Henriette Lazarus (1834-1903).

  • Profession: Salonniere Hamburg. Music salon.
  • Relation to Mahler: Hamburg
  • Correspondence with Mahler:
  • Born: 14-10-1834 in Alexandria, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt. Her father is Leopold Schiff (1797) from Mannheim who moved to Trieste. Mother is Johanna (Hänchen) Schiff (Wollheim) (1811).
  • Sister of Charles (Carl) Gottlieb Samuele Schiff; Giustina Rodenberg; Sir Ernest Frederick Schiff; Alfred George Schiff en Jenny Schiff.
  • Married: 1859 Hamburg to Dr. Jacob Lazarus (1819-1881).
  • Died: 14-09-1903 Hamburg. (Aged 68).
  • Buried:

Also: Emma Alessandra Lazarus. Called Henriette.

Address: Esplenada No. 37. Designed 1881. Building never seen by Jacob Lazarus. Emma lived here with her unmarried sisters Virginia Schiff (1842-1911) and Jenny Schiff(1844-1924). Large library in the house. Often visited by Gustav Mahler.

Leopold Schiff (1797-1874) and Johanna appear to have spent the early years of their married life in Alexandria, where there first child Emma Alessandra (named in honour of her birthplace) was born 14-10-1834. Giustina was born, as were the rest of the couple’s nine children 1837. Samuele followed in 1838, Arie Natan in 1839, Salomon in 1840, Virginia in 1842, Jenny in 1844, Ottavia in 1845 and Eliezer Hassi was a late arrival in 1849. Their stories are remarkable: they spread throughout the world, to Hamburg, Berlin, Cincinnati, London and Vienna. Their stories were remarkable and well worth the recounting. Their achievements were memorable and in many different ways. As they moved across continents their names were transformed into their German or English versions.

1. Emma Alessandra Schiff (named Henriette), born 14.10.1834 in Alexandria, married Dr. Jacob Lazarus (*1819,+1881) 1859 in Hamburg, died 14.09.1903.
2. Giustina Schiff (later: Justina), born 28.7.1837 in Trieste, married Julius Rodenberg (*1831, +1914) 1863 in Berlin, died 1923.
3. Samuele Schiff (Carl Gottlieb, also Charles), born 1.11.1838 in Trieste.
4. Arie Natan Schiff (later: Alfred George), born 11.11.1839 in Trieste.
5. Salomon Schiff (later: Ernesto Federico and Ernest Frederick), born 15.11.1840 in Trieste.
6. Virginia Schiff, born 5.1.1842 in Trieste, moved 1871 to Hamburg, unmarried, died ? there.
7. Jenny Schiff, born 24.6.1844 in Trieste, moved 1871 to Hamburg, died September 1924 there.
8. Ottavia Schiff, born 29.11.1845 in Trieste.
9. Eliezer Hassi Schiff (later: Eduard Schiff), born 4.3.1849 in Trieste, German Gymnasium 1861 in Trieste, “Gelehrtenschule des Johanneum” 1863 in Hamburg, final examination 1868 in Trieste, Dr. med. 1875 in Vienna, died 5.3.1913 there.


