the relationship between the two religions. In early 1944 the National Conference of Christians and Jews awarded him an honorary citation for "the promotion of amity, understanding and cooperation," among cultural groups in the United States.
In the spring of 1943, Werfel began writing his mystical and philosophical time-travel novel Der Stern der Ungeborenen (The Star of the Unborn). Work on it was interrupted not only by the stressful Jacobowsky production but also by a string of severe heart attacks in 1943 and 1944, which left him unable to work for long stretches of time. In July 1944 he was well enough to continue work on the novel in Santa Barbara, this time in a cottage at Hotel El Mirasol; at that point he was constantly accompanied by his personal physician, Bernard Spinak. Werfel completed the first draft of the novel in the summer of 1945.
In the meantime, the war had come to an end. In May 1945, when Germany surrendered unconditionally, Werfel's message to the German people ("Botschaft an das deutsche Volk") was cabled to Germany by the U.S. Office of War Information, for distribution in German newspapers.
Although Werfel is often considered to have been at his finest as a lyric poet, his poetry was little known in the United States. (A selection of his poems in translations by Edith Abercrombie Snow, an American acquaintance and admirer of Werfel, was published in a bilingual edition in 1945.) Werfel was preparing a selection of his poems for a German edition and was at work revising the poem "Der Dirigent" (The Conductor), when he suffered a fatal heart attack at his desk in his home in Beverly Hills, on 26 August 1945.
Alma Mahler's Later Years, 1945 to 1964
In the aftermath of Werfel's long-presaged but nevertheless sudden death, Alma at first threw herself into finishing his unfinished work. She and Werfel's secretary, William Melnitz, worked together from Werfel's manuscript for Stern der Ungeborenen to produce a typescript for publication; the book appeared posthumously in early 1946. Alma also tended to the publication of Werfel's Gedichte, Aus den Jahren 1908-1945, the selection of poems he had been preparing when he died; it came out in a private printing by Pazifische Presse in Los Angeles in 1946. A typescript for Werfel's unfinished novel Cella was produced at some point as well.
At the end of 1945 Alma traveled to New York City for a visit. She bought the building at 120 E. 73rd Street, which she rented out, eventually reserving two floors for herself. She began to live in New York on a permanent basis in the early 1950s and sold the house in Beverly Hills.
After the end of the war, Alma learned that her stepfather, Carl Moll, and her half-sister and her brother-in-law, Maria and Richard Eberstaller, who had all been supporters of Nazi ideology, had died by their own initiative, in a murder-suicide pact, as Russian troops were entering Vienna. (Alma's mother, Anna Moll, had died in 1938, after Alma's flight from Vienna.) Alma began to correspond with her nephew Willi Legler (her sister Grete's son) in Vienna, who attended to a variety of matters on her behalf, including the taking of inventory at her two houses, the ordering of repairs, and the mediation of legal matters. Her house on the Hohe Warte had been extensively damaged by allied bombing during the war.
At this time, it came to light that property rightfully belonging to Alma had been appropriated in various ways by her family. Most significantly, her cherished Munch painting, Sommernacht am Strand (the gift from Walter Gropius upon the birth of Manon), which she had given on loan to the Austrian Gallery (Österreichische Galerie, formerly called the Moderne Galerie) had been sold to the museum by her stepfather, at an unsuitably low price, ostensibly to pay for repairs to her house in Breitenstein. Other property, including paintings by her father, Emil Jakob Schindler, had been bequeathed, through the will and testament of Richard and Maria Eberstaller, to Eberstaller's heir, his brother Theodor.
Alma traveled to Vienna in September 1947 (with Ida Gebauer accompanying her) to visit and take stock of her properties. In the claims for her inheritance and for restitution of property, which she subsequently pursued in the Austrian courts, her right to the most valuable item, the Munch painting, was denied. Alma remained preoccupied with the case until the end of her life. Because of her bitter feelings about the failed outcome of her claims for restitution, Alma never again visited her home city of Vienna, after her single postwar visit there in 1947, although, as Gustav Mahler's widow, she was honored on different occasions with invitations soliciting her presence.
