Alma Mahler was one of the most interesting women in late 19th/early 20th century Vienna. Her (male) contemporaries also found her fascinating, and an astounding number of creative men fell victim to her charms—painter Gustav Klimt, composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, artist Oskar Kokoschka, and writer Franz Werfel are just some of them.

While she wielded a good deal of power over her men, she was not always free from pressure from them. As a young woman, she studied music and counterpoint and had begun to compose art songs when she married Gustav Mahler, who made her promise to give up composing music. He didn’t want his wife to be his competitor.

I’ve always wondered how her life would have been different if she had told him to take a hike and kept on with her creative pursuit instead of becoming involved with one creative man after another.