Experiencing Mozart: A Listener's Companion

Experiencing Mozart: A Listener's Companion

by David Schroeder

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Titles in the Listener’s Companion Series provide readers with a deeper understanding of key musical genres and the work of major artists and composers. Aimed at nonspecialists, each volume clearly explains how to listen to works from particular artists, composers, and genres. Examining both the context in which the music appeared and its form, authors

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Titles in the Listener’s Companion Series provide readers with a deeper understanding of key musical genres and the work of major artists and composers. Aimed at nonspecialists, each volume clearly explains how to listen to works from particular artists, composers, and genres. Examining both the context in which the music appeared and its form, authors provide the environments in which key musical works were written and performed—from a 1950s bebop concert at the Village Vanguard to a performance of Handel’s Messiah in eighteenth-century Dublin.

Wolfgang Amadé Mozart (1756–1791) remains as popular today as ever. His recordings fill iTunes playlists, and annual Mozart festivals are performed worldwide. His eminence as a musician has supported overseas guided tours, served as the subject of a cartoon series (Little Amadeus: twenty-nine episodes from 2006 to 2008), inspired movies and documentaries, and launched a French rock opera.

In Experiencing Mozart: A Listener’s Companion, music historian David Schroeder illustrates how the issues Mozart cared about so deeply remain important to modern listeners. His views on politics, women, authority, and religion are provided, along with compelling analysis of selected great symphonies and sonatas, moving concertos and innovative keyboard works, and groundbreaking operas. Schroeder merges his vast knowledge of the great artist’s personal and professional life, late eighteenth-century European culture and society, and remarkable musicianship to guide listeners in the art of listening to Mozart. This work is an ideal introduction to readers and listeners at any level.

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Editorial Reviews

Striking just the right note between scholarly and simplified, Schroeder conducts the reader through an engaging discussion of one of the most popular composers of all time. Symphonies, concertos, solo keyboard works, and operas are examined in the context of Mozart’s life and times. The narrative includes a “you-were-there” storytelling style, in which the reader is transported to performances of particular works in the past and the present. With special features including a glossary of key musical terms and lists of selected reading and listening, this compact guide will appeal to serious listeners and music students alike, and libraries who count them among their patrons should add it to their circulating collections.
One of the first titles in the publisher's 'Listener's Companion' series, this volume serves explicitly as an introduction to Mozart's work and seems designed for a broad swath of readers. It is organized in a roughly chronological manner, following the broad outline of Mozart's life and focusing on genres of works at points when those genres seemed to occupy the composer's attention. Schroeder (emer., Dalhousie Univ., Canada) provides several You Are There-style vignettes in which he describes events, real or imagined, in a vaguely journalistic style. There is no claim for scholarly authority in these bits; they are intended to provide historical and musical context. The author knows his Mozart, so the commentary is fine: personal, informed, sometimes idiosyncratic. One might expect to find many competing books in this sphere, but current titles in the 'listener guide' category tend to drill down to the level of genres, e.g., Mozart operas or Mozart concertos. The truly general efforts are appearing as websites and not as books. Schroder's volume, then, fills a niche and will be especially useful for nonspecialists. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers.
American Reference Books Annual
Until the 1984 movie Amadeus, not many Americans knew much more than the name Mozart. It’s a pity, too, as the movie proved a chockablock of errors and innuendo, yet great fun. Older readers will recalled the Dick Van Dyke episode in which Robert Petrie made the colossal mistake of being a talent judge in his New Rochelle neighborhood. They saw the bratty enfant terrible mimic his mother’s pronunciation of the musician’s name as 'Moat-ZART!' But if either or both got the general public turning a kind ear to Mozart, and really listening to him, then so be it. The current volume is more determined to turn our ears to Mozart by turning first our eyes. As Horace says somewhere, our minds are more easily tuned by the eye than by the ear. The Listener’s Companion is meant to be just that: an unpedantic account in words that it is hoped will give life to the ears. If any life was a fury slinging flame, as Tennyson had it, it was Mozart’s, and this volume helps give a sense of both the man and his music. Schroeder, professor emeritus from Dalhousie, has written widely on music and film. He has provided many pre-concert talks at the Lincoln Center in New York and has appeared on many radio and television shows to talk about music. His style is straightforward, easygoing but delightful and full of panache. He gives readers explanations of both technical and scholarly aspects but also important points of what we should be listening for. He traces Mozart from his early struggles to his mature music. Along the way he provides readers chapters with important historical and musical insights into Cosi fan tutte, Don Giovanni, The Abduction from the Seraglio, Figaro, The Magic Flute, and of course the magisterial Requiem. An index makes it easy to find specific topics, persons, places, or musical pieces. As good as this book is—and it is wonderful—it cannot bear scrutiny as a reference tool. Rather, it is a monograph on the life and music of perhaps the finest of eighteenth-century composers.
American Music Teacher
Schroeder manages to cover an impressive selection of Mozart's works that includes examples from chamber music, church music, symphonies, concerti, piano music and opera. He does an excellent job placing these examples within historical, political, social and religious contexts and offers up convincing reasons Mozart's music is still relevant today. . . .[T]he book overall gives us an excellent introduction to some of Mozart's finest (and most famous) works, together with prompts for enhanced listening.
Music & Letters
David Schroeder has done a fine job in Experiencing Mozart…. Experiencing Mozart leaves us in no doubt of Mozart’s continued relevance, greatness, timelessness, and for that we should be grateful.

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Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Listener's Companion Series
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

David Schroeder is professor emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. His previous books include Haydn and the Enlightenment, Mozart in Revolt: Strategies of Resistance, Mischief and Deception, Our Schubert: His Enduring Legacy, and Hitchcock’s Ear: Music and the Director’s Art.

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