In the coming years Alma continued to play a public role in connection with the musical legacy of Gustav Mahler. When Eugene Ormandy conducted Mahler's Eighth Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl in 1948, she was a guest of honor at the rehearsals and performance, accompanied there by Thomas and Katia Mann and by Bruno Walter. She was consulted and her participation sought upon the founding of the Internationale Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft in Vienna in 1955. In honor of the centenary of Mahler's birth in 1960, the British Broadcasting Corporation sought her permission to allow the Mahler scholar Deryck Cooke (assisted by Berthold Goldschmidt) to produce a fully reconstructed version of the symphony from Mahler's sketches. She gave her approval to this project and a partial version of the symphony was conducted by Goldschmidt for the radio program; against her initial reservations, Alma subsequently authorized Cooke's version of the symphony for future performances.
Newer friends during these years included Benjamin Britten, Ludwig Bemelmans, Thornton Wilder, William Steinberg, F. Charles Adler, Delia Reinhardt, Gottfried von Einem, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Ernest Bloch, Charlotte Berend-Corinth (widow of Lovis Corinth), Paul Nettl, Kathe Berl, Count Friedrich Karl Zedlitz-Trützschler, Leopold Stokowski, and Igor and Vera Stravinsky. Adolf Klarmann, professor of German literature at the University of Pennsylvania, also continued to be a good friend of Alma Mahler during these years. Professor Klarmann had been friends of both Franz Werfel and Alma since at least 1936, when he visited them in Vienna and in Breitenstein, while conducting research about the works of Werfel.
Alma Mahler died in New York on 11 December 1964.
 It is commonly reported that Grete's father was not Schindler but a colleague of his, with whom Anna had an affair. Grete later married the painter Wilhelm Legler (1875-1951), and they had a son, Wilhelm ('Willi') Legler (1902-1960). She suffered from depression and became mentally unstable; she was institutionalized, around 1913. She and her husband divorced, and she died in an institution.
 Alma Mahler, Mein Leben (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1960), 17; translations from the German, when not otherwise attributed, are by the author.
 Alma Mahler, Mein Leben, 13, 20, 16.
 Alma Mahler, Mein Leben, 16.
 Mein Leben, 14.
 Mein Leben, 28.
 And the Bridge Is Love (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1958), 98.
 Alma Mahler-Werfel, Tagebuch-Suiten 1898-1902, ed. Antony Beaumont and Susanne Rode-Breymann (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1997), 653 ff.
 Astrid Seele, Alma Mahler-Werfel (Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch, 2001), 38-39; Tagebuch-Suiten, 660-662, 694, and 668.
 Oliver Hilmes, Witwe im Wahn. Das Leben der Alma Mahler-Werfel (München: Siedler, 2004), 62; Ein Glück ohne Ruh'. Die Briefe Gustav Mahlers an Alma, ed. Henry-Louis de La Grange and Günther Weiß, with Knud Martner (Berlin: Siedler, 1995), 49-50.
 Alma Mahler-Werfel, Tagebuch-Suiten, 723-724. Cf. Alma's memoir on Mahler, Gustav Mahler. Erinnerungen und Briefe (Amsterdam: Allert de Lange, 1940), 9-12; and, in English translation, Gustav Mahler. Memories and Letters, trans. Basil Creighton (London: John Murray, 1968), 3-6.
 Qtd. in English translation in Henry-Louis de La Grange, Gustav Mahler, volume 2, Vienna: The Years of Challenge (1897-1904) (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995), 448-452; here 451-452. Cf. Glück ohne Ruh, 104-11; here 108-111.
 Alma Mahler-Werfel, Tagebuch-Suiten, 745; entry on 21 December 1901.
 Memories and Letters, 176. Cf. Erinnerungen und Briefe, 214-215; Mein Leben, 48.
 La Grange, Weiß, and Martner, Glück ohne Ruh', 464-465. Mahler writes in the letter that Alma is completely revived and working diligently, having "produced a couple of charming new songs that testify to a great progress."
 Typescript made at the direction of Alma Mahler (my translation from the German), folder 1449; cf. photocopy of the original letter (held at UCLA), folder 1488.
 Alma Mahler, Two Lieder, ed. Filler (Bryn Mawr, PA: Hildegard Publishing, 2000).
