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Mozart: The Early Years, 1756-1781 Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1ST edition (December 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393061124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393061123
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

More a biography of Mozart's music than a study of the man himself, Sadie's final opus—he died this year after publishing some 30 books—should delight musicologists but puzzle general readers. Not only is the music Sadie's primary interest, he does not believe it reveals anything, necessarily, about its composer. Indeed, he reminds readers not to impose contemporary values on Mozart's era. "Romantic eyes," for example, might see certain minor-key compositions as expressions of Mozart's grief over his mother's death, but Sadie argues that there's "no real reason to imagine that he used his music as [a] vehicle for the expression of his own personal feelings." Likewise, modern critics expect to see a certain type of progress in Mozart's oeuvre, with subsequent works building and elaborating former ones, in ways alien to Mozart on his contemporaries. Sadie is deft at situating various styles of musical composition in their cultural context: preferences for serious vs. comic opera, shorter vs. longer works, ecclesiastical vs. lay sponsorship, etc. But Sadie's real forte is his skill at dissecting musical composition—breaking it down to its constituent elements to understand its power—which is why this volume is indispensable for serious scholars, and mostly unreadable by everyone else. Illus. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

Sadie, editor of that Everest of musical scholarship, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, died on March 21, 2005, leaving incomplete a massive biography of that musical Hillary, Mozart. He had finished the first volume, whose 2005 publication makes it the first splash in what may be a tidal wave of Mozart tomes in response to the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. It is elegant, precise, and highly readable. Each chapter first reports the events of Mozart's life, then analytically reviews his compositions during the period covered. Sadie quotes extensively from father Leopold's letters written while the family toured its two astonishing children (Mozart's sister, Nannerl, was a precocious keyboard player) as well as from eyewitnesses of their performances and Nannerl's much later recollections--all of this is delicious reading in itself. Sadie's music discussions use only commonly defined terms, and his tracing of borrowings and influences is gratifyingly diligent. In short, this is the rare scholarly work fully accessible by the interested common reader. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roo.Bookaroo on January 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a vital book by the leading musicologist and Mozart scholar of our times, who died of ALS before completing the second part of his analysis, covering the famous last ten years (1781-1791).
This first book is aimed at a new generation of music lovers who want to get an appreciation and knowledge of Mozart's early music, from the first compositions scribbled by the child exhibited all over Europe by his father Leopold, up to the decisive year, in 1781, when Mozart, at 25, escaped the stultifying environment of Salzburg, and, in the same stroke, freed himself from Leopold's control.

Sadie's grand purpose is to debunk all the myths about Mozart's music that have accreted like carbuncles since his very childhood, by going back to the music itself, carefully analyzing it, and dissecting it to precisely identify the sources of its unequalled charm and entrancing power. A lot of grounding in musical knowledge and vocabulary is helpful in following his arguments.

This is where Sadie's musical expertise is invaluable. He brings a fresh vision and a professional understanding of Mozart's music, focusing on analyzing its impact and restoring a sense of its intrinsic value. Sadie places himself at the forefront of this new fresh look at Mozart's music, discarding all the popular misperceptions and dispensing with all the established clichés.

To appreciate the shock value of Sadie's radical analysis of Mozart's early music and its "rehabilitation", it is worth contrasting it against the background of cultural and historical conceptions Sadie intends to displace.

In his own time, in the 18th century, from his earliest age, Mozart was considered a young prodigy and supreme musician.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Birman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stanley Sadie intended to write a general biography of Mozart's life, following the completion of his labors on the titanic New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which he shepherded into existence. Sadie, himself, wrote the splendid Mozart entry, which was published separately. He completed the manuscript of the first volume of his two volume Mozart biography, covering Mozart's formative years in Salzburg and his extensive youthful travel throughout the music centers of Europe, just before passing away. Sadly, we will never see the completed work. Nevertheless, we are fortunate that we have the first extensive new biography of the early, Salzburg Mozart in more than half a century.

The first thing that strikes the modern reader concerning Mozart's Salzburg years is how much of his early music remains only partially known. Many of his youthful operas remain a cypher to the average listener. His extensive number of early sonatas for piano or violin and piano are also still relatively unheard. Most of his adolescent symphonies remain unplayed. It is not until Mozart reaches the advanced age of 19, by which time he has been composing for at least 14 years, when he quickly composes his 5 violin concertos, that we are on familiar compositional ground. The nature and extent of Mozart's numerous journeys in search of employment are a revelation to the average music lover. Europe's complex social and musical scene in the middle 18th Century, one in which Mozart was obliged to operate as a genius endowed with a profoundly independent spirit, is undiscovered country that 21st Century research is only beginning to reveal as a vast mosaic of fierce political repression and incipient rebellion.
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