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Mozart Paperback – January 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble; Trade Paperback Edition edition (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156619833X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566198332
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #925,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mallon on September 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Marcia Davenport's "Mozart" is indeed wonderfully written and truly was a labor of love. She has a gift for drawing the reader into the book; her wit (and, on occasion, biases) can be noted throughout the book. Davenport doesn't get you to know ABOUT Mozart; she gets the reader to KNOW him.
The reader will find himself emotionally attached to Mozart. He or she will rejoice when he rejoices and will feel sorrow when the Austrian prodigy felt sorrow (which, sadly, was not uncommon.) I truly enjoyed reading this book...
...which is why I'm sorry to say that it is not the best biography.
The work is contains many myths and legends that were masqueraded (often by musicologists) as facts in the past. The author makes use of a letter ("Letter to Baron B.") that was proven fraudulent. This particular letter, concocted by a Friedrich Rochlitz in the early 19th century, was dubbed a forgery even before Davenport's time. (Mozart's first reliable biographer, Otto Jahn, acknowledged this.)
This is not to discredit Davenport; she researched all she could. Again, many otherwise reliable musicologists of Davenport's day regarded the above, as well as other myths and legends found in the Davenport biography, as bona fide information. Many other biographers fell victim to this: Alfred Einstein and Maynard Solomon included. It wasn't until the 1980's that further research revealed that many so-called facts about Mozart were nothing more than myth, and that musicologists and biographers alike put a stop to myth-propagation.
I recommend the reader study this book alongside a biography written within the last decade or so... or better yet, obtain a copy of "The Mozart Myths: a Critical Reassessment" by William Stafford.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "anoperafan" on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
"No biographer, no commentator, critic, or interpreter can ever reveal Wolfgang Mozart entirely. Every attempt to know him truly, to relive his life, is incomplete without his own musical revelations."
Although that sentiment could not be more accurate, this biography by Marcia Davenport, simply entitled Mozart, brings us about as close as we can get to knowing and understanding this musical genius solely through a 400-page biographical account. In preparing for the writing of this biography, Davenport retraced every journey Mozart made, saw every dwelling in which he had lived, every theatre in which audiences first heard his works performed, and every library and museum that possessed useful manuscripts. In the foreword, she asserts, "I think I know what he looked like, how he spoke, what he did day by day."
Throughout the book, we too get a sense for Mozart the composer and Mozart the man. His great musical works did not emerge from a vacuum; rather, they are the products of a man deeply affected by a unique combination of experiences spanning from his prodigious childhood days of touring throughout Europe to his last days in which he wrote his great Requiem (K. 626), a piece he knew he was composing for his own death. We worry with him through his difficulties with debt and the constant onslaught of disgruntled creditors, and we delight with him when he glows with amorousness for some new love interest. We rejoice with him at the success in Prague of his great operas Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, and we mourn with him as Wolfgang attempts fruitlessly to receive a much-desired court appointment and recognition worthy of his talent.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
From an avid reader in general, and of biographies and history in particular, I found this book remarkably hard to put down after the very first page. I agree with Barnes & Nobel when the wrote "The result is a biography of such commanding stature that it has remained unassailable since its publication in 1932." What makes this book so special is that it doesn't tell you about Mozart, it is Mozart. You feel as if you are living your life along side Mozart's. Davenport's writing, woven throughout the scores of quotations from letters written by Mozart and those around him, is so vivid that you can actually see Mozart's life unfold in your imagination from the beginning until the end. And what about the subject of the book - Mozart. In my opinion, Mozart is one of the most spectacular individuals the World has ever known. If you are not a Mozart fan now, you most assuredly will be after reading this book. He seems to have been not only an ungodly genius, but a generous individual with an incredible sense of humor as well. This book should be studied at the high school level. I really believe teenagers would not only comprehend Mozart, but would also find him similar to themselves from a social point of view. I bet it would be real eye-opener to many of these students that such an apparently laid-back, rebellious and "party animal" type of person could create such serious and Ingenious work. This book is a must read for all!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Konrad Baumeister VINE VOICE on July 21, 2007
Format: Unknown Binding
Marcia Davenport's Mozart has long been a well-known and well-liked biography, one still readable and important despite more recent corrections and detailed information not then available. If one has seen `Amadeus,' the outlines of the story will be familiar.

And yet, few books on Mozart are as enjoyable of a read. Davenport tries not just to tell us the what and when of Mozart's life, but engages in what comes across as a sincere and sensitive inquiry into his feelings, his emotions and motivations, as best as can be divined at this distance. His childhood - if one can call it that - and travels about Europe with his father are covered in minute detail, his letters analyzed, his friendships and connections thoughtfully described. I especially enjoyed the Austrian accent in the purported conversations...they seemed to make him still more human.

The story does follow Mozart's musical accomplishments, but this is primarily about the man. There are other books that analyze note for note Mozart's works; this book is confined to personal biography. In the end, of course, it is a tragically short story. Mozart's break from his father proved in many ways to be his break from real life, and this proved to be a young man totally unequipped to deal with life on his own. A person of such staggering talent, his personality so lopsided, at heart good but defenseless, he dies at the peak of his musical powers and at the nadir of his personal and mental composure. The end as Davenport describes is quite very moving and the reader will be touched emotionally.

Davenport was a biographer with tremendous personal empathy and insight, and she writes most touchingly and with great skill. This is not the absolute last word in accuracy or completeness, but it is nonetheless important to understanding the genius that was Mozart.
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