 "Einsamer Gang," autograph manuscript, dated 16 September 1899, folder 1895.
 Susanne Rode-Breymann, Die Komponistin Alma Mahler-Werfel (Hannover: Niedersächsisches Staatstheater Hannover, 1999), 136-139.
 Memories and Letters, 42; cf. Erinnerungen und Briefe, 56.
 La Grange, Mahler, volume one (Garden City, NY: Double Day, 1973), 13. La Grange notes that Bernhard Mahler held office in the Jewish community in 1878; 841, n. 25.
 Henry A. Lea, Gustav Mahler. Man on the Margin (Bonn: Bouvier, 1985), 91-116.
 Peter Franklin, The life of Mahler (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997), 76.
 Tagebuch-Suiten, 586; entry of 18 November 1900.
 Susanne Keegan, The Bride of the Wind. The Life and Times of Alma Mahler-Werfel (London: Secker & Warburg, 1991), 102-103. Cf. Tagebuch-Suiten, 751; and Memories and Letters, 29, 43.
 Erinnerungen und Briefe, 55; Mein Leben, 40.
 Memories and Letters, 41-42; cf. Mein Leben, 68-69.
 See the correspondence from Pfitzner in 1946, folder 931.
 Memories and Letters, 45.
 La Grange, Gustav Mahler, volume 2, 562.
 Memories and Letters, 116; Mein Leben, 40 (first ellipsis in original), 41.
 In a brief overview of her life with Mahler for a radio program in his memory, in 1955, Alma specifically mentions just three of his friends, and Picquart is one (the other two being Richard Strauss and Arnold Schoenberg); l.p. recording, folder 1877.
 Folder 307.
 Bridge, 73-74; cf. Mein Leben, 56-58.
 See the overview, above, on Alma's composing, in the section about her youth.
 Bridge, 93.
 Letter (in German) to Count Ugo D'Albertis, 11 July 1937, folder 220.
 Adolf D. Klarmann, Musikalität bei Werfel, Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1931.
 "Café,Arco,'" Prager Tagblatt, 6 December 1925, clipping filed with correspondence from Urzidil, folder 1263; my translation from the German.
 Die Dramen, volume one, ed. Adolf D. Klarmann (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1959), 548.
 See musical sketches thought to be from Werfel, folder 1898.
 See the certification on a 1904-issued birth certificate, in Memorabilia, folder 1667.
 "Die Fürbitterin der Tiere" and "Die Fürbitterin der Toten," Zwischen Oben und Unten, 756-773; and 773-783.
 Erzählungen aus zwei Welten, ed. Adolf D. Klarmann, volume 3 (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1954), 392-399; first published in English translation in The Commonwealth, in 1942.
 Franz Werfel. A Life in Prague, Vienna, and Hollywood, trans. Anselm Hollo (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990), 170.
 Qtd. in Jungk, Franz Werfel, 181.
 Lionel B. Steiman, "Observations on Werfel's Exile," Modern Austrian Literature 24.2 (1991): 72.
 Letter to Joseph Francis Rummel, Archbishop of New Orleans, 17 October 1942, typescript carbon, folder 1038; original in English. Excerpts from this letter were reprinted in the American media (with Werfel's implicit approval) in early 1943; see clippings, folder 1694.
 See memorabilia, folder 1673; and clippings, folder 1695.
 Reprinted in Zwischen Oben und Unten, 626-627.
 Cella oder die Überwinder was first published in German newspapers, in serialized form, in 1952, and then in Erzählungen aus zwei Welten, volume 3.
The Mahler-Werfel Papers at the University of Pennsylvania contain materials from all phases of the long and varied life of Alma Mahler, as well as much valuable material pertaining to the literary work of Franz Werfel, including autograph manuscripts of most of his major prose and dramatic works, and of a significant portion of his poetry. The collection comprises 101 boxes of correspondence, writings, and memorabilia; 15 boxes of photographs; six boxes of audio recordings; and one box of oversized materials. Also included are 11 boxes of materials pertaining to Professor Adolf Klarmann's research and writing on Werfel; to Werfel scholarship contributed by other researchers; and to Klarmann's editorial work in producing the collected works of Werfel.
