Charlotte Zelka (1930-Oct. 6, 2001)

Since 2000 I have been maintaining a page about philosopher Günther Anders (1902-1992) on the internet (link to paragraph mentioning Zelka). In 2002 or 2003 I added the following sentence to my short biography, based on an article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on the 100th anniversary of Anders' birth (link to article):

"From 1945 to 1955 Anders was married to the Austrian writer Elizabeth Freundlich; in 1957 he married the Polish-American pianist/dancer Charlotte Lois Zelkowitz."

On April 4, 2004 Charlotte's sister Betty Sandford wrote the following:

"I suppose it's not important because she died in 2001 and Gunther before that, but my sister, Charlotte, was always known by her professional name, Charlotte Zelka. She was a superb musician and pianist, but never a dancer. Neither she nor I ever considered ourselves to be Polish-American. We were American and Jewish and our maternal grandparents were both born in what is now Israel. Both the Friedlands and the Scharlins arrived in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire in the mid 1800s.

"While in Vienna, with Gunther, Charlotte taught at the Vienna Boys Choir, performed with Der Reihe and translated Gunter's works into English. Charlotte left Gunter in 1972 and returned to Monrovia [California], where we were born and raised, but she never divorced him and they kept in touch with each other."

I responded:

Thank you very much for the corrections, and yes, I think it does matter!
I added the erroneous information last year--it comes from a June 30, 2002 article in the Neue Zurcher Zeitung:
(down at the bottom there is a "biographical box").
I added the "/dancer" after pianist because of something my own father once told me. He met Charlotte [actually, it was NOT Charlotte--see below] at some point (in the 1940s?) when Günther was living with or visiting my grandfather, Herbert Marcuse. My memory of the anecdote is vague, but I think Peter said he thought she had been a "Hungarian dancer." I mentioned this anecdote to Günther when I visited him in Vienna in the early 1980s, and he chuckled and confirmed it.
At any rate, I have corrected the information about your sister on the web page.
Again, thank you for the correction, and it is my great pleasure to hear from you!
Harold Marcuse

Clearly, that woman was not Charlotte, who would have been only about 10 years old at the time. Peter Marcuse provided the following clarification:

My recollection is that, in 1940 or 1941, Anders was pretty well down and out. He rented a room in our house in Santa Monica, 218 18th Street, and lived there for a number of months. He had a girlfriend, an aspiring actress in Hollywood, who occasionally came to the house when I was there. She was indeed very pretty, but in the sense we would now call arm candy. I don't think the affair was very serious; it certainly did not end in marriage. I have no idea what her name was; if pushed, I'd say Veronica.

Finally, while working on this page, I found a Sept. 13, 2003 e-mail from a musician colleague of Charlotte Zelka's correcting the same error. Albert R. Rice adds more information about her life:

For over twenty years I knew and worked with Charlotte Zelka, Anders' third wife, who died of lung cancer on June 10, 2001 at the age of 71. (Charlotte always used her professional name of Zelka since the early 1950s.) To my knowledge, she was never a dancer.
Charlotte studied at Juilliard with Artur Schnabel and his son, Hans-Ulrich, at the age of 16. In the early 1950s she moved to Rome and then to Vienna. In Vienna, she performed with the new music "Die Reihe" working with the composer and conductor Friedrich Cerha, teaching piano at a girls' school, and at the Vienna Boy's Choir School. I first met Charlotte in 1977 after she returned from living in Vienna for 22 years. We founded a trio (I play clarinet, the other member was a violinist) that played together until 1980. After our violinist left for a teaching and playing career in the Netherlands we formed a new group with Tom Flaherty, now professor of composition at Pomona College, his wife the violist Cynthia Fogg, and within a couple of years, violinist David Stenske, forming a quintet called the Almont Ensemble. For several years we performed at many southern California venues and as far afield as San Francisco, Seattle, and Winnepeg. Charlotte commissioned a number of works for the Almont Ensemble from various composers in the U.S. and performed works by Cerha, Krenek many others who visited southern California. The Almont Ensemble recorded a number of chamber works on LPs and CDs. In the 1950s, Charlotte also recorded several works by Berg (Chamber Concerto), Stravinsky (Capriccio), and Mozart (Concerto K488) with noted musicians, such as Arthur Brendel.
Charlotte also accompanied the tenor, Michael Ingham on at least one European tour. Michael taught voice for many years at UCSB, I believe that he is now retired. Perhaps you know him.
Concerning Anders' work. I remember during the late 1980s that Charlotte was working on an English translation of "Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen". In fact, I took home her manuscript to read but never got very far in reading it. Charlotte's sister is living in Monrovia and I could give you a contact phone number for her if you are interested. I rather doubt that this manuscript exists any longer and it doesn't appear that it was accepted for publication. Charlotte complained to me that the translation of this book was full of problems because of the complex German syntax and meaning. But apparently Gunter was convinced that she could complete a translation that was a good reflection of his original meaning. By the way, Charlotte never divorced Gunter because she told me that she "didn't want to hurt him any further." Apparently, Anders was an extremely dominating personality and Charlotte had to be on her own away from him.

On Apr. 8, 2004 Al added:

Yes, by all means you may add my note or any portion thereof to your website concerning Charlotte Zelka. By the way, Charlotte's name in German was "Carlotta" and this is how she was known by her Austrian friends and certainly by Günther Anders. During 1978, I travelled to Germany, meeting Charlotte in Vienna where we subsequently met with Daniel Strang, the violinist. I stayed in a building owned by friends of Charlotte and had the opportunity to talk to them and listen to their conversations in German on several occasions. The music group that Charlotte played and toured with in Vienna was indeed called "Die Reihe", and was (I don't think they are now active) a very important group in promoting new music, and music produced the Schoenberg school of composers.

I am now trying to follow up on the existence of the manuscript translation of Die Antiquiertheit.

for an obituary of Charlotte Zelka (no more than the date), see this page at link.
page created by H. Marcuse, April 4, 2004, updated 4/10/04.
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