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Gustav Mahler: Letters to his Wife Paperback – 6 Oct 2005

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Gustav Mahler: Letters to his Wife + Alma Mahler-Werfel: Diaries 1898-1902
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (6 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571212093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571212095
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Are Collected Letters a superior form of biography? When as numerous and meticulously edited as these of Gustav Mahler, when they provide a time capsule ride back to the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the answer must be yes... This remarkable book is unputdownable, even for a non-Mahlerite'. Literary Review 'A vivid and telling portrayal of Mahler's personality in his voice.' Times Literary Supplement 'The letters are linked by a commentary that makes the volume both an easy and gripping read... There is passion in this book to scald the hand.' Sunday Times

Book Description

Gustav Mahler: Letters to his Wife presents the remarkable and intimate letters of the hugely renowned composer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RR Waller TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
For those interested in Mahler, the man, to shed some light on the genesis of his challenging music, this is an ideal collection. Carefully edited and organised in a scholarly fashion, it contains a wide range of his letters and other material, e.g. a few entries from her diary. Essentially quite a private man despite his public life, his conducting and other duties, it builds an interesting picture covering a long period of his life.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a terrific book, however it contains two sections that are filled with photographs and illustrations. These are printed on very high-quality paper. My copy has two sections that are identical... The plates are called out in the first few pages of the book and my copy appears to be missing the first set of plates. Instead, I have two sets of the second set of plates. Bottom line, my copy is missing all the early years photos of Mahler which is a major disappointment for me. As I'm a USA customer, I was hoping Amazon.CO.UK would just send me another copy, but looks like they want me to box this copy up and return it first. Not really worth the trouble, but be warned. This looks like a production line issue and I'd bet mine is not the only defective copy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter on 4 Nov 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book I've received got some mistake.The pictures between page 116 to page 117 are exactly the same to those Between page 292 to 293. All are the pictures from no.33 to no.61. I couldn't find pictures from no.1 to no.32. As a reference book, it's terrible!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Mahler's Muse 4 Mar 2005
By Melanie Gilbert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In "Letters to his Wife," the reader is privy to the intensely private and somewhat ordinary reflections of the extraordinary composer/conductor, Gustav Mahler.

But that very ordinariness is what makes this book so fascinating: that alongside genius lies its twin of conventionality expressed in those unguarded moments between intimates. The collection of letters span just over a decade: From Mahler's courtship of Alma Mahler in 1900 until his tragically early death at age 50 in 1911.

You get the sense that Mahler felt he had nothing to prove to his wife as the correspondence deals with everyday issues and concerns such as eating and sleeping habits, bowel troubles and the loneliness of life on the road. The letters also convey a deeply confident and uncompromising man who takes immense joy in writing his wife about his personal world while at the same time dismissing her from his professional one.

The power in this collection comes from the slowly but steadily growing tension that the reader senses from Alma Mahler (whose letters are not included but whose feelings can be discerned through Mahler's) against her clueless husband which culminates in her betrayal through infidelity. With his emotional sense of security violently violated, Mahler's letters completely unravel and come across as hesitant and pandering. Within the year, he was dead.

Mahler's musical genius has already been well-documented. What this book documents - in Mahler's own hand - is the important role Alma's unconditional love and emotional support played in his life and work, too. He underestimated her to his ultimate peril.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Alma was no angel--except in Mahler's mind 8 Mar 2008
By Mr John Haueisen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection of 350 letters and telegrams from composer Gustav Mahler to his wife, Alma, illustrates the good and bad points of a fortunate and unfortunate marriage.

It is a very fortunate marriage for lovers of Mahler's unique and beautiful music. The music might never have been written had he not married his idealized image of a one true love. Alma was not his inspiration--it was his idealized view of her that, despite her behavior, kept him going. She did not understand, or even enjoy his music, but she did enjoy the celebrity position of being married to the greatest conductor in a world that worshipped music. Fortunately, Mahler was never able to bring himself to see her shortcomings. He had made up his mind that superficial beauty (at least in Alma's case) equaled virtue, and he projected virtue onto everything that Alma did.

It was an unfortunate marriage in that, at the age of 22, marrying a man nearly twice her age, Alma had not had a chance to develop character and direction for her own life. She very much enjoyed being in the spotlight of fame, yet she had never earned any of it for herself. After Mahler's death, Alma continued this pattern of getting into the limelight by "hooking-up" with famous people. She married, or had affairs with architect Walter Gropius, artist Oskar Kokoschka, novelist Franz Werfel, composer Alexander Zemlinsky, and various others.

While this behavior kept her in the top circles of Viennese society, it simultaneously prevented her from ever doing anything notable on her own. It was an unfortunate marriage for Alma. It was what she wanted, but with it, she ceased all personal growth. It was "A Fortunate and Unfortunate Marriage."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Inside Mahler 8 Feb 2013
By Stephen Jablonsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous book, especially when heavily discounted as was mine. Fascinating read provides insight into the mind of the great genius. Too bad his wife destroyed her letters in response. Listen to his music while you read and it gets even better.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Insightful look into the Mahlers's marriage 12 Jun 2013
By Amy S. Drake - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This book features insightful information about Gustav Mahler's life, work and relationships. The letters provide interesting details about Gustav's travels as he related them to his wife. His descriptions of people places and events are fascinating. The book also provides a look into how Gustav and Alma related to each other. The commentary illustrates how Alma's journals deviated from actual events. I highly recommend this book to Mahler fans and scholars.
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