L’âme soeur by Evelyne Bloch-Dano

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In 2019, when the musicians from the trio George Sand asked Evelyn Bloch Dano to collaborate on a project paying tribute to Gustav Mahler, she accepted without hesitating. But during a research trip to Vienna, Bloch Dano discovered the existence of Natalie Bauer Lechner–the composer’s childhood friend and partner. She then abandoned her first idea of an autobiographical narrative for the former and directed her energies towards Natalie.

This change in direction will hardly surprise those who are familiar with the art of biography: in countless books, the light is more often shed on those people who were essential for great artists during their lifetimes, but who nevertheless remained in their shadow: Mme Zola (the wife of Emile), Mme Proust (Marcel’s mother), George Sand’s last great love.

Who remembers today this gentle and beautiful woman who developed a romantic relationship with the composer when they met at the Vienna Conservatory when they were 16 years old? Before everyone else, Natalie Bauer Lechner perceived and encouraged his genius. A musician herself, she understood how Mahler’s music fused both the modern and the romantic. She and Mahler became truly inseparable, spending each of their summers together.

But it would be wrong to imagine Natalie Bauer-Lechner as a submissive woman living in the shadow of the composer. Although she was certainly devoted to Gustav, she was also a free woman who frequented the Viennese avant-garde circles at the turn of the century. To the great displeasure of her mother, Natalie turned her back on domestic life to pursue a career as a virtuoso violist, playing all the corners of Europe with the Soldat-Roeger Quartet.

With her extraordinary storytelling talents, Evelyne Bloch-Dano offers us a remarkably life-like portrait–both gently nostalgic and wildly endearing–of Viennese society before the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

L’âme soeur, a novel by Evelyne Bloch Dano, Stock.
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For more information about that novel, we recommend that you listen to:

an event with Evelyne Bloch Dano at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

Rencontre avec Evelyne Bloch-Dano, autour de Gustav Mahler, au Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

Rencontre avec Evelyne Bloch-Dano, autour de Gustav Mahler, au Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

a podcast in 4 parts on France Musique

L’âme sœur : podcast et replay sur France Musique

Féministe, indépendante, altiste au sein du réputé quatuor féminin Soldat-Roeger, Natalie Bauer-Lechner est une femme moderne, originale, incroyablement vivante ! Suivons Natalie et Gustav, de leur rencontre au Conservatoire – Mahler a 16 ans, Natalie 18 – jusqu’aux fiançailles avec Alma Schindler qui mettront fin à leur relation.

After almost two decades of working in publishing, and a few round trips between Paris and New York, Miriam has decided to settle down at Albertine to do what she enjoys most: recommending books she loves. Somehow this also includes taking bizarre pictures for Albertine's social media outlets.
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