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A Life in Letters (Penguin Classics) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141441461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141441467
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Austrian composer, widely recognised as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music. Among his most famous works, with Lorenzo da Ponte as librettist: Le nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787) Cosi fan tutte (1790), Die Zauberflote (1791), La clemenza di Tito (1791). Cliff Eisen has published extensively on the life and works of W. A. Mozart, including the New Grove 'Mozart', the edited volumes Mozart Studies (Oxford University Press, 1991), Mozart Studies 2 (Oxford University Press, 1997) and New Mozart Documents (London, 1991). He is general editor of the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Mozart. Stewart Spencer is an authority on German literature and an editor of the journal of the Wagner Society. Barry Millington is the author of the highly acclaimed Master Musicians: Wagner and editor of The Wagner Compendium.

Customer Reviews

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Macaw Mom on April 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I must confess I'm still reading this wonderful compilation of correspondence; but I can confidently state that it vividly draws you into the daily lives of Mozart and his family. Ever wonder what day-to-day life was like in Mozart's time? There's no better way to experience it than to read these letters and their descriptions of the mundane and the extraordinary, the aggravations of travel, the rewards (monetary and otherwise) of performing for royalty, and all of the other details that would fascinate anyone who has ever wondered what Mozart's life was really like. Highly, highly recommended.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By znatic on August 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Who knew that a primary source would be so much better than any biography? This is a surprisingly fascinating and easy read. The translator does a fantastic job with the letters, even getting one of Mozart's silly poems to rhyme in English. You get the real story told from the point of view of the Mozarts themselves. You really feel bad for Leopold as his rather flighty son traipses around Europe running up debts.

Cons: I know the letters were voluminous, but I wish there were even more letters included here. Maybe they will come out with an unabridged edition. I know the footnotes were difficult to do, as the Mozarts drop tons of names, but I also wish there was more information included on some of the people referenced in the letters.

That said, I highly recommend this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Arsov on October 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Now this is what I call impeccable editorial work! With this volume Mr Eisen has done an outstanding job that ought to serve as an example to many an editor. All too often miserable hacks, dressed-up in the editor's prestigious mantle, make a hash of things: see Pico Iyer and the travel writings of Somerset Maugham (Everyman's Library, 2009). But not here, not with Mozart's letters edited by Cliff Eisen.

The editor has supplied this volume with excellent chronology, fascinating biographical essay about Mozart, most helpful "List of Important People" and "Further Reading". The numerous historical "gaps" between the letters are explained in italicized notes of exemplary lucidity and conciseness.

Each and every letter - and there are well over a hundred of them, mostly by Wolfgang but with quite a few additions by Leopold, all in chronological order - is adorned with copious footnotes that clarify all obscure points. Most importantly, these indicate the Koechel numbers (K. or KV) of Mozart's works that are mentioned constantly (often in a most cryptic way, but one can't expect the composer to refer to a catalogue that was compiled some seven decades after his death).

Stewart Spencer is a well-known and highly respected translator from German (witness his complete translation of Wagner's "Ring") and so far as I can judge he has managed to convey Mozart's mercurial personality with a spectacular degree of accuracy.

As it seems Mr Spencer is also responsible, as credited by the editor, for the excellent index apparatus. In addition to a General Index, you can browse the volume by "Principal Correspondents" and "Mozart's Works" (by both genre and Koechel numbers).
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Name withheld because stalkers Google me and I find it annoying on February 3, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While I'm finding the book very interesting, I just have so say that the editing is TERRIBLE! I've found several typos just in the foreward. No one should have to decipher a book's true meaning because of bad typeset.
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