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.
“Historian Johnson lauds everyone’s favorite composer so as to pique the interest of every reader. . . . Johnson starts debunking myths on the first page . . . [and] they all crumble under his commonsense presentation of evidence. An altogether excellent primer on possibly the most complete musician who ever lived.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Most satisfying . . . A highly accessible initial foray into an astonishing, and inexhaustible, subject.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Impassioned . . . Johnson captures the depth of Mozart’s achievement with a scholarly fan’s . . . enthusiasm. . . . A compact and knowledgeable portrait of genius.”
“Johnson packs a great deal of information into these pages . . . and his grasp of Mozart’s musical output is astounding, his description of Mozart’s works comprehensive and enlightening. . . . This is a solid, and often fresh, introduction to the life and work of the composer.”
“The perfect stocking stuffer . . . A portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that will give pleasure to and increase the understanding of old Mozart hands as well as those reading for the first time about the man . . . Like his latest subject, Johnson never strikes a false note.”
—The American Spectator
“Excellent . . . A delightful, concise read. It’s fun—like listening to Mozart is. . . . To learn about the life of such a remarkable musician is a treat and a privilege. Paul Johnson has made Mozart’s story accessible and rewarding.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
“This short, pithy, intelligent book will appeal to music lovers and general readers.”
—Hudson Valley News