Mozart: The Reign of Love

Harper. Dec. 2020. 592p. ISBN 9780062433572. $45. MUSIC
Many consider Mozart (1756–91), christened Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus (Amadeus came later), the greatest musical genius of all time. Composer Swafford, an old hand at writing biographies of musical greats (Beethoven; Johannes Brahms; Charles Ives), tracks Mozart’s life from the earliest years, when it became apparent that he was a prodigy, so much so that his father, Leopold, paraded his young son and his sister, an accomplished pianist, around Europe to introduce them to various royal courts. In Austria, young Mozart even sat on the lap of Empress Maria Theresa. Without resorting to technical terminology or offering musical illustrations, Swafford traces Mozart’s development from prodigy to mature composer, weaving together the events of Mozart’s life and the cultural milieu in which he worked. Included are an index of musical compositions, notes, and works cited.
VERDICT The copious detail will appeal to musicologists, while the flowing, conversational style will draw in general readers who’d like to learn more about the composer. Heartily recommended to everyone with an interest in the subject.
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