Mozart : A Cultural Biography

4.15 (86 ratings by Goodreads)
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This major work, the result of years of careful study and analysis, places Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's life and music in the context of the intellectual, political and artistic currents of eighteenth-century Europe. The result is a fresh interpretation of Mozart's genius, as Robert Gutman shows the great composer in a new light. With an informed and sensitive handling, Mozart emerges as an affectionate and generous man with family and friends, self-deprecating, witty, and winsome but also an austere moralist, incisive and purposeful. The major genres in which Mozart worked-chamber music, liturgical, theater and keyboard compositions, concertos, operas, symphonies, and oratorios-are unfolded to reveal a man of luminous intellect. Mozart is an extraordinary portrait of a man and his times and a brilliant distillation of musical thought.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 839 pages
  • 152 x 232 x 42mm | 1,102.22g
  • Orlando, United States
  • English
  • 0156011719
  • 9780156011716
  • 1,016,093

Review quote

"Yoshimura's evocations of Japan's cities, jails, and workplaces are precise, and his spare, sensual prose has all of the intensity of poetry...a vivid psychological portrait.-Publishers Weekly (starred Review)
"Reminiscent of Zola and Balzac...A brilliant dramatization of the implacability of fate by an exceptionally good novelist."-Kirkus Reviews (starred)
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Rating details

86 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 43% (37)
4 37% (32)
3 14% (12)
2 3% (3)
1 2% (2)

Our customer reviews

Robert Gutman deserves applause for his remarkably, tirelessly comprehensive treatment of not just Mozart\'s life but the times that shaped them, too. As the book\'s title promises, Gutman describes the social, political, and economic landscape of 18th-century Europe that Mozart\'s family (literally) trod from one end to the other during his lifetime. It puts into fresh perspective the how\'s, why\'s and wherefore\'s of his rise to success, from his travels as a wunderkind, his disappointing teen years, his virtual banishment from his hometown of Salzburg, to his great success and untimely death in Vienna. Gutman offers great musicological insight into Mozart\'s works, citing them as his hitory unfolds. Opera lovers will particularly enjoy the stories behind the stories of Idomeneo, Abduction, Nozze, Don G., Cosi`, and Flute. Gutman brings to light the common historical, literary, and personal threads that bind all of these. It also corrects numerous myths and misrepresentations. For example Mozart was not buried in a common, pauper\'s grave, as popular works such as \"Amadeus\" would have us believe. Rather, his burial was of a type common for the Viennese middle class of that period, being not a perpetual one, but in a leasehold of 10 years. After this, the remains were simply plowed over to make room for new burials. The headstone was often reused, though there is evidence that his may have been preserved. The only (very minor) shortcoming of this book is Gutman\'s tendency to wander off into tedious and, sometimes repetitive hyperbole when describing a particular work: evidence of his love of the music and his great regard for the composer who wrote it. The upside is that these sections, usually no longer than a paragraph or two, can be skipped over without losing the story if all one is really interested in is the actual history, sans florid descriptions of the music. Overall, an enjoyable, scholarly, yet readable work. Bravo Dr. Gutman!show more
by Nick Seidenman
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