What to Listen for in Mozart

What to Listen for in Mozart

by Robert Harris
     
 

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Two centuries after his death, our fascination with the brief life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the greatest musical genius in history, has never been greater. A man of immense contradictions, Mozart astonishes with the number and variety of his compositions: forty-one symphonies, twenty-seven piano concertos, twenty-five string quartets, seventeen operas, and more.… See more details below

Overview

Two centuries after his death, our fascination with the brief life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the greatest musical genius in history, has never been greater. A man of immense contradictions, Mozart astonishes with the number and variety of his compositions: forty-one symphonies, twenty-seven piano concertos, twenty-five string quartets, seventeen operas, and more. Virtually every major piece he wrote in the last ten years of his life is still in the active repertoire; virtually every piece he created in the last five is a towering masterpiece. He is the most frequently performed composer in concert halls worldwide, and the recent bicentennial observances of his death as well as Hollywood's adaptations of his musical creations have made them familiar to millions. What to Listen for in Mozart is the essential introduction to the world's most beloved composer and to the pleasures of classical music, written in a witty, exuberant, and engrossing style. Robert Harris leads readers on an exploration of Mozart's music and his extraordinary life, examining his achievements within the context of the aristocratic society in the late 1700s hovering on the brink of revolution. Mr. Harris concentrates especially on seven of Mozart's greatest works and briefly analyzes another fifty of Mozart's compositions in a final chapter. He effortlessly guides readers to an appreciation of Mozart's distinctive style, identifying the clues to his genius, and noting the dazzling innovations that give Mozart's works their universal and enduring appeal.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Introducing a contemporary reader with only limited musical knowledge to an infinitely sophisticated composer is a daring venture; all the more gratifying, therefore, to report that Harris, a CBS-Radio executive, brings it off with considerable success. He writes warmly and colorfully about Mozart's too brief and largely unhappy life, disclosing nothing new to scholars but certainly creating a character likely to appeal to the reader's curiosity. The heart of the book, though, is a series of detailed studies of a handful of works-- Eine Kleine Nachtmusik , the Haffner serenade, the K.467 piano concerto, the Jupiter symphony and the operas Don Giovanni , The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute . Harris shines as an educator on the level of Leonard Bernstein in The Joy of Music , one of the only bestsellers about musical classics. Harris's exposition is lucid, his explanation of structure highly perceptive and his use of musical examples couched at just the right level for the interested amateur. He hits the appropriate tone, neither talking down to readers nor overwhelming them with arcane jargon. (Aug.)
Library Journal
As the title suggests, this is a guide to the music of Mozart for the uninitiated. Harris, who has created music appreciation programs for CBS radio, offers an easy-going and infectiously enthusiastic text. But there are two serious flaws: first, the book is replete with the worst sort of popularizing and mythicization (e.g., an interval of a major third expresses ``confidence and joy''; ``in the Romantic era meter was seen as a hindrance to . . . deep emotion''; ``for many composers after Mozart, form was not that important''). Second, even the most ardent novice might be discouraged by the formidable amount of space devoted to technical analysis. Harris deserves credit for trying to communicate his love for the subject and for introducing musical analysis at an introductory study, but the work's gross simplifications foster inaccurate and fanciful notions, and the target audience might be put off by the long stretches of often arguable analysis.-- Daniel Fermon, Museum of Modern Art Lib., New York
From the Publisher
“Harris shines as an educator on the level of Leonard Bernstein.”
Publisher's Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743244046
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/07/2002
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

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