The firstborn, Emma Alessandra, born 14th October 1834 in Alexandria in Egypt, married Dr Jacob Lazarus a lawyer in Hamburg in 1859. He was fifteen years older than his bride and had behind him a successful career. He had received a doctorate in Law in 1842 from the university of Heidelberg but was unable to receive citizenship in Hamburg because of his Jewish faith.He was, however, a member of the constituent assembly that was formed in 1848 as part of the Year of Revolutions in Europe.and volunteered in the war with Denmark in 1849 in which he was captured. From 1875 until his death in 1881 Jacob Lazarus was a member of the Hamburg parliament. He and his wife had no children. Ten years earlier, Henriette and Jacob welcomed to their home her father Leopold Schiff and her unmarried sisters Viginia and Jenny. Her father Leopold must have died in Hamburg in about 1874. We do not know when Leopold’s wife had died.
Emma, who was known as Henriette, became well known in her own right as the cultured hostess of a musical salon in Hamburg, from her home on the Esplanade, and in particular is remembered for her support of and friendship with the composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).
On Christmas day 1892 Mahler wrote to his sister Justine ‘Today I am invited to a very fine dinner’. In early January he told her I spent Christmas Eve at the house of the widow of a Dr Lazarus, an elderly woman with two equally elderly and unmarried sisters – their brother is Dr Schiff from Vienna (probably in fact known by Sax).It was very quiet and so I fared very well. – On New Year’s Eve I was invited to a large party, also on the spur of the moment.’It seems obvious that Mahler got on extremely well with the Schiff sisters, for in early April 1893 he wasplanning to share his holidays with them:
I’ve just come from Frau Dr Lazarus and her sisters. We are all agreed to spend the summer in the same place, if it’s possible. So please look around where you are renting for me to see if there isn’t also a nice four-room (or so) apartment to be had for three ladies – and tell me about it in detail. Arrange the business so that possibly everything for Frau Lazarus can be arranged by writing. To me it would seem very agreeable: the three would be very well suited to us, and it also would be of the highest importance for you as a starting point for Hamburg. Please, all of you make an effort towards this end!
See to it that the location is absolutely beautiful and mountainous – and above all that there’s water! (for swimming!)
On 02-03-1893 he wrote again to his sister:
Dearest Justi!
…The house of which she spoke – that of Dr Lazarus’s widow, Frau Lazarus and her unmarried sisters, all three between 40 and 50 years old – is the one here that I visit most often (especially recently – they are very cultured and kind ladies, who lead a kind of bachelor’s life and have become very good friends of mine. If you visit, I would introduce you there above all.

These must have been happy times for the three sisters, mothering this young man. Although he describes all three as elderly, Jenny was only eleven years older than himself, Henriette was 59 years old. Their calm friendship was appreciated, and he relished their gracious company. At this time Mahler was still nominally Jewish, his conversion 1897 was the price he paid for promotion in Vienna. As an assimilated Jew he enjoyed spending Christmas with the three Jewish sisters from Trieste.


Mary-Lu providing another aspect to the Mahler-Schiff friendship. She wrote:

Did I tell you the story about Mahler which I had from my mother? Apparently her mother, Lucile Newell Schiff, Samuele’s (Carlo) third child, and second daughter, always said that when she wrote her autobiography she would tell that aged 4 she was carried up to bed on Gustav Mahler’s shoulders. Maybe this was on one of the occasions when Gustav was spending Christmas with Henriette/Emma who would have been aunt to my granny: he could have gone to supper with Carlo or maybe they were staying with the ladies. I am so glad to have this other confirmation of the connection with Mahler.


Almost certainly Lucile met Mahler in 1892 when he came to London as a guest conductor from 26th May to 23rd July. The dates are perfect. Lucile was born 27-02-1887 so she would have been five. I am sure the three Schiff sisters in Hamburg would have given the introduction. Mahler was in Hamburg from 26-03-1891 till 1897, and his friendship with the Schiff sisters was strongest at the beginning of his sojourn.

There is another link. revealed in the autograph book of Rosie Schiff, daughter of Alfred Schiff. She must obviously have been on another visit to her three aunts in Hamburg, for her autograph book, which was sold at Sotheby’s for £6,875 in 2012, has Mahler’s signature with the inscription: ‘Auf Wiedersehen in London!’, Hamburg, 24-03-1892. He left Hamburg on 26-05-1892, in order to travel by ship to London. Perhaps it was Rosie, as much as her aunts, who, having met Mahler at their house in Hamburg, arranged to meet him in London at the home of her uncle Charles at 22, Lowndes Square. Rose Georgette Schiff was born in 1874, and was staying with her aunts in Hamburg in August 1891, as she signed the visitors book at Toni Petersen’s on 31-07-1891. When Mahler signed her autograph book she would have been almost eighteen years old.
Lucile Schiff at the time of her meeting with Gustav Mahler. Painted by Julian Russell Storey in 1892.

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