by Maynard Solomon
published by HarperCollins
© 1995 by Maynard Solomon
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From Publishers Weekly
Beethoven biographer Solomon here presents a revisionist biography of
Mozart, which his publisher claims is the first full-scale biography
in nearly 40 years. Certainly it is a major work in terms of heft and
range. Solomon will have none of the "divine child" approach,
limning instead a man growing up under the shadow of an impossibly demanding
father who was at once overprotective and jealous of his son's vast
gifts. There is a great deal of psychological probing into the agonies
of their relationship, much of it sensible; and Solomon paints an indelible
portrait of Mozart's last years, begging for money, guilty about his
deprived wife Constanze, resentful of being virtually cut out of his
father's will, yet still heroically forging a new musical aesthetic.
He also clears up much of the mystery about the bizarre Requiem commission,
and the burial in the "pauper's grave." He is convinced that
Mozart and his cousin "the Basle," recipient of many of the
infamous smutty letters, were lovers for a time; and the portrait of
the composer that emerges is of an extraordinarily sensitive, liberal-minded
(the Masonic material is superb), extravagant but responsible person
who has been much belittled by biographers beginning almost immediately
after his death. Solomon also writes acutely about what was daringly
new, and wonderfully enduring, about Mozart's music. Only a certain
lack of flow between the chapters suggests the origin of much of this
material in lectures.
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