Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography

Article excerpt

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography by Piero Melograni. Translation by Lydia G. Cochrane. University of Chicago Press, www.press.juchicago.edu, $30.

The story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the most prolific and popular composers the Western world has ever seen, is widely known. The virtuoso's short life is never overlooked in any classical music history book, and several mainstream movies have been produced in his honor (most notably the award-winning 1984 film Amadeus). The main question that I sought to answer when reading this new book was, "Is there a need for another biography on Mozart?"

Hasn't everything already been said?

In Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography, Italian biographer Piero Melograni proves that when dealing with a character as tunelessly fascinating, prolific, and complex as the 18th-century composer, there is always more to be said and analyzed. The author relies on personal letters written by Mozart, his devoted father Leopold, and other associates to bring a freshly human touch to the dense historical information. While other biographers may emphasize painstakingly detailed events throughout the master's 35-year life, leaving their works dry and without literary ease, Melogranl takes care to keep his work entertaining as well as informative. His literary style allows for interesting tangents on even the smallest subjects, from the state of Mozart's beard at age 17 (01 rather, lack thereof) to the severe consequences of bad drinking water in 18th-century Salzburg.

Melograni takes us from Wolfgang's earliest days as a child prodigy-detailing the Mozart family's extensive and sometimes dangerous tours around Europe and his Introduction to royalty and noblemen-through his musically seminal years in Vienna, to his untimely death in 1791. …