Modern Birthday Gifts For Famous Composers

Anna Bahr Mildenburg(Photo: Wikipedia)
Anna Bahr Mildenburg(Photo: Wikipedia)

Years ago the great pundit Gore Vidal was asked by Johnny Carson, “What would you give Nancy Reagan for her birthday? “I would give Nancy Reagan Versailles” was the priceless answer.

Johnny never asked about composer birthdays as far as I know. Since this week marks the 153rd birthday of Gustav Mahler , I ‘m wondering what birthday gift he would have most enjoyed. I came up with two.

  1. A heart transplant-since cardiomyopathy killed him at age 50
  2. Anna Bahr Mildenburg, the German soprano who was his heart’s desire until he married the younger, prettier and better connected Alma Schindler, who was not exactly the happy homemaker.

For the birthdays of Schumann, Donizetti, Schubert and Hugo Wolf the obvious answer is penicillin. These gentlemen were carried off by a nasty malady that led to madness-but is easy to treat today. I’ll say no more.

While I’m add it here are some modern gift ideas for famous composers:

  • J.S. Bach with two wives and 22 children: birth control
  • Mozart: Investment advice. None of this dying broke nonsense
  • Haydn:  A nubile girlfriend, since Franz Joseph was married to a battle axe who loathed her husband
  • Beethoven: An episode of Hoarders
  • Brahms: Wagner’s head on a platter
  • Verdi: A whoopee cushion. Smile already!
  • Puccini: A bottle of good scotch to treat Elvira-itis, his horrible nagging wife Elvira
  • Wagner: Untold riches. Still wouldn’t be enough for him. No wonder the term unendliche (endless) is often attached to his name/music

I’ say though, going into the 2t0h century, that money, booze and penicillin would work every time. Enjoy!