4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2014
I have a large number of books about Mozart and this makes an interesting addition. This is a relatively small biography but does have some new slants to it, In particular it surveys Mozart's knowledge and use of the different orchestral instuments. Comments on his use of the timpani was new to me lthough his comments on the French Horn contained a few errors. I would not agree that Mozart only composed 5 violin concertos because that was all he had to say - I am sure that if someone had commisioned another one he would have leapt at the chance. Nor do I agree that most authors are unkind to his wife - she was not very helpful to Mozart when he was alive but cheerfuly exploited his fame after he died.
I would not recommend this book as a first guide to Mozart but it is a useful addition to the existing vast amount of literature written about his life and music.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2014
Interesting to see Tony Skelton's mention of "a few errors". There are many, many more throughout this very sloppily researched book. It gives a strong impression of an experienced writer resting on his laurels. Apart from the schoolboy howlers - such as "Kegelstaff trio of works ..." (two of the four errors squeezed into a single sentence!), there are so many crass, unsupported opinions and an increasingly cosy feeling, as though a self-satisfied uncle is generously sharing his knowledge and preferences with the reader.
I have heard that this book has been well received in America, so I am particularly keen to say that Paul Johnson (and his editors, who were perhaps out to lunch at the time) should not be allowed to get away with this ! It's a bad book which should never have seen the light of day. To be avoided.