Monday 11 November 2013

Book Review: Mozart - A Life by Paul Johnson

Title: Mozart: A Life
Author: Paul Johnson
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 176
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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As he’s done in Napoleon, Churchill, Jesus, and Darwin, acclaimed historian and author Paul Johnson here offers a concise, illuminating biography of Mozart. Johnson’s focus is on the music—Mozart’s wondrous output of composition and his uncanny gift for instrumentation.

Liszt once said that Mozart composed more bars than a trained copyist could write in a lifetime. Mozart’s gift and skill with instruments was also remarkable as he mastered all of them except the harp. For example, no sooner had the clarinet been invented and introduced than Mozart began playing and composing for it.

In addition to his many insights into Mozart’s music, Johnson also challenges the many myths that have followed Mozart, including those about the composer’s health, wealth, religion, and relationships. Always engaging, Johnson offers readers and music lovers a superb examination of Mozart and his glorious music, which is still performed every day in concert halls and opera houses around the world.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

Paul Johnson's biography of Mozart is certainly succinct, running to less than 200 pages as an e-book; however, I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing. It means some detail is excluded, but if you are looking for a brief overview of Mozart's life with a focus on his works, then this book would be a good investment.

For a biography, this was very light, enjoyable reading and is something to enjoy rather than plod through for research. Die-hard fans may bemoan the shortness of the piece, but I believe it is a good 'entry-level' biography for those looking to learn a little more about this great composer.

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