Mozart: The Reign of Love by Jan Swafford - review by Stuart Isacoff

Stuart Isacoff

Piano Man

Mozart: The Reign of Love


Faber & Faber 832pp £30

There is no lack of published biographical material on Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (1756–91), the singular musical genius who put the piano concerto on the map, birthed some of the greatest operas in the repertoire and left behind him a stream of glorious melodies. He was also, from the evidence of his letters, uncouth and childish to the end. Accounts of his short life and his music have ranged from Maynard Solomon’s psychological profile and Jane Glover’s exploration of ‘Mozart’s women’ to Hermann Abert’s hefty biography, which is based on the classic 19th-century work of Otto Jahn and filled with historical detail and perceptive music analysis.

Mozart’s story is that of a sensitive soul with freakish talent who displayed his gifts early on, performing on the keyboard at royal courts with his sister while still a child. He was buffeted by ill fortune, sickness and an overbearing father incessantly chasing after rewards from uncaring patrons. One

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