Re­veal­ing a man be­hind a myth

Hastings Leader - - News -

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.

The hard­est part was de­cid­ing what to put in and what to leave out. I’ve tried to present Mozart as a well-rounded 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.

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.

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