Book Review: Mozart’s Women

Mozart’s Women: His Family, His Friends, His Music was written by accomplished Mozart conductor, Jane Glover.  It was published in 2007, and is 372 pages.  In it, Glover tells the story of the oft written about musical prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in relation to the women in his family, the women who inspired him, and the women who loved him. 

The biography is divided into four sections:  “Mozart’s Family”, “Mozart’s Other Family”, “Mozart’s Women”, and “After Mozart.”  The first two sections present a complete biography of his life, beginning with an account of the travels of the child prodigy, Mozart, his sister (almost his equal in talent), and his parents.  His father, Leopold, is painted as a domineering, motivated, and dour man; but what is most interesting in the early section of the biography, is Glover’s assertion that Mozart’s sister, Nannerl, might have rivaled her brother in talent if she had been given the opportunities that he had been given.  It appears that the siblings did have a very close and supportive relationship with one another until Mozart, in his need to break from his father, went out on his own. 

The next section, “Mozart’s Other Family” deals with his relationship with the Weber family.  The Weber’s had four immensely talented daughters, and reminded him of his own family.  Mozart’s first Weber love was the great opera singer, Aloysia, but some years after she rejected him, he fell in love with and married her younger sister, Constanze.  Constanze and Wolfgang’s marriage would grow to one of great devotion, and her love for Mozart would inspire some of his best works.  This section concludes with the early and untimely death of Mozart while he worked tirelessly (ironically) on his Requiem Mass

The third section of the biography diverges from the linear movement of the book, and digresses into a fascinating, detailed explanation of each of Mozart’s operas, and the women who inspired and performed them. The final section of the book tells about the rest of Constanze’s life, and the lives of her sisters, and Mozart’s own sister. 

I loved this book.  It was an independent bookstore treasure that I stumbled upon at the Hard Bean in Annapolis.  I was drawn to it by the title, and by my own interest in the composer.  My father’s love of classical music, and specifically, Mozart, seeped into my subconscious as I grew, and asserted itself several years ago.  I remember falling in love with Mozart’s music when I saw the movie, Amadeus, over a decade ago.  The balance of music and story in the movie was captivating and inspiring, and might be what started my true love of historical fiction.

Though Glover is profoundly learned, the text of the book is readable and straightforward.  Her love for the composer is transmitted in a clean, warmness of style.  Though her affinity for Mozart is clear, she does not put him on a pedestal, but creates a very human portrayal of a great master.  I had some difficulty with the third section that broke down his operas in such detail.  I would have preferred it to be woven through the linear biography for balance, but that certainly did not take away from my enjoyment of the text. 

I highly recommend this book.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Mozart’s Women

  1. concertblog says:

    I love books like this — about music, about history, etc… I highly recommend FOUR SEASONS by Laurel Corona — fiction based on her research of Vivaldi. I like this website – glad to discover it by way of my LINKEDIN group!

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