Mozart and His Times

Mozart and His Times

Mozart and His Times

Mozart and His Times

Excerpt

This book is a reply to the prevailing opinion that our knowledge of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's life is complete, and that to this chronicle nothing new can be added. Such a view finds its parallel in the method of "art history without history of the artist" which reigned in musicology as well as other fields half a century ago. We cannot deny that this approach contributed fundamental insights and greatly enriched our knowledge of styles, but at the same time it led to neglect of basic historical research. Musicology in particular suffered from this, and still largely lacks those minute and detailed biographical studies which are features of the neighboring disciplines of literature and art history. Hermann Abert's programmatic discussion Über Stand und Aufgaben der heutigen Mozart-Forschung" ("On the Status and Tasks of Contemporary Mozart Research"), Mozart-Jahrbuch I (Munich, 1923), enumerated many unsolved problems of Mozartean biography. But only a few of these have since been attacked.

Nevertheless, new biographical material has been appearing in increasing measure. New documents of Mozart's and his contemporaries have been discovered. Studies in local and national history have added an abundance of details and clarified various episodes in Mozart's life and in the lives of those contemporaries who played a more or less favorable part in his destiny. Finally, art history and medical history have supplied correctives of existing views. It has become evident that many a prevailing opinion stands in need of revision, that the bias against biography pure and simple must be discarded, and that we would do well to bestir ourselves in this direction.

Given this situation, it is to be hoped that the present book will not be unwelcome. For more than thirty years I have been engaged in teaching and research on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I had long been aware of the inadequacy of the prevailing state of knowledge. The invitation of the publisher Amalthea Verlag, and of its founder and owner, Dr. Heinrich Studer, offered a happy opportunity for . . .

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