Anna Mahler


Anna Mahler

Anna Justine Mahler (15 June 19043 June 1988) was an Austrian musician and sculptor.

Born in Vienna, she was the daughter of the composer Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma Schindler. They nicknamed her 'Gucki' on account of her big blue eyes ("Gucken" is German for 'peek' or 'peep'). Her illustrious father died when she was only seven, and her mother immediately sought to make up for the time when her own artistic and emotional ambitions had been suppressed by her marriage. The house became a centre for intellectual and cultural life in Vienna, and Anna, stifled, may have been driven into an early marriage at the age of sixteen just to get away.

The marriage, on November 2 1920, to a musician, Rupert Koller, ended within months, and soon Anna moved to Berlin and fell in love with Ernst Krenek the composer, who later was asked by Alma to finish Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. Anna married him on January 15 1924, but that marriage too failed, and she already left Krenek for good in November 1924.

She discovered at the age of twenty-six that sculpture was the medium in which she could best express her creativity. Having taken lessons in sculpting in Vienna in 1930, she became an established sculptress there, and was awarded the Grand Prix in Paris in 1937. April 1939 found her living in Hampstead in London and advertising in the newspaper for pupils, having fled Nazi Austria. She married (December 2, 1929) the publisher Paul Zsolnay, and they had a daughter, Alma (August 4, 1930). Again the marriage failed (1934), and on March 3, 1943 she married the conductor Anatole Fistoulari with whom she had another daughter, Marina (August 1, 1943).

After the War, she travelled to California and lived there for some years. In the mid 1950s, while married to Fistoulari, she appeared on the radio quiz show "You Bet Your Life." It is probably at this point in her life that she married (in 1970) her fifth husband, Albrecht Joseph (1901-1991), a Hollywood film editor and writer of screenplays. After her mother died in 1964, Anna, now financially independent, returned to London for a while before finally deciding to live in Spoleto in Italy in 1969. In 1988 she died in London, while visiting her daughter Marina there.

Apparently she once said that she had found true love with her last husband but had left him at the age of seventy-five in order that they might both progress, since they spent too much time looking after each other.

As well as sculpting successfully in stone, Anna Mahler produced bronze heads of many of the musical giants of the 20th century including Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, Artur Schnabel, Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter and Rudolf Serkin.

References

"Anna Mahler. Ich bin in mir selbst zu Hause" Ed. by Barbara Weidle & Ursula Seeber (Weidle Verlag, Bonn, 2004).

* [http://www.omnibus.co.yu/anna/ Web site devoted to Anna Mahler]
* Obituary, "The Times", June 6th 1988


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