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A Life in Letters (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 27, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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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 Zauberflöte (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.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

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: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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What better way to learn about Mozart than from his letters? His father goes from being a stock, domineering patriarch to a very human man, concerned about the well-being of his son and intent on helping the young man to make what he sees as the right decisions--though whether father knows best is up for debate. The letters reveal Europe in the second half of the 18th century. Travels by carriage, bad inns, frightening illnesses. It's fascinating to see the way Mozart's genius is questioned, and how he puts all the arguments of the naysayers to rest when given a chance. We see the famously dirty sense of humor in all members of his family. This wonderful edition of the letters contains brief introductions to various letters, strong footnotes, and a context-setting introduction. The letters themselves allow us an unadulterated view into the lives of one of the greatest composers. This book is well worth the price and your attention.
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I know it's not utterly complete, but it is just what I wanted. There are a LOT of letters in here; it's not a superficial selection. Good translation, helpful background notes and footnotes. I'm reading this in tandem with the Abert Mozart biography, and pretty much every letter he references is in this collection.
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