Top positive review
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Mozart - musical genius, flawed human being.
on 18 October 2016
I have previously read Suchet's trilogy on the life of Beethoven. I found those books to be eminently readable and highly informative. His life of Mozart is also easy to read, but I found the content to be somewhat "thinner". Suchet freely acknowledges that much of his source material came from other authors, and the core facts of the biography depend on letters written by Mozart or members of his family. Thus, the overall impression is of a slightly second hand biography, and at no time do we discover whether Suchet was able to read the original German letters for himself. He uses a curious maneuver by which he extracts quotes from the book and separates them into paragraphs or lines in parentheses. I do not think this added anything. My overwhelming emotion as I read the book was sadness despite being well aware of Mozart's early death. Set against his astonishing genius the timing of his tragic death is hard to cope with. Suchet was correct in assuming that much of my previous knowledge of Mozart came from the film "Amadeus" and I was pleased to discover that the story of Mozart being placed in a pauper's grave is false.
One great asset that Suchet brings to a biography of a musical great is that Suchet himself has considerable musical knowledge as well as practical skill. This allows him to offer personal insights into individual pieces. I found this very helpful, so much so that when I read of a particular piece, I listened to it on my i-pad before continuing with the narrative.
I accept that the role of Mozart's father was very important in the life of Mozart, but I did wonder if it was slightly overdone because Suchet was so dependent on letters as his source material.
An easily read biography, perhaps most useful for someone who loves music and history, but is not an authority on either.