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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  761 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
On the occasion of Mozart's two hundred and fiftieth birthday, read Maynard Solomon's Mozart: A Life, universally hailed as the Mozart biography of our time.
Paperback, 656 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30)
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Barnaby Thieme
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
Solomon attempts to do the impossible in this book -- to get inside the unconscious minds of the Mozarts on the basis of historical documents and letters -- and fails. That this book is so widely admired is, I think, more a testimony to the reading public's desire to understand Mozart on this level than the quality of this book.

This biography has deep problems.

First, Solomon's analytical impulse counteracts the narrative flow. Instead of organizing the book in linear chronology, he analyzes well
Jennifer de Guzman
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
I have read this book many times, and it always strikes me what a profoundly human connection Maynard Solomon has with his subject, Wolfgang Mozart. At times, Solomon's analysis may veer a bit heavily toward the Freudian, but there is no denying that Leopold Mozart was a profound influence on his son and maintained a hold on him throughout his life. Solomon delves into that conflict, showing that Mozart was not as the "eternal child" but a man struggling to be autonomous and independent.

He found
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Almost as good as Solomon's biography of Beethoven--possibly even better because of the number of myths Solomon debunks. I particularly liked the analysis of Mozart's finances in the final years: he didn't die "a pauper" (as the myth goes), but was successfully working himself out of some tough times. If he had survived (he died in December, 1791), 1792 would probably have been his best year financially. Mozart's death itself wasn't a result of any "poisoning" by Salieri or some other rival (eve ...more
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb biography and surprisingly gripping read. Both the era and the personalities of the principles--Wolfgang and his father Leopold, as well as the mother to a lesser extent--are vivid. I read and listen to pieces of the music as I go. Solomon is so insightful about the psychological cross-currents in the family (Leopold must rank right up there with Kafka's father in the bad dad sweepstakes). I am a novice listener (don't know much about music, but I know what I like...) with no special know ...more
Apr 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: haveread, biography
i don't know how much of this is based on fact, but it makes learning something about mozart's life and made it a great story. i guess it is a good place to start if you are a fiction reader who wants to learn something about a real person.
Patrick Thayer
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Sorry, I hated it. Tedious, boring psychobabble.
Apr 08, 2007 marked it as to-read
I got a recommendation to read this from the Teaching Company lecture on Mozart's life. The professor said this was the best book on Mozart.
Alexander Lochard
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, biography
For me, as a musician, this book was moving, inspiring, and filled my mind with amazement of all of the numerous amount of music compositions that he, Mozart,the young composer, was capable of producing within tireless amount of hours of writing what his brain created. I was able to see the intricacies of his thoughts in action when once I read how he composed and what actually motivated him to create his works of art. I actually listened to each of his music compositions once I read how he comp ...more
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I've long been enamored of Mozart's music but unfortunately my only frame of reference regarding the life of this musical genius was the well-directed (if not misleading) Peter Shaffer film Amadeus. I needed to rectify this glaring oversight and this scholarly tome seemed to be THE book to read to begin a far more in-depth journey into Mozart's life and times. Certainly, Solomon's research is thorough and presented very well; his work on determining just how much Mozart may have made as both a c ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Overall, Solomon's treatment of Mozart's life was meticulously researched. I certainly appreciated the insights he offers on his relationships within his family gleaned from personal letters. I couldn't give it more than 3 stars, however, because of two main complaints. First, it read like a biography. He spent a great deal of time with the minutia and I felt that the readability of the book would have benefited from some condensation of the facts. The date of each composition is recorded withou ...more
Avril Wilson
Mar 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
"Brevity is the soul of wit," according to Shakespeare's Polonius in Hamlet. Maynard Solomon obviously disagrees. His book was written in order to be long and full of stuff, so the author says in roughly 530 pages what could and should have been said in about 200 pages.

