Mozart in Motion: His Work and His World in Pieces (Hardcover)
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In exhilarating, transformative prose, the poet Patrick Mackie reveals a musician in dialogue with culture at its most sweepingly progressive.
Mozart is one of the most familiar and beloved icons of our culture, but how much do we really understand about his music, and what can it reveal to us about the great composer?
Following Mozart from his youth in Salzburg to his early death, from his close and rivalrous relationship with his father to his romantic attachments, from his hugely successful operas to intimate compositions on the keyboard, Patrick Mackie leads the reader through the major and lesser-known moments of the composer’s life and brings alive the teeming, swiveling modernity of eighteenth-century Europe. In this era of rococo painting, surrealist aesthetics, and political turbulence, Mozart reckoned with a searing talent that threatened to overwhelm him, all the while pushing himself to extraordinary feats of musicianship.
In Mozart in Motion, we are returned to the volatility of the eighteenth century and hear Mozart’s music in all its audacious vividness, gaining fresh perspectives on why his works still move us so intensely today as we continue to search for a modernity he imagined into being.
"A welcome reminder that the universe reflected in Mozart’s operas, symphonies, concertos, and chamber works was very much shaped by political and social currents—some of which reflect the anxieties and hopes of our own time as well . . . Mozart’s music continues to inspire love because it holds space for sensual delight and evinces a knowing, generous view of humanity. It 'can relay pleasure while analyzing it,' as Mackie puts it. For ardent Mozarteans and classical-curious streamers, [Mozart in Motion] will do the same.”
—Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The Atlantic
“[Mackie] demonstrates persuasively—and passionately—how the nuances of a Mozart score don’t merely reflect but embody the central concerns of biography and history . . . Fresh, revealing, and poetic perceptions . . . Such resonant understanding of the deep implications of Mozart’s music is the main reason to read yet another book on Mozart, though I don’t want to minimize Mr. Mackie’s excellence as a traditional biographer.”
—Lloyd Schwartz, The Wall Street Journal
“Mackie’s extraordinary knowledge, thoughtful insights, and exemplary prose make the book insightful, thought provoking, and enjoyable. Reading the essays is like attending a concert with a friend who is exceptionally well-read and articulate. Rare is the reader who will digest these essays without immediately wanting to listen to whatever piece of music has just been examined.”
—Terry W. Hartle, Christian Science Monitor
“Erudite, ambitious and elegantly written . . . Mackie’s assertions about the ways Mozart’s identification with his era come through in the music are intriguing and insightful . . . His writing is fresh and imaginative, showing feeling for the musical character and dramatic narrative of a piece.”
—Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times Book Review
“A book that will unquestionably stand among the more poignant investigations of Mozart and his genius, Mozart in Motion . . . is a serious study of the composer’s character and music as it first within the context of European manners and mores in the second half of the eighteenth century.”
—Ryan Asmussen, Chicago Review of Books
“Mackie’s approach is to situate the composer as an avatar of modernism, facing a fragmented high culture—caught between dry, ritualized forms of courtly music and the ‘hedonistic levity’ betokened by Enlightenment individualism. By laying such tensions bare, Mackie achieves for Mozart what Mozart himself did for music, time and time again: to make the old new, and intelligible as such.”
—Robert Erickson, The New Criterion
“The author is a careful listener to the music on its own terms and in its own time . . . Mackie also emphasizes Mozart’s utterly groundbreaking blend of seriousness and giddiness . . . Ambitious and brilliant: a book that rethinks Mozart’s place in history and one that should win him new fans along the way.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Writing a biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart nowadays is no easy task . . . But Patrick Mackie exploits his background in both poetry and academia in an effort to bring Mozart to life in new ways . . . The result is still a familiar portrait of Mozart, but one that is painted in new colors.”
—Krysta Fauria, Associated Press
"An exemplary intervention in this kind of cultural critique . . . Mackie is a sensitive and highly intelligent appraiser of musical form, with a gift for analyzing Mozart’s music as the dynamic enactment—rather than the simple expression—of larger cultural and biographical energies.”
—James Wood, The New Yorker
“Patrick Mackie’s vibrant biography has something of the 18th-century dash and panache that he evokes in Mozart . . . Mr. Mackie is a soloist who writes on a world stage with a sententiousness that made 18th-century biography seem not merely the story of another’s life, but a story that could only emanate from a singular voice that had something unique to tell us.”
—Carl Rollyson, New York Sun
“Mackie’s prose gathers momentum by tackling the music’s rich contradictions . . . If Mackie’s voice flirts with pretense, a close reading reveals keen ears and a lively imagination, especially for opera fans . . . Mackie challenges received ideas and offers descriptions that may yet prove worthy of his subject.”
—Tim Riley, Truthdig
“In an intriguing blend of biography and deft musical analysis, poet Mackie creates a gallery of the composer’s masterpieces expertly framed in the cultural setting of eighteenth-century Europe . . . After perusing the pages of this thoughtful and beautifully written book, readers will want to discover, or rediscover, the timeless music of this beloved composer.”
—Carolyn Mulac, Booklist