A Prodigy's Quest for Self-Determination

By Merle Rubin. Merle Rubin regularly reviews books for the Monitor. | The Christian Science Monitor, March 2, 1995 | Go to article overview

A Prodigy's Quest for Self-Determination


Merle Rubin. Merle Rubin regularly reviews books for the Monitor., The Christian Science Monitor


Complex, subtle, filled with brilliant, intricately-wrought designs that dazzled and sometimes baffled its first audiences, the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is also brimming with a joyful exuberance and an exceptional beauty that can enchant even the untrained ear. Innocent yet sophisticated, elegant yet heartfelt, his music transcends attempts to label it.

Mozart's life, however, has too readily been reduced to over-simplification and mythology. The image of Mozart as a sort of divinely inspired nincompoop popularized by Peter Shaffer's play "Amadeus" is perhaps the extreme culmination of a more respectable biographical tradition that tended to view the famous child prodigy as a kind of eternal child. But now, thanks to a magisterial new biography by the eminent music historian Maynard Solomon, lovers of Mozart's music will gain a renewed understanding of and appreciation for the man who composed it.

Comprehensively researched, carefully thought out, and compellingly written, "Mozart: A Life" restores our sense of the genius's humanity. The central theme of this book - one might even say, the central drama - is Mozart's struggle to emerge from childhood dependency into the uncertain, sometimes dangerous world of adult self-determination.

The infant Mozart's brilliant career was stage-managed by a father whom he literally worshiped: "Next to God comes Papa," was the boy's motto. By the time Mozart left his native Salzburg for Vienna in 1781, the once-blissful father-son relationship was suffering from intolerable strains. As Solomon shows, the Mozarts in the eyes of father Leopold, at least - were a family enterprise, and any step taken by the gifted son toward artistic, financial, or romantic independence or self-expression was viewed as a sign of dangerous rebellion.

Leopold Mozart opposed every one of his son's love interests, from his instantly bonding friendship-romance with his high-spirited cousin (Anna Maria Thekla Mozart, referred to as "the Basle" or female cousin) who shared his penchant for scatological humor, to his eventual marriage in 1782 to Constanze Weber, the kind-hearted daughter of a musical family like his own.

When Leopold wasn't casting aspersions on the "scheming females" he suspected were trying to entrap his talented son, he was cautioning the young composer against writing anything too experimental, reminding him of the debts - financial and emotional - owed to his family, and generally doing everything possible to make Mozart feel guilty about deserting his poor old father. Solomon provides ample selections from their correspondence to document this portrait of a loving father unable to allow his son to grow up. And indeed, when Mozart took the drastic steps of leaving the family home in Salzburg for life in the big city of Vienna in 1781, and, a year later, of marrying Constanze, his father refused to accept these decisions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Prodigy's Quest for Self-Determination
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.