Gustav Mahler . "My Darling Shrew, My Sweet Poppy"
Hamburg in the early autumn of 1895: Anna von Mildenburg, a 23-year-old-singer, makes her debut at the Stadttheater as Brünnhilde in Richard Wagner's Walküre and is an overnight sensation. The conductor is Gustav Mahler, Hamburg's "Erster Kapellmeister" and Mildenburg's mentor. As often as several times a day he has messages delivered to the singer – and from the outset these are concerned with more than artistic issues.
Mahler's more than 200 letters, of which only a few dozen have been known so far, reflect a highly emotional love story and offer fascinating insights into the musical life of the fin de siècle. "Perhaps for the first and the last time in his life", wrote Jens Malte Fischer in his great Mahler biography, the composer was loved by a woman "who understood him on the basis of her own talent as an artist, a musician, and a musical creator."
The letters, edited by Franz Willnauer, are complemented by the correspondence between Anna von Mildenburg and Alma Mahler as well as a complete index of performances and a short biography of the legendary singer who died in 1947.