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This is a scholarly, but not heavy, account of Mozart's last year (he died, tragically young at the age of 35, at the end of December 1791 after a fairly short but very distressing illness). Robbins Landon is an authority of the highest repute and the book reflects his probing, meticulous approach on every page. It was a year full of incident, which only intensified as it moved forward until the astonishing month of September when the composer was engaged in the composition and staging of 'La Clemenza di Tito' in Prague, finalising the sublime Clarinet Concerto and writing 'Die Zauberflote' for Shickaneder's company in Vienna ; very movingly, his sister-in-law Josefa Hofer is the first Queen of the Night, presenting these hair-raising coloratura arias to the public for the very first time. Always there is Constanze, his devoted wife with whom despite all its turbulence - her difficult pregnancies and the deaths of four of their six children being foremost - his marriage is happy and fulfilling. What she must have experienced in her eight years or so with the composer! Suddenly, in November, out for a drive with her in the Prater, Mozart feels unaccountably ill. He himself suggests poisoning as a cause, though he withdrew that notion not long afterwards when he felt better - alas! only temporarily. Robbins Landon tells the story of those terrible final two months with clarity and compassion. He explodes the distortions in the entertaining film 'Amadeus', through which, unfortunately, many no doubt have a vision of Salieri as the devil incarnate (he was in fact only six years older than Mozart), Mozart as a yodelling buffoon and Constance as a sly dimwit, and gives a balanced account of what happened, with an interesting medical analysis from Dr. Peter Davies (though doctors in the late 18th. century were often unable to treat illnesses, they were meticulous in recording symptoms, and there is quite a deal of surviving evidence of how Mozart's conditions - more than one - developed). Behind it all, of course, is the enervating effect of constant and intense overwork. It is so sad, though, to realise again how the composer died at the very height of his powers - what else might he have achieved? - and to be made aware of his fear of death and his certainty, in the last weeks, that it was unavoidable. Robbins Landon quotes extensively from contemporary documents of various kinds, conveying a vivid picture of musical and political life in Vienna and elsewhere at the time, so that many of the personalities who knew and dealt with Mozart come to life in the book. Above all, he considers Constanze and her role as help and support to Mozart in his life and his astute and effective champion after death. She may well, as a young woman, have been ill prepared for the overbrimming reality of living with such a genius, but she grew through the experience and acquired a dignity and stature after his death that can only command respect. And so does this book. The author presents his narrative and its supporting evidence with the greatest skill, and in so doing does his subject full justice.
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on 4 December 2011
This book is well researched interesting for musicians and not musicians and a glimpse into the reality of Mozart 's life .Some myths are destroyed too. Worth a try and a great read.
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on 5 October 2013
Busy as ever, WAM's last year was one of his most productive. Several of the most profound works were produced at the end of his only too short life. "Robbie" has a style with a superb blend of academic detail and entertaining description. Especially revealing is the strength of his relationship with his musician friends. I would have loved to spend an evening in the pub with Wolfgang almost as much as I would have treasured hearing him play. An essential volume for any lover of Mozart.
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on 2 February 2014
I have almost every book written about Mozart and this one really does bring the last year of his life to the reader, died at the age of 35 on the 5th of December 1791 having written music that the world will always remember and of a man we will never forget.
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on 22 February 2014
A very interesting read. Full of well documented facts, many of which are little known. Many myths and speculations dealt with. Most enjoyable and informative. Adds greatly to listening, and performing his music.
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on 6 January 2014
I read this some years ago, then bought another copy for my father, who liked it very much also. Nothing too taxing; just a story well-told and a few loose ends and misconceptions put to rest.
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on 2 June 2016
Wonderful and touching insight into the last days. Well written and affecting
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on 14 February 2015
Good condition great used buy
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on 25 April 2015
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