The main Correspondence series includes some 1400 folders and over 1200 correspondents. The overwhelming majority of the letters date from after 1930 and, especially, after the exile of Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel from Austria, upon the Anschluss in 1938. Many earlier items were undoubtedly lost due to the circumstances of exile. Also, the house in Vienna, which Alma and Franz left behind in their flight and where many of their things were still stored, was extensively damaged by allied bombing during World War II. From an alternative perspective, the circumstances of exile and war become precisely the occasion for many of the letters that make their appearance in the collection from 1938 on. Many friends with whom Alma and Franz had been in regular contact in Vienna now gave report of themselves by mail. This phenomenon was especially the case after they arrived and settled in the United States in the fall of 1940. During the war years, they received letters from fellow exiles in far-flung places: Vichy France, England, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Algeria, Iran, Palestine, India. Some of the correspondence of those years also reflects the fact that Werfel, as a writer of great renown, was called upon to participate in diverse political, cultural, and relief efforts of émigré groups, whether by writing an essay, by serving on a committee, or by lending his name to a public declaration. On a personal level, he and Alma were petitioned by friends and acquaintances for help in such matters as immigration, publishing contacts, and funding possibilities.
Letters of friendship during the exile period chronicle the letter-writers' daily lives in new places and, often, the struggle to survive and make ends meet under difficult conditions. A colleague of Werfel with whom he and Alma corresponded and whom they helped in various ways was the politically-active writer Hermann Borchardt, who had settled in New York City. Franz Theodor Csokor's letters reflect his stays in Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Italy during his exile years. In Algeria, Bertha Zuckerkandl was pursuing her journalistic work in French.
With regard to the exile experience during the Nazi era, the identity documents of Franz Werfel assembled in the Memorabilia series, including his Czech passport, his French identity card, and various safe-conducts, are valuable and revealing. Also included is the French identity card of Werfel's fellow refugee Stefan Jakobowicz, whose story provided the inspiration for Werfel's play Jacobowsky und der Oberst.
The relatively small amount of correspondence from the earlier period, before 1930, fall roughly into three major categories: typescripts produced at the direction of Alma Mahler of letters from good friends and/or from friends whom she considered especially noteworthy; photocopies of letters from and to (but mostly from) Franz Werfel, gathered from diverse archival sources thanks to the diligent efforts of Professor Klarmann; and scattered occurrences of original items. The typescripts referred to here were produced by Alma for a manuscript that she entitled "Meine Freunde" (My Friends); these are actually tantamount to original items, since almost without exception the letters from which the typescripts were made are (so far as is known) no longer extant. Besides the content of the letters themselves, the typescripts are interesting in the context of considering Alma's selection of correspondents and for her handwritten annotations, which, in addition to brief explanatory notes and references, on occasion give her reflections on the correspondent and on her relationship to that person.
Two additional sets of typescripts produced at Alma's direction represent the copious correspondences from Alexander Zemlinksy, concentrated in 1901 but extending, as well, into the 1920s, and from Oskar Kokoschka from 1912 to 1916.
As far as the items related to Franz Werfel in the early period, before 1930, in addition to some significant correspondences made accessible here in the form of photocopies (those with his early publishers, Axel Juncker, Ernst Rowohlt, and Kurt Wolff; caches of letters to his friends Max Brod, Alice Rühle-Gerstel, and Albert Ehrenstein; and his many letters to Gertrud Spirk during their courtship), there are a few noteworthy pockets of original items–for instance, from Else Lasker-Schüler, Martin Buber, Kurt Hiller, and the lesser known writer Elsa Asenijeff.
Also not to be overlooked in the early period are a few isolated original items related to Gustav Mahler: a poetic text ("Symphonisches Fragment") and accompanying letter sent to him in 1883 on the occasion of his twenty-third birthday by his close friend, the archaeologist Fritz Löhr; several letters that Mahler wrote to Anna von Mildenburg (later Bahr-Mildenburg) in the mid-1890s, when they were both at the Hamburg Opera (and one letter from her to him); and two items to Mahler from Prince Montenuovo at the time that Mahler was negotiating his departure from the Vienna Court Opera in 1907.
