A skilled divertimento paced by gracefully styled ""letters"" which Mozart could very well have written at fourteen during his Italian trip with his father from December of 1769 to March, 1771. Monjo has reconstructed with care and spirit the flavor of the cities the Mozarts visited, the frenetic music scene of the times (there's a lively view of an opera audience at their noisy games), the doubtful pleasures attendant on the patronage system, and the peculiarities and problems of opera production. There are insights into the incredible strain placed upon the young musician/composer tirelessly driven to creation and performance by his entrepreneur/violinist father, Leopold. Yet Wolfgang writes ""Horseface,"" his sister, with the buoyancy of a youngster eagerly confronting new sights, places, ideas and dreams. Only occasionally are there poignant Mozartian notes as when he has the pathetically rare joy of friendship with someone his age or as in the response to his father's "". . . your reputation is made! ""Poor Papa! Always so hard at work!"" Along the way there are cheerful translations of Italian (""servitore umillissimo""), explications of musical terms and hints of opi to come. And throughout there is the boy's seemingly carefree ""Tra-la-la-liera""--both a kind of bravura tune-out on things like overwork or a toothache, and a simple expression of high spirits. The handsome sketches echo the mood like the most decorative of violin obligatos. With notes and bibliography, for the unhurried and discerning.