Sunday, October 28, 2007

a love for girls and animals and plants

After his failure to establish himself even marginally in regular employment (Peter Altenberg) drifted ever more to the periphery of polite society. By 1920 he was living in a tiny room at the Hotel London, an establishment which was little different from a brothel, on Wallnerstrasse. There he stayed for more than a decade, building up a fabled collection of picture postcards and nude pinups with which he covered the walls. An artistic consequence of significance ensuing from his collecting mania can be found in Alban Berg's "Five Orchestral Pieces after Picture Postcard Texts of Peter Altenberg". The public uproar at the first performance in March 1913 has gone down in the annals of music history. Outraged listeners screamed for the composer to be committed to the lunatic asylum at Steinhof, where, as it happened, Altenberg himself had been confined since the previous December.