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Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life Paperback – 15 Apr 2004
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'No one interested in Mozart and in inspired letter-writing should miss this volume.' -- Alfred Brendel
'Should be on the shelves of every music-lover.' -- BBC Music Magazine
'The great glory of this volume is Spaethling's willingness to embrace Mozart's writing in all its zany, often angry effervescence.' -- Observer
'The miracle is that these letters were preserved . . . a splendid volume.' -- Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Robert Spaethling is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Massachusetts, and is the author of several books on Mozart, including Music and Mozart in the Life of Goethe. He was raised in the Bavarian town of Weissenstadt, whose local dialect resembles that of Mozart's Salzburg.
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Top customer reviews
Mozart spent much of his life either travelling or living estranged from his family, and remarkably a large proportion of his letters have survived intact. Consequently much of Mozart's fascinating and tragic adult life is documented at first hand in this wonderful collection of letters.
My only complaint is the fact that we are not given access to the letters to Mozart, chiefly from his father, only those from him to others. Sadly we are given only brief snippets of these letters by this book's author in between the translations of Wolfgang's notes. Although it would have lengthened the book, at least a few letters from his correspondents would have made the book perfect for me.
The sudden end to the letters when Mozart died underlined just how much the world lost when this brilliant musician was suddenly taken from his in his prime.
I became absolutely absorbed in this after only reading a few pages. I enjoyed seeing the pleasure Mozart got out of simple language games. The boy and the man who created such beautiful things had the same foibles as we all do.
This book will show you sides to Mozart you probably never imagined existed. I am certainly no classical buff, but I know that this book has set me on the path to becoming a devout admirer of Mozart; and my life will be all the richer for it.
In this volume, we have only Mozart's side of the correspondence. Competing volumes, notably Penguin's, offer both sides of the letters exchanged between Amadeus and his father, Leopold. But for many people, the composer's side will be ample. In the 500 pages or so in this edited collection, we get a good idea of Mozart the man. By turns, arrogant, scatalogical, industrious, impulsive, witty and humble, the composer is not a million miles away from his portrayal in the film, Amadeus. But there are important differences. The letters to Leopold written shortly before and after his marriage to Constanza, for example, show that he did not always stand in reverential awe of him. Wolfgang was well able to stand up to his father and independently forge his remarkable destiny in Vienna, even manipulating Leopold in the process.
Indeed, the letters show facets of the composer's life previously unknown - to me, at least. Mozart had plans to come to England (where his friend and compatriot Joseph Haydn was later to thrive, of course). It's impossible not to imagine that had Mozart actually moved across the Channel, he would have found the financial security that so eluded him back home. He may also have lived to riper years. A sobering thought.
As well as being a musicologist with a profound knowledge of the composer's life and work, Spaethling is also a German expert (because he's of German heritage). His knowledge of German and Austrian dialect is therefore invaluable in enabling him to extract extra significance in the correspondence. Moreover, Spaethling's linking narrative, in which he introduces letters and provides musicological and biographical information, allows the reader very often to pin-point the particular piece of music Mozart is referring to, or the piece that he is busy creating at the point of writing the letter. Highly recommended.
A book I can really recommend! Mozart, Hip hip hurrah!
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