The correspondence in the later, post-1930 years includes sizeable documentation of Werfel's professional as well as personal relationships with his publishers, especially his German publishers Paul Zsolnay and Gottfried Bermann Fischer; in the U.S., Ben Huebsch (at Viking Press), as well as the partners Richard Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster, who were Werfel's first American publishers; and, in England, Hamish Hamilton and Jarrold Publishers. In the case of Bermann Fischer, the correspondence also gives significant glimpses into the struggles of the German publishing industry in exile and in the immediate postwar period.
In connection with Werfel's extraordinarily successful literary career during his American years, correspondence in the 1940s includes contacts with theater people; agents; translators and adaptors of his work; magazines and anthologists interested in contributions; and organizations inviting him to lecture. (The correspondence of this sort, related to Werfel's literary career, also continues after his death, with Alma Mahler attending to matters related to new editions or adaptations of Werfel's works.) There is a sprinkling of letters from fans responding to his works, especially his novel The Song of Bernadette; some of those letters are from Catholic clergy and sisters, as well as American servicemen. Correspondence concerning the making of the film based on that novel (produced by Twentieth Century Fox) is sparse; mainly, friends of Werfel who had hoped to participate in the film (but ultimately did not) correspond with him (Ludwig Hardt, Ernst Krenek, Fritz von Unruh); and other friends and acquaintances write with their personal responses to the film. Concerning the Broadway play Jacobowsky and the Colonel, based on an adaptation of Werfel's drama, his correspondence with Clifford Odets is noteworthy, as well the correspondence from the attorney Leon Kaplan, written on Werfel's behalf, regarding the claim of Gottfried Reinhardt for credit in the genesis of the work; Werfel's letters to S. N. Behrman and to Lawrence Langner and Theresa Helburn at the Theatre Guild are included in the form of photocopies of originals held at UCLA.
In the years 1941 to 1945, when Werfel employed secretaries to assist him (first Albrecht Joseph and later William Melnitz), there are sometimes carbon copies of typed letters from him, occasionally with his initials or signature.
Ranging from the earlier period through the 1930s and continuing on into the later years, after Werfel's death, an important dimension of the correspondence relates to Alma Mahler's friendships and contacts with individuals active in the arts, especially composers and conductors–many of them admirers and interpreters of Gustav Mahler's work–and music scholars and critics, as well as artists and writers. In the period before 1930 many of these friendships are represented by the typescripts of Alma's manuscript "Meine Freunde"–for instance, Arnold Schoenberg, Hans Pfitzner, Julius Bittner, Otto Klemperer, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Arthur Schnitzler. Later correspondence files that contain a significant numbers of original items include Schoenberg, Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Fritz Stiedry, Harold Bryns, Carl Zuckmayer, Felix Salten, Fritz von Unruh, and Thornton Wilder.
Among the correspondences arising from personal friendships (of either Alma or Franz, or both) and not yet mentioned in one of the above contexts, a few are longstanding and also contain many original items, such as the files for Helene Berg, Julius Tandler, Willy Haas, Friedrich Torberg, Luzi Korngold (wife of Erich), Father Johannes Hollnsteiner, Father Georg Moenius, Father Cyrill Fischer, and Kurt Schuschnigg. Significant correspondences with family members that might be similarly characterized are those with Alma's daughter Anna Mahler; Alma's mother and stepfather, Anna (Schindler) Moll and Carl Moll (those folders include many original items addressed to Anna and Carl from other correspondents); Alma's nephew Wilhelm ('Willi') Legler; Werfel's sisters and brothers-in-law, Hanna and Herbert Fuchs-Robetin, and Marianne and Ferdinand Rieser; Werfel's, mother, Albine Werfel; and Paul Zsolnay (son-in-law of Alma following his marriage to Anna Mahler) and his mother, Amanda ('Andy') Zsolnay.
A thread of correspondence and a group of documents in the Memorabilia series relate to Alma's legal case for restitution, which she was pursuing in the Austrian courts from 1947 on (with special concern for reclaiming her Munch painting Sommernacht am Strand); the lawyers whom she engaged at various points included Otto Hein, Hans Gürtler, Friedrich Weissenstein, and Georg Weisl. Anton Klement was an Austrian government official involved in the case, and Kurt Frieberger was another official to whom she turned for help. Her friend Otto Kallir offered advice and assistance, and her nephew Willi Legler tended to many matters for her in Vienna in the immediate postwar period.
