From Library Journal
Stafford (philosophy, history of ideas, Huddersfield Polytechnic, England) has written a fascinating, well-documented review of the many popular stories about Mozart, concentrating especially on the circumstances surrounding his death. He analyzes the sources of the stories' information and assesses the credibility of the various witnesses, carefully sorting out truth from misunderstanding, gossip, rumor, and lies. Mozart emerges as a far more complex person than biographers often portray him. While not casual reading, this involved and detailed study of documents, motives, and the convoluted reasoning behind the Mozart myths is required reading for the devoted Mozart fan. For large public and academic music collections.- Timothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
'A work of minute and impeccable scholarship. It is also tremendous fun to read. That is a very rare combination ... What is particularly enjoyable aboutthe book is the obvious enthusiasm with which William Stafford recounts these narratives. They are, by turn, fantastic to the point of risibility, compelling, revealing, and alas, even repulsive, where the German 'conspiracy' theories become, inevitably, anti-Semitic. But before the intellectual historian - for that is Stafford's calling - turns his hand to dismantling them, he gives each a real run for the money. It is, at times, like a trip through fairyland; and yet these narratives were not, after all, the product merely of books and ecstatics but of the likes of Jahn and Einstein. Nor does the fun stop with the reading of the narratives. For their deconstruction, although executed with scrupulous attention to the historical documents, never becomes dry or pedantic ... Gentle reader, whatever you do, read this book if you have interest in the divine - or is it the bestial, dissipated, autistic, or obnoxious - Mozart. For you will learn a lot about him, whatever he is, and a lot, too about the practice and pitfalls of historical narrative. Above all, you will have a helluva good read.' Music and Letters