On top of that, Mozart's life is not presented in a linear, chronological fashion, but in theme-based sections which are so off-putting to readers that the book quickly becomes an exercise in frustration. Solomon also spends a gr
Robert Hopcke
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Super interesting take on Mozart's life--an explicitly Freudian-psychoanalytic lens applied primarily to Wolfgang's relationship to his father Leopold, starting literally from birth and ending with his early death. Loads of primary source material from their letters and journals. However, by consequence, less an emphasis, interestingly enough, on his music per se, except insofar as it illustrated the author's psychological points about Mozart's personality--so, for example, lots of discussion ab ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it liked it
This book has been on my "I'll get to it eventually" list for a long time, and I'm glad that I finally read it. I learned a great deal and enjoyed the writing for the most part, but some of the book really drove me crazy. It was incredibly detailed, especially about money matters. It also had many foreign words and phrases for which I would have appreciated translations. Most of all, there was way too much psychobabble throughout the book. Way too much Freudian analysis! However, even with all o ...more
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic
Well, wow! As a non-professional-musician type who was yet determined to slog through this tome, I found the musical theory passages daunting and unreadable--I wanted very much to understand the connection between Mozart's thought process and his actual music and what made it so revolutionary, but I simply could not. On the other hand, the historical, biographical, and psychological sections were very engrossing. I would have liked more in-depth information about the development of his operas, b ...more
Aug 20, 2007 added it
Shelves: already-read
I really enjoyed this book - it provided a detailed and comprehensive view of the life of a very interesting composer and linked the periods of his life with the compositions that he wrote during those periods. The author also provides a lot of psychoanalysis of Mozart's (fairly dysfunctional) relationships with his father, mother, sister, wife, and himself, although I kind of wonder how much of that analysis was really valid and how much of it was the author's invention based on thin evidence a ...more
Dec 11, 2009 is currently reading it
Solomon is great. Dry humor, excellent research. This guy would make a great private detective. Up to page 100 you get more about Mozart's father, Leopold, which Solomon easily justifies given the enormous influence he had on Mozart. Though it is about 400 pages away, I just know that Solomon's coverage of the Requiem and Mozart's death (poisoned!?!?!!?) is going to have me glued to the book like a Dashiell Hammet novel.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a huge undertaking, really dissecting Mozart's life, trials, and tribulations. As someone who's favorite composer is Mozart, and as someone who has formally studied music and specifically Mozart, I felt this is a great tool to further your knowledge. The author does have some theories pertaining to his life, so this book is not just all facts, but I didn't feel that this detracted from the book at all.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Superb, insightful biography which probes not only the psyche of the composer but also deeply dissects the hidden meanings in the music. Never jargonistic or too technical, it's very easily readable (and I don't even read music.) The chapter "Fearful Symmetries" is the best piece of music writing I've ever read.
MK Fong
Apr 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Reading about this amazingly talented composer and performer is fantastic just to know more about the man. However, I still did not feel like I got an intimate look at his personality. The movie 'Amadeus' had the benefit of creative license in this regard. Yes, even reading WAM's peresonal letters didn't flesh him out to the full.
Holy Lord Kek
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: tarot-shards
It was a pretty good book and all but it could get so irritating with the writer constantly psycho analyzing Mozart's behavior. A lot of it was alot of repetitive stuff about the relationship of father and son. The good thing about it was that it was thourough of his life and seems to have compiled the majority of correspondence.
Magnificent biography on one of the most prodigious talents of all time. Mozart's personality really shines through this book. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to know about the Imaginarian type.
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was a very thorough and fascinating view of Mozart's life. I came into the story only knowing some general basics (mostly from the Amadeus movie). His family struggles, financial concerns and the belief he had in his music, resonated loudly with me.
Vincent Centeno
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just could not put this book down until I finished it. Almost reads like a novel. It is well researched (my opinion of course). I especially enjoyed Solomon's analysis of the intense relationship between Mozart and his father, Leopold.
Daniel Michalak
Mar 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
Solomon attempts to recreate Mozart as a mature man who is more dissimilar than similar to the popularized sketches of the "enlightened Mozart" (Mozart as the "eternal child").
Sarede Switzer
Feb 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable read. A psychoanalytic approach to Mozart's life. Hard to tell how much of the author's hypotheses surrounding his analysis are based on fact or mere speculation.
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Very good book on the life of Mozart tho some "facts" have been debated, as with many biographies. About 600 pages.
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Musicians, History Buffs
Gives intimate details and insight to this great composer. After reading this book you are able to listen and experience his music at a new level.
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed learning more about the man and about the music. Such a gifted musician!
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. I don't know if Solomon is a great storyteller or if Mozart's life was a great story. In either case, who cares, a wonderful biography also for people who don't read music.
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Read during a time in my life when I was really 'into' reading different biographies of Mozart.
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Maynard Solomon was a co-founder of Vanguard Records as well as a music producer, and later became a writer on music
More about Maynard Solomon...

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