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Daughter of the architect Walter Gropius and of Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel, widow of Gustav Mahler (yes, she of Tom Lehrer fame). Born on 5th October 1916, Manon died at the age of eighteen. Alban Berg dedicated his Violin Concerto to her: dem Andenken eines Engels, "to the memory of an angel".

Sadly, Berg too died, in December 1935, before his concerto was premiered. The piece is one of the masterworks of the Second Viennese School, beautiful and moving throughout. Its two movements were intended to be a musical portrait of her life and death. He had been approached to compose a concerto in February, by the violinist Louis Krasner, and initially declined; but he had already begun thinking about it when Manon died. He abandoned the opera Lulu to work on it. Krasner gave the first performance in April 1936, in Barcelona.

She had contracted polio (Kinderlähmung, childhood paralysis) very suddenly in April 1934, when they were in Venice. She lingered on in a wheelchair for a year, and died on 22 April 1935, Whit Monday. She is buried with her mother in Grinzing Cemetery in Vienna, next to Mahler; she is marked by a white triangular slab on the grass.

Elias Canetti said of Manon, "She radiated timidity still more than beauty, an angelic gazelle from heaven!" She was indeed beautiful, and was apparently brilliant and talented, and wanted to be an actor.

I have heard that the 1943 film The Song of Bernadette was also dedicated to her, as it was based on a novel by Werfel, Alma's next husband; but I have yet to confirm this. The name Manon was that of Walter Gropius's mother (1855-1933).

Expanded using:

Photo, aged about 16, with a kitty: www.geocities.com/al6an6erg/manon.html
Mahler graves: http://www.gustav-mahler.org/english/gedenkstaetten/grabmal.htm

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