Alma Rosé

Richard Newman with Karen Kirtley

Weidle Verlag, 2003
ISBN: 3-93113-566-7

Translated by Wolfgang Schlüter
Bvt Berliner Taschenbuch Verlag, 2005
ISBN: 3-83330-141-4

Introduction by Anita Lasker-Walffisch
Amadeus Press
ISBN: 1-57467-051-4 (hardcover) 2000
ISBN: 1-57467-085-9 (paperback) 2003

The Rosé family were treated like royalty in turn-of-the-19th-century Vienna - father Arnold was the esteemed concert-master of the Vienna Philharmonic while his wife was none other than Justine Mahler, sister of Gustav. Their daughter was brought up in a fascinating household, where Korngold was a family friend, and Brahms might spend the evening trying out a new Piano Trio.
Alma subsequently became a celebrated violinist in her own right,forming and directing the Wiener Walzermaedeln for several years. At the outbreak of war, life gradually became untenable as Jews in Vienna, and Alma was fortunate to emigrate successfully with her father to London. Unfortunately, she needed money to support him in his forced retirement, so accepted recital work in Holland, then a seemingly safe neutral country. After two years there, living on her wits, the Nazis invaded and she was forced to flee. Her luck ran out--she was captured and sent first to Drancy, then on to Auschwitz Concentration camp.
It was there that her genius as a violinist saved her, as the camp needed a conductor for its Women's Orchestra, and Alma was the obvious candidate. She was a charismatic woman, and although not all accounts of the period agree, without doubt saved the lives of many women, by insisting they were essential to the orchestra. Incredibly, she too avoided the gas chambers, but succumbed just before liberation to a mystery illness, probably botulism.

Michael Haas Article