cover image What to Listen for in Mozart

What to Listen for in Mozart

Robert Harris. Simon & Schuster, $24.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-75092-3

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.)