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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


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About the Author

Piero Melograni is the author of eighteen books, including Lenin and the Myth of World Revolution, and, most recently, La guerra degli italiani, 1940-1945. Lydia G. Cochrane has translated numerous works from Italian and French, including Luc Ferry's What Is the Good Life?, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


Melograni, an Italian historian who writes principally on nonmusical topics of the 20th century, has made a valuable contribution to the crowded field of Mozart studies published this year, the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth. The author draws extensively from the letters and notes of the Mozart family, and thus his conversational, chronological account of the composer's life is unusually rich in detail. Readers will encounter frequent interjections from Melograni on the meaning of events or assumptions by other writers. For example, he makes a case for the removal of the Requiem from the Mozart canon, arguing that this masterpiece is mainly the work of others and is not up to par with Mozart's other final works. Conspicuous for avoiding any detailed discussion of the music itself there are no musical examples, and even superficial comments are kept to a minimum the book still holds value for lay readers. Melograni's citations are thorough, and his bibliographic notes give a useful if somewhat jumbled and hard-to-read accounting of Mozart scholarship. Those interested in a more integrated study of Mozart's life and works may prefer Julian Rushton's Mozart or David Cairns's Mozart and His Operas. Recommended for general collections. Larry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Italian historian Piero Melograni delivers a charming biography. Expertly grounded by the massive correspondence between Mozart and his highly complex family, Melograni's study benefits from its author's keen understanding of the changing social environments of the late eighteenth century." - Todd B. Sollis, Opera News "The idea that Mozart's achievements had nothing to do with self-discipline, hard work, knowledge or intellect is deeply embedded in the popular image of his genius, but Melograni... will have none of it, pointing out how hard Mozart worked on his music, even as a child, and suggesting that the 'eternal child' view was put about by... family members to emphasize Wolfgang's need for and dependence on them." - Sheila Fitzpatrick, London Review of Books "[The book] is absorbing as a filial psychodrama, depicting Mozart's slow emergence from the suffocating embrace of his father, Leopold, the quintessential stage parent." - New York Times Book Review "This is one of the most engaging, vivid and well-written biographies of Mozart around. As befits the work of an admired historian, the sense of time and place is wonderfully alive and the elusive personality of his subject is captured with sympathy and genuine insight. He has an engrossing story to tell, he knows it, and he tells it better than most. As a portrait, the book is a triumphant success and deserves a wide readership." - Piano"

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