1 A.C.—After Covid, part 1.

Before the brink on March 12, 2020.

The graves of Gustav Mahler (left) and Alma Mahler Werfel and her daughter Manon Gropius (right).

A year ago today, I was frantically wrapping up research in Vienna while making equally hectic plans to return to my home base in Munich and then the US before the initial COVID travel ban went into effect. My time abroad for research was over. That afternoon, I took a break from the mania and took a tram out to the suburb of Grinzing to visit the cemetery where Mahler, Alma, and Manson Gropius are buried. The weather was pleasant, the atmosphere calm, with no hint of how quickly life and everything about it would change.

Some listening for then and now as reflection:

The final movement of Mahler’s Symphony no. 9, in a majestic interpretation by Claudio Abbado.

Alma’s setting of Otto Julius Bierbaum’s text “Laue Sommernacht” (Mild summer night) from her Five Lieder from 1910.

Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto, “Dem Andenken eines Engels” (“To the memory of an angel”), the angel being Berg’s muse and Alma’s daughter Manon Gropius, who died of polio at age 18 in 1935.

Author: Ryan M. Prendergast

Ph.D. Candidate @ the University of Illinois. Theater, opera, music, media, art, history, detritus. I smile, of course, and go on drinking tea.

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