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“Most Viennese in 1900 came from somewhere else. Vienna became the third most populous European city after London and Paris.
“Moriz and Hermine Gallia were among the provincials who flocked there from across the Hapsburg Empire. Moriz came from southern Moravia; Hermine from southern Silesia. They were part of Vienna’s extraordinary transformation in fifty years from a city almost without Jews to the most Jewish city in western Europe.
“The Gallias had appeared in books and catalogs about art and design as patrons of Klimt and Hoffmann, but they were also in the literature about what made Vienna one of the intellectual and cultural centers of the early twentieth century. The Gallias were part of the argument about whether it was Jews and Jewish converts to Christianity who gave Vienna a cultural significance it had not achieved before or since.
“When I began this book, I had little idea of what was in my mother’s cupboards. It had not occurred to me that she might have correspondence linking the Gallias and the Mahlers. My stints in the library and with her papers began to illuminate the place of the Gallias in turn-of-the-century Vienna. For all I found, nothing equaled my mother’s cupboards, which contained much more than I realized. The abundance of the material was about how the Gallias lived in Vienna in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It took me deeper into the past than I ever thought possible. . . .”