Some correspondence written by Alma Mahler is included: photocopies of items held at other institutions (for instance, her letters to Walter Gropius and those to Margarete and Gerhart Hauptmann); a number of handwritten drafts of letters; occasionally, carbon copies of typed letters; and the originals of her many letters to Adolf Klarmann.
The main Correspondence series also includes correspondence to and from Adolf Klarmann and, on occasion, letters to or from Klarmann's wife, Isolde (or Adolf and Isolde jointly). In the later years, after Werfel's death, Klarmann sometimes writes on behalf of Alma Mahler. More often, Klarmann's correspondence pertains to his own research on and publications related to Franz Werfel; correspondents include publishing companies (primarily S. Fischer Verlag and Langen Müller); scholarly journals; archives as well as individuals in possession of letters of Werfel; and other scholars. In the case of this professional correspondence, Professor Klarmann frequently kept carbon copies of his own typed letters, and these are included. Many of his correspondences reflect friendship as well, especially those to Franz Werfel and Alma Mahler, as well as to Anna Mahler and Albrecht Joseph, Willy Haas, Friedrich Torberg, William Melnitz, and others.
Worthy of note are some manuscripts of literary, musical and artistic works given to either Alma Mahler or Franz Werfel. These are often found in the Correspondence series; some of these items are in the Memorabilia sub-series "Gifted Manuscripts"; and some are in the Oversized box (series X). Among these items are music manuscripts dedicated to Alma and given to her by Alexander Zemlinsky, Fritz Stiedry (both in the Oversized box), Werner Wolf Glaser, and Karl Wiener (the latter two, in Correspondence); a bound manuscript of two songs based on poems by Werfel, composed by the young Dika Newlin under the guidance of her teacher Arnold Schoenberg, and presented to Werfel in honor of his 50th birthday (in Correspondence, and a partial draft in the Oversized box); a drawing by Klimt 'purloined' by Alma in 1900 and inserted into her diary (in the Oversized box); and pen drawings by the artist Gloria Shapiro, illustrating a poem by Werfel and sent to Alma as a gift in the early 1960s (in Correspondence). In a number of cases, manuscripts of literary works, essays, or speeches are included in correspondence, sometimes with dedications (for instance, Franz Theodor Csokor's play Kalypso, and Father Georg Moenius's memorial speech upon Werfel's death).
Following the main Correspondence series, a second, smaller Correspondence series pertains to letters exchanged between Alma and Franz Werfel. This series contains very few original items (there are a dozen handwritten letters to Werfel from Alma, all in 1918). Whereas Werfel's many handwritten letters to Alma (concentrated in the period from 1918 to the early 1920s) are held in the archive at UCLA (available here in the form of photocopies), the holdings unique to the Mahler-Werfel collection comprise typescripts made at Alma's direction of almost all of Werfel's letters to her, for a projected published volume, which was never realized; Alma's correspondence with Friedrich Torberg indicates that she was considering such a publication and produced the typescripts around 1949. The typescripts bear Alma's notes on the place and date of the letter (Werfel did not date very many of his letters) and some annotations by her.
The series of Writings by Alma Mahler includes not only her handwritten diaries from her youth, which have now been published nearly in their entirety (including reproductions of Alma's drawings, as well as some of the inserted items), but also manuscripts of two different diary-style memoirs, which document her life through to the later years in the United States. These are evidently 'precursors' to her published memoir, Mein Leben (S. Fischer, 1960), which was ghostwritten by Willy Haas. Presumably these manuscripts were also the materials upon which the earlier English version of the memoir, And the Bridge Is Love (Harcourt Brace, 1958), was based; that book was ghostwritten by E. B. Ashton. Oliver Hilmes, in his recent biography of Alma Mahler, Witwe im Wahn, Das Leben der Alma Mahler-Werfel (Siedler, 2004), makes extensive use of these manuscripts and provides a helpful capsule assessment of them in his introduction.
Two major unpublished manuscripts are included in the series of Writings by Alma Mahler: "Zwischen Zwei Kriegen," a short novel with strongly autobiographical elements; and the essay "Die Februarrevolte," a memoiristic account of Austrian politics in the inter-war period.
