Revealing a man behind a myth
Mozart is arguably the most popular composer in the history of classical music.
Studies around the world have looked into the theory that listening to Mozart can make us smarter and create geniuses of unborn children.
But what of the man behind the myth?
Award-winning author and illustrator Donovan Bixley’s latest book delves into who this Mozart really was, and he’s coming to Napier to launch it at Wardini Books on National Bookshop Day, Saturday, October 27.
What makes Mozart so special?Why choose Mozart instead of another composer?
I’d actually intended to make a book on Beethoven, but stumbled across the Mozart family letters instead.
I randomly flicked to a page, and read about Mozart telling fart jokes at a party. I flicked to another page and read a devastating description of his love-sick piano pupil.
Immediately I had some very vivid pictures in my head. He was so unlike the sombre old portraits used on every Mozart CD cover, and I wanted to present this incredibly lively and humorous genius in the format of an illustrated biography.
How on earth do you research someone so prolific?
The majority of my research comes from the Mozart family letters.
With Mozart being a famous prodigy from the age of five, his father kept hundreds of family letters and documents, poems and news articles all in the hope of one day writing a biography of his famous son.
This massive tome of correspondence is something that the average person would never read, but it offers a very personal insight, and allow us right into the heart of the Mozart family, sharing all their dramas, their joy and tears, their triumphs and frustrations first hand.
How do you know what to include and what to cut?
The hardest part was deciding what to put in and what to leave out. I’ve tried to present Mozart as a wellrounded character — the cheeky younger brother, prodigious child, rebellious son, the overconfident young man, the doting husband and father, as well as the despondent freelancer. I wanted to make Mozart very accessible by focusing on his personal journey as an artist. Although this book is for adults, my background as a children’s book author and illustrator really help me focus on not getting too lost in all the obsessive details. I’ve had to resist the urge to put in everything I know.
■ The end result is a stunner of a book. Accessible and beautifully illustrated, it’s a fabulous literary picture book. Donovan will be launching Mozart: The Man Behind the Music at Wardini Books, 44 Hastings Street in Napier from 4pm on Saturday, October 27. All welcome.
Donovan Bixley has written a book about Mozart.