ProjectAMWG – "Jetzt erst verstehe ich den Sinn des Lebens" Der Briefwechsel Alma Mahler - Walter Gropius 1910-1964:…

Basic data

"Jetzt erst verstehe ich den Sinn des Lebens" Der Briefwechsel Alma Mahler - Walter Gropius 1910-1964: Erschließung der Quellen und kommentierte Hybrid-Edition. Teil 1: 1910-1915
3/1/2019 to 2/28/2022
Abstract / short description:
In the summer of 1910 the young, musically trained Alma Mahler
(1879–1964) became acquainted with the then unknown architect and
later founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius (1883–1969). When
Gustav Mahler learned of the liaison, he abolished the prohibition on
composing that he had imposed on the young bride as a condition of
marriage, and promoted her musical development as a composer.

The correspondence of c 850 letters by Alma Mahler and c 700 draft
letters by Walter Gropius between the years 1910 and 1964 from the
Bauhaus-Archive Berlin not only explains her activity and selfunderstanding
as a composer in more detail, but above all provides
insight into her activities as a patron of the arts and organizer of
musical and cultural life in the first half of the twentieth century. The
recently edited correspondence of Alma Mahler with Alban Berg and
Arnold Schönberg has shown how much influence she had as a
cultural activist in the field of music at the beginning of the 20th
century. Without this influence, even the reception of Gustav Mahler’s
works would have differed. Works by these three composers also
appear as the subjects of the largely unpublished correspondence
with Gropius.

Due to Alma’s rare openness, the correspondence also
clarifies not only her biography that is partly misunderstood by later
self-representations, but also architectural and musical history from
the 1910s to the 50s. Alma Mahler’s considerable influence is evident
in her active discussion with Gropius on early design concepts, her
suggestions of relevant foreign literature, her efforts in arranging
assignments and contacts, and her demands for outstanding
achievements. Furthermore, the correspondence provides detail on
the development of Gropius’s theoretical work as well as his

In particular, the phase from the beginning of the
relationship with Walter Gropius in 1910 to the marriage with him in
1915 represents a central testimony. The sources are, for the most
part, completely unsorted and undated, and the largely key-worded
draft letters by Gropius are mostly incoherent and difficult to decipher.
The development of the material is a demanding task in the field of
philology, which is only possible as a result of many years of

All sources will be edited as completely as possible and
the publication will comprise of two stand-alone components. Firstly, a
book of the transcriptions, with an introduction to each letter and
select extracts from the commentary in shortened form. Secondly, an
online publication in open archive walter gropius of the digitized letters
and drafts, alongside the transcriptions, normalized metadata and the
critical apparatus, as well as individual and overarching commentary.
In cooperation with the Zuse Institute Berlin, the longevity of the open
source data will be guaranteed by using TEI standards. The letters will
be searchable through Kalliope.
Editionsvorhaben Briefwechsel 1910-1964; Alma Mahler, Walter Gropius; Langfristonlinepräsentation

Involved staff


Institute of Musicology
Department of Ancient Studies and Art History, Faculty of Humanities

Local organizational units

Institute of Musicology
Department of Ancient Studies and Art History
Faculty of Humanities


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

will be deleted permanently. This cannot be undone.