Politik

Oliver Hilmes sticker kniven i Alma Mahler i Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler

alma mahler

Alma Mahler, född Schindler i Wien år 1879 och död 1964 i New York, är den mest kända kvinnan från det gamla kulturella Wien.
Hon var själv tonsättare och konstnär, men har blivit mest känd för sina äktenskap med Gustav tonsättaren Gustav Mahler, arkitekten Walter Gropius och den expressionistiske författaren Franz Werfel. Som om inte det var nog så hade hon också kärlekshistorier med så gott som hela det österrikiska kulturetablissemanget, bl.a. med Gustav Klimt, Max Burckhard och kompositören Alexander von Zemlinsky.

Nu har Oliver Hilmes, en ung tysk historiker omvärderat Alma Mahler i en synnerligen läsvärd bok.

Bee Wilson recenserar Oliver Hilmes märkliga biografi över Alma Mahler i London Review of Books: She gives me partridges

In the song ‘Alma’ – written soon after her obituaries appeared in December 1964 – Tom Lehrer imagines all modern women being jealous of her ‘for bagging Gustav and Walter and Franz’. How did she do it? At first, at least, she had great beauty. As a young woman, Alma Schindler, Emil’s oldest daughter, was said to be ‘the loveliest girl in Vienna’, with lustrous dark hair and a self-confident gaze. She had her first kiss aged 17 with Gustav Klimt, while travelling in Genoa. Klimt found her beautiful but also something more: ‘She has everything a discerning man could possibly ask for from a woman, in ample measure; I believe wherever she goes and casts an eye into the masculine world, she is the sovereign lady, the ruler.’ These sovereign qualities lasted long after her looks had faded. When Elias Canetti met her in 1933, he observed an ‘inebriated individual, who looked much older than she was’, large and overflowing, ‘with a cloying smile and bright, wide-open, glassy eyes’. Yet still she drew men to her, like mosquitoes around a lamp, as she once put it. In 1933, she was juggling her marriage to Werfel and a new love affair with a Catholic priest called Johannes Hollnsteiner: ‘Until now,’ she wrote in her diary, ‘he has never encountered womankind.’ Meanwhile, Werfel remained tied to her, almost against his will. He hated her infidelity and her anti-Semitic outbursts – ‘we’re tearing one another to shreds,’ he lamented in one letter – but somehow always came back for more.

Innan Oliver Hilmes kom in på scenen så hade Alma Mahler mest setts som en begåvad kvinna som levde i ett manssamhälle där hon aldrig fick chansen att själv jämföra sig med andra kompositörer. För Oliver Hilmes är hon inte alls så positiv eller ens nedtryckt.

Vilket gör boken läsvärd och intressant.

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