To imply that Alma Mahler-Werfel had an affair with Gropius because he was Aryan is an unnecessary cheap shot. Two of her three husbands were Jews, and she was forced to flee Austria with Franz Werfel. It was a narrow escape; he later depicted it in his play Jacobowsky and the Colonel.
Now, what I don't understand--Mr. Schiff is so scholarly that he mentions Otto Weininger for no discernible reason... so why can't he get the name of the Habsburg empire right?
Furthermore, the remark that Mahler "was more culturally German than narrowly Austrian" doesn't make any sense at all. "Austrian culture" didn't exist in Mahler's times. The Habsburg monarchy was a multi-ethnic state that encompassed Central and Southeast Europe, and culture followed language. If somebody spoke German, no matter where he (or she) was born, then he was culturally German. For example: both Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Hasek were born in Prague, but Kafka was culturally German (German was his first language and he wrote in German), whereas Hasek was culturally Czech.
This ambivalent character of the Habsburg empire can be confusing, but it is crucial to understanding fin de siècle Vienna as the birthplace of modernity. For all his musical expertise and name-dropping, Mr. Schiff obviously does not understand it.
Maple Ridge, BC, Canada
Jul 13 2009 - 1:47am