Musical compositions by Alma Mahler are located in the Oversized box (series X). Most significant are three manuscripts of songs that remained unpublished in Alma's lifetime. Two of them are printed manuscripts with handwritten emendations; versions of these have recently been published. The third is an autograph manuscript that has not yet been published.
In the series of Writings by Franz Werfel, the holdings are most significant with regard to autograph manuscripts of a majority of his dramas and prose works. In many cases these are in final form and have been bound. Bound autograph manuscripts of dramatic works include Spiegelmensch, Bockgesang, Juarez und Maximilian, Paulus unter den Juden, Das Reich Gottes in Böhmen, and Der Weg der Verheißung, as well as the Verdi libretto Simone Boccanegra. Noteworthy also is the manuscript in notebooks of Werfel's unfinished novel "Cella", written in Sanary-sur-mer; and the third and final version of Jacobowsky und der Oberst (not bound). Of the novels, the holdings include bound autograph final versions of Verdi. Roman der Oper, Barbara oder die Frömmigkeit, and Die vierzig Tage des Musa Dagh, as well as early versions of Die Geschwister von Neapel, Höret die Stimme, and Das Lied von Bernadette. In the case of Höret die Stimme, the manuscript contains elaborate pencil drawings by Werfel in the early pages. Two of the novels, Verdi and Barbara, are represented by both an early and a late version. With regard to Werfel's shorter prose, all of his major novellas and stories are represented.
In the Poetry sub-series of Werfel's writings, at least half of the holdings comprise autograph manuscripts. The index provided in this guide should prove useful in locating holdings with regard to specific poems or collections; also included in the index are references to the locations of drafts of poems contained in the notebooks.
In the Notebook sub-series of Werfel's writings, the holdings include eight complete or partial notebooks. These notebooks are mostly devoted to drafts of poems, although a few of them contain shorter prose pieces or fragments of dramas. Werfel used notebooks extensively in sketching out his works, and a large number of them survive; these eight are only a fraction: many more are held in the Werfel archive at UCLA.
The Memorabilia series includes a variety of items related primarily to Alma Mahler, Franz Werfel, and Gustav Mahler, as well as to Alma's parents, and one item related to Manon Gropius. The collection of memorabilia comprises such items as identity documents; programs; playbills; personal and household items (calling cards, stationery, pocket calendar, items that hung on the wall in the home); miscellaneous keepsakes (maps, blank postcards); and newspaper and magazine clippings.
Photographs may be viewed online.
In the series Adolf Klarmann Files can be found copies of Professor Klarmann's writings on Werfel; his research notes, including notes on interviews and notes taken during trips to archives; and materials related to his editorial work on the collected works of Werfel. In addition, a series of tape cassettes documenting a seminar on Werfel given by Klarmann at the University of Pennsylvania can be found in the series Audio Recordings.
The series Audio Recordings also includes interviews with Alma Mahler, as well as interviews with Adolf Klarmann and Friedrich Torberg concerning Franz Werfel; and recordings of Alma's songs and of Franz Werfel reciting his own poems.
Endnotes (Scope and Contents)
 That item is filed with the Memorabilia related to Werfel's literary career, folder 1670.
 See folder 1581 for the title page of this manuscript and a list of the 21 correspondents.
 Tagebuch-Suiten 1898-1902, ed. Antony Beaumont and Susanne Rode-Breymann (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1997).
 Hilmes gives his impressions of the novel; Witwe im Wahn, 376-378.
 See the discussion of "Alma Mahler as Composer" in the Biography in this guide.
Gift of Anna Mahler; Lady Isolde Radzinowicz received 1970-1979; 1979-1980.
For a complete list of the 1,223 correspondents, do the following title search in Franklin, Penn's online catalog: Mahler-Werfel Papers.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Violet Lutz
- Finding Aid Date
- The Mahler-Werfel Papers were processed with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
The Mahler-Werfel Papers may be examined by researchers in the reading room of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. There are no restrictions on the examination of material in this collection. Permission to quote from and to publish unpublished materials must be requested in writing from a curator from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and from the literary executor of the collection.