The Other Voice
Alma Mahler was at the centre of musical life in Vienna for most of the first four decades of the 20th century. But in 1902, just before her marriage to Mahler, she gave up composition, at his request, and never returned to it. Her story is well known, but less familiar are those of the many other brilliant women who contributed to Vienna’s musical culture between 1900 and 1938, working as composers, performers, writers and teachers. This book tells their story.
The Other Voice shows how personal and professional artists’ networks, which were such an important part of Viennese culture at this time, included a number of significant female figures. While links between male figures are well-documented, this study shows how creative women were also supported and influenced by each other, as well as by the better-known men. Secondly, it considers the impact on both women and men of the contemporary gender discourse, as expressed in political and philosophical writing, in literature and in music.
The second part of the book looks in greater detail at a selection of women musicians, dividing them in to three categories: composers, performers, and writers and teachers, although several of the musicians discussed fall into more than one category. In each case a brief account of their life is followed by a discussion of their work, including some analysis of scores in the case of the composers and links to recordings to bring the musical examples to life. This includes considering how their personal and professional lives were influenced by the women and men that they knew, and how the gender discourse affected, and was reflected in, their work.
The book draws on new research into the musicians’ manuscripts and personal papers, which are held in archives such as the Austrian National Library and the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv. It also includes original musical and textual analysis. It is rigorous from a scholarly point of view but written in an accessible style suitable for the general reader. As audiences become increasingly open to hearing music by women, a real appetite is developing for understanding the stories behind the music, which this book caters for. At the same time, the book will appeal to those who are already interested in Vienna’s cultural life at this period, but who wish to know more about the women whose stories have been erased from existing accounts.
Published: Mar 15, 2025
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