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Passionate Spirit: The Life of Alma Mahler Kindle Edition
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"A well-rounded portrait of an imperious woman and her eventful life."―Kirkus Reviews --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B07MPPZ7BP
- Publisher : Basic Books; Illustrated edition (September 10, 2019)
- Publication date : September 10, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 35331 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 307 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0465096719
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #275,870 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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When WW2 started, she had to flee from her homeland, Austria, to France and then to the USA. She was a woman who had many personal tragedies (she lost three of her four children at an early age each) and died at the ripe age of 86 in New York after having had many strokes .
The author used many new sources, hitherto unknown and gives many details about the cultural, political and social times that were in the backgroud of her life during the 20th century. So far, so good.
However, this book has some points which merit to be called controversial. In my view, the authors' insistence that Alma's legacy was in the many compositions she left is dubious. One can hardly talk about her as being a composer.
Second, there are some errors, for example a photo following page 320 where Otto Klemperer is called a composer. This was never so. There are some more inaccuracies .With all this said, one can enjoy this book , if you are interested in a light read.
Top reviews from other countries
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"For Alma's seventieth birthday on 31 August 1949, Gustave and Gusti Arlt asked her friends to contribute to a leather-bound book of appreciations. Seventy-seven people - companions from every stage of her life - responded, including Kurt von Schuschnigg from his exile in St Louis, the writers Carl Zuckmayer, Freanz Theodor Csokor, Lion Feuchtwanger, Heinrich Mann, Fritz von Unruh; composers Benjamin Britten, Ernst Krenek, Darius Milhaud, Igor Stravinsky; conductors Erich Kleiber, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski and Bruno Walter. Willy Hass, Werfel's boyhood friend, sent a tribute to this 'timeless woman' with her keen mind', 'unfailing helpfulness', and her charm, who 'beautified the lives of everyone who has had the honour of loving and honouring you'. Walter Gropius wrote from Cambridge, England, 'Past and present join together! Heartfelt thoughts!'
"Schoenberg was not present but he composed a birthday canon based on the text: 'The centre of gravity in your own solar system circled by glowing satellites, this is how your life appears to the admirer.' ... Thomas Mann was unusually effusive as he praised 'the joyful stimulation that exudes from your personality, a human nature in female form, a great woman..." (p.379 of the book)
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Alma's life really feels like a soap opera cast against one of the most tragic episodes of modern history. To read her life is to read a brief timeline of the German-Austrian art and political events from the turn of the century until after the war. But this biography itself is much more than name-dropping. The portrait of a struggling woman before the age of femininity is through and through. The opinions taken from her immediate family and friends circle are well balanced. Direct reference to her own often disputable account is careful and always cross referenced with other sources whenever possible. Overall it's a very satisfying read.
The only bone in the chicken that I can pick is that the central thesis - "music was the voice through which she could express her passionate spirit. Her own music is her lasting, and living, legacy" - was not at all fully explored. Merely one page at the very end of the book to summarise Alma's life-long work in music. There is no systematic analysis on her style and influence. But then Cate Haste is not a specialist on musical history, nor is Alma Mahler's feet only deep in music. Alma was controversy itself, and she is best served that way. A definitive statement doesn't do justice to her. So maybe the book is better off without the last page that gives the feeling of being snatched up at breakfast on the day it was sent to print, as Puccini often did.