A new biography of Alma Mahler reveals a woman determined to wield power in a world that denied her agency. History has long vilified Mahler. Critics accused her of distracting Gustav Mahler from his work, and her passionate love affairs shocked her peers. Haste recounts the untold and far more sympathetic story of this ambitious and talented woman.
...[a] riveting new biography ... most biographies have either diminished Mahler as a flawed muse to great men or else demonized her as a man-destroying monster ... it is with great eagerness that I welcome Haste’s Passionate Spirit, the first — and long overdue — English-language biography to portray Mahler as an important and gifted figure in her own right, rather than just an appendage of great men. The author even admits in her preface that she likes Alma ... While there are no radical insights or new information that can’t be found in other published sources, Haste presents a fascinating overview of Mahler, including commentaries of her subject’s admirers and detractors, as well as many excerpts from Mahler’s diaries and letters. Far from moralizing, Haste allows readers to draw their own conclusions regarding this complex woman ... I did feel that Haste’s book lacks the depth of insight evidenced in Rode-Breymann’s and Marchl’s German-language biographies ...
I am also mystified that Haste does not seem to have read either Rode-Breymann or Marchl, which seems strange, as her bibliography references other German-language secondary sources. But all in all, this is the best biography of Alma Mahler available in English
In this sympathetic, engrossing biography of Viennese socialite and composer Alma Mahler ...Haste...traces Mahler’s struggle to find equilibrium among her men (all creative geniuses), her erotic desires, and her own musical ambition ... Haste beautifully reprises the life of this force of nature.
Biographer, historian, and filmmaker Haste...creates a sharp, sympathetic portrait of the sexually and emotionally voracious Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfe...whose three husbands and many lovers brought her both prestige and notoriety ... Haste is cleareyed about Alma’s emotional neediness, her 'occasional intransigence,' and her 'deeply conservative, anti-Semitic' political views.
A well-rounded portrait of an imperious woman and her eventful life.