The apparently effortless delight of Mozart's music seems so godlike in its inspiration that critics often give way to awe. The result is that Mozart studies are either highly technical exercises in musicology, or gushing tributes which explain little. In this biography, Maynard Solomon tackles the most intriguing and important issue of all, the ...
The apparently effortless delight of Mozart's music seems so godlike in its inspiration that critics often give way to awe. The result is that Mozart studies are either highly technical exercises in musicology, or gushing tributes which explain little. In this biography, Maynard Solomon tackles the most intriguing and important issue of all, the roots of Mozart's creativity, and finds them in previously misunderstood details of his life. At its heart, for all his boundless energy and genius, lies rejection by his family, his patrons and his city.
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Manyard Solomon's works on Beethoven, Schubert, Ives and Mozart have led many to proclaim his as "the leading musicologist/biographer of our time'" As a reader, there is much delight in discovering much interesting material regarding his personality, the situation surrounding the presentation of new works, Mozart's working habits' travels and other areas, however, this is a pschological biography, and there is really little in-depth understanding of the music. The author settles for a kind of 'emotional saran - wrap' approach which tells the reader little regarding how the music is constructed and why it was meaningful for Mozart to choose this particular path, an how that is became 'emotional' ontology of the work at hand. Solomon seems to assume that the work which Mozard is composing at aparticular time reflect Mozart's emptional state at that time. But this is an out-moded concept that has been shown to be false. Mozart penned some of his most joyful confident works (such as some of the piano concertos) when in a depressing personal situation. All the Mozart biographers go ape-**** (no pun intended) when the "scatalogical material'" is discussed, such as the letters with rather funny references to bodily functions. Here Solomom induges in theries a la Freudian which are somewhat silly, and rather strained pschologically. Why can't we just accept the fact that Mozat liked jokes about farting! Mozart has never been canonized. Very much worth reading but can get annoying if you are not a Freudian. The tone of the book is depressing, bordering on nihilistic. Especially when describing Mozart's father, one can think that Leopld apsolutley did nothing positivr ever for him son, and always merley a o pain to him, whom Wolfgang wanted to escape. It is clear, even from a cursury reading of the facts of Mosart's life, that he did nit have a life-giving relationship with his father. Wolfgang was to struggle between his onw desired and the guilt-laden pleading of his father not to move farther away form him. It if clear that this was a major iten in Wolfgang's psyce, and every biographer has commented on this. But it des seem a little annoying to have to revert to a freudian model of 'fathers' and sons' to make sense of their evolving relationship. It seems to me that the author feel that Mozars was merely "filled with rage' during his relationshio as a late teen-ager with his father, and this seems a little extreme. Every son goes through a period of invivdualization and seperation from his father, and even the greatest musical genious in western music had to also.
Publishers Weekly, 1995-01-09 Beethoven biographer Solomon here presents a revisionist biography of Mozart, which his publisher claims is the first full-scale biography in nearly 40 years. Certainly it is a major work in terms of heft and range. Solomon will have none of the ``divine child'' approach, limning instead a man growing up under the shadow of an impossibly demanding father who was at once overprotective and jealous of his son's vast gifts. There is a great deal of psychological probing into the agonies of their relationship, much of it sensible; and Solomon paints an indelible portrait of Mozart's last years, begging for money, guilty about his deprived wife Constanze, resentful of being virtually cut out of his father's will, yet still heroically forging a new musical aesthetic. He also clears up much of the mystery about the bizarre Requiem commission, and the burial in the ``pauper's grave.'' He is convinced that Mozart and his cousin ``the Basle,'' recipient of many of the infamous smutty letters, were lovers for a time; and the portrait of the composer that emerges is of an extraordinarily sensitive, liberal-minded (the Masonic material is superb), extravagant but responsible person who has been much belittled by biographers beginning almost immediately after his death. Solomon also writes acutely about what was daringly new, and wonderfully enduring, about Mozart's music. Only a certain lack of flow between the chapters suggests the origin of much of this material in lectures. Illustrations. BOMC selection. (Feb.)
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