Alma Rose: Vienna to Auschwitz

By Richard Newman; Karen Kirtley | Go to book overview

23

Reverberations

We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles -- whatever one may choose to call them -- we know: the best of us did not return. -- Viktor E. Frankl

The very day that Alma last led the orchestra at Birkenau, eighty-year-old Arnold performed in London at the Three Wise Monkeys Club -- whose motto was "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" -- in aid of the Red Cross. The club, in the former home of the painter Whistler, had a splendid view of the Thames. On 17 April 1944, twelve days after Alma's death, the Rosé Quartet gave its fourteenth National Gallery noontime concert, attended by two hundred. On 12 June 1944, six days after the Allies landed in Normandy, the venerable Rosé joined soprano Winifred Brown, organist H. Schaechter, and cellist P. A. Wayne in a benefit concert in St. Michael's Church in Blackheath, in a series of recitals for the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society. Schaechter's wife, Arnold noted, was the daughter of one of Gustav Mahler's uncles.

Arnold had not heard from Alma in over a year. His last seven messages sent through the Red Cross had gone unanswered. The house where he now lived as one of the family with Hans and Stella Fuchs had a room for Alma when she came back. He wrote to Alfred: I would be completely at peace if I received one word from Alma."

Arnold remained in contact with Franz Werfel and Alma Mahler-Werfel in California and with his niece Anna Mahler and her husband Anatole Fistoulari in London. Anna was happy with the birth of their daughter, Marina; another daughter, named Alma, from Anna's marriage to Paul Zsolnay, was with the elder Zsolnays. A movie was soon to be based on Werfel's book The Song of Bernadette, and Arnold was enthusiastic. He considered Werfel one of the great writers of the century.

Arnold was still playing violin for two hours every morning and practicing

-310-

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