Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the greatest composers of all time. His music has a natural flow and irresistible charm, and can express humor, joy or sorrow with both conviction and mastery...

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Monday, July 7, 2014


For once taking an uncontroversial stance, politicallycontentious popular historian Johnson lauds everyone’s favorite composer so as to pique the interest of every reader of this profile. He seems to have two primary objectives: to explain why Mozart’s music is so good and to uproot the sentimental legends that have grown like so much honeysuckle (a weed, after all) around Mozart’s life. While proceeding overall in good biographical chronology, Johnson prosecutes his first objective by, for instance, discussing how Mozart’s writing for particular instruments—from piano to viola to the then-new clarinet to trombone to tympani—reflects mastery of the qualities and capabilities of each (the chapter occupied with this argument is reason enough to rejoice about the book). Johnson starts debunking myths on the first page, where he insists that Mozart wasn’t a sickly child. Thereafter, he continues to lay bare misconceptions: that his father coldly exploited him; that he ever lived in poverty; that he was lascivious and unfaithful to his wife, as well as that she was improvident and shrewish; that he had a pauper’s burial; that he ever was a neglected musical presence in his time; that he was ruinously in debt. They all crumble under Johnson’s commonsense presentation of evidence. An altogether excellent primer on possibly the most complete musician who ever lived. --Ray Olson
Click on The Book, and see Everything else 'Mozart' at Amazon.com...

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