Although Gustav Mahler is considered a composer of the Viennese fin de siècle, he had little to do with the city’s vibrant social life. Only after prolonged hesitation and with reservations did he agree to join when Berta Zuckerkandl, who maintained one of the most exclusive Viennese salons, invited him to dinner in November 1901: Mahler affected that he did not want to meet any other guests, and that by the way he would eat only Graham bread and apples from Merano. The salonnière nonchalantly ignored the instructions of the famous court opera director and invited the painters Gustav Klimt, Carl Moll as well as a few other visitors – no doubt she also deviated from the prescribed series of dishes. That the evening was nonetheless a success was ensured by Carl Moll, who attended accompanied by his step-daughter Alma Schindler, who had already confided in her diary in December 1898 to be “effectively” in love with Mahler.
They animatedly discussed Zemlinsky’s ballet Der Triumph der Zeit based on Hofmannsthal, which Mahler rejected as impossible to perform: “I must say,” Alma Schindler wrote, “I liked him enormously.” “Right after the evening at my place,” Berta Zuckerkandl noted down, “[Mahler] visited Mrs. Moll, Alma’s mother, […] thawed, forgot his ascetic worldview, became young and foolishly in love.” At his Philharmonic Salon, Götz Teutsch will trace high society life in Vienna at the turn of the century – and not only with this story. Music by Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Johann Strauß, Alexander Zemlinsky and others will be played by members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, while texts are shaped by the Austrian actor Peter Matić.