The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (31): Burying Alma

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (31): Burying Alma


norman lebrecht

April 16, 2020

Frau Mahler would have loved it.

Shame she couldn’t be around for her obit.


  • KANANPOIKA says:

    Tom Lehrer…….BEYOND being brilliant………..

    (The “Chow House” reference remains, for decades, one of my most cherished moments of humour….)

  • Westfan says:

    The great, great Tom Lehrer! I was raised on his records by my enlightened parents, bless them. Well, among other music. I have his entire collection on CD, I think I need to listen to them again……

  • John Borstlap says:

    Terrible woman. Difficult to understand what all those neurotic artists saw in her. Freud would have suggested: they needed her to become conscious of their own, suppressed neuroses.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    In fairness to Alma, Gustav Mahler was a very fussy and rather difficult man until she started having an affair with Walter Gropius. Richard Wagner, in contrast, was a much better husband to Cosima than Mahler to Alma. Neither Alma nor Cosima were particularly pleasant characters. Robert Schumann had the best wife, the exceptional Clara.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I’m not sure that Alma would have loved it, as she wasn’t known for having a great sense of humor. Anyway, Tom Leherer taught math or physics at U.C. Santa Cruz, close to where I live. However, I’ve yet to meet a single person in S.C. who knows him, or had known him (he was born in 1927!). I keep the Tom Leherer cd that has “Alma” at the beginning of my Mahler cd collection.

    • Gerald S. Spear says:

      Exception! I live in S.C. and sometimes ate breakfast with Tom Lehrer in college. My roommate read the Sports section of the NYT; I read the front page; Tom read the obituaries saying: You can see the world pass by in the latter – though a little late, perhaps. Gerald S.Spear Harvard ’48 See

    • Duncan McLennan says:

      I was a post-doc at UCSC in the 1960s. I once called into the office of a Maths staff member to get the date and time of the next meeting of a regular poker school that we both played in. He had been chatting with a colleague, who learned during the subsequent conversation that I was a New Zealander. “Are New Zealanders crazy people?” he asked. “I hear they really like Tom Lehrer songs and they’ve asked him to tour there.” I replied that I and my student cohort in NZ loved the songs and knew most of them word-for-word. I asked him why he was interested.

      “I’m Tom Lehrer,” he replied.

  • Marc says:

    Give credit where credit is due. This is one of the many masterpieces by Tom Lehrer, who, it’s worth knowing, celebrated his 92nd birthday last week. In his way, he was a genius, creating beautifully crafted songs with satirical but very pointed messages. Most remain timeless (“Pollution” should be heard, in light of the announced relaxation of mercury emissions approved by the so-called EPA). And let us praise Tom’s gift for rhyme! Who else could rhyme Gustav and Alma as cleverly as he did?

  • Emil Gilels says:

    The same performance, but with the spoken introduction:

  • Martin Carpenter says:

    Rhyming ‘Gustav’ with ‘must have’ is sheer genius.

  • yujafan says:

    Alma was a stunner, and not a bad composer in her own right. Her songs are delightful.

  • Brian v says:

    Very amusing. And nice photos.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    One of my favourite Lehrer songs. “Alma was no Bernadette”. His gift for rhyme stood out in this song. To add to the others listed in the comments, “Werfel” and “careful”.