MOZART AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT

TRUTH, VIRTUE, AND BEAUTY IN MOZART'S OPERAS

An erudite mix of music, history, philosophy, biography, sociology, and even depth psychology—adding up to a triumphant study of Mozart's supreme masterworks. Writers faced with Don Giovanni or The Magic Flute have generally retreated into plot summary or musical analysis. Not so here. Stage-director Till, needing to find practical theatrical solutions to the paradoxes of Mozart's operas—why are those peasants loose in Count Almaviva's palace?—turns for help to Mozart's own intellectual milieu, the ``German enlightenment.'' He weaves the chronology of Mozart's professional progress into a tapestry of 18th-century ideas: the social contract; the ``enlightened despot''; the pursuit of happiness; the moral worth of sentiment; the status of the individual. In a text dense with apt quotation from Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Goethe, and others, Mozart's personal and artistic ambitions are seen playing themselves out against the larger tension of a society striving to reconcile the freedom necessary for bourgeois prosperity with the authority thought necessary to hold that society together. In his early travels, Mozart fed on Enlightenment ideals (e.g., the artist as honored public figure rather than private lackey). He went to Vienna upon the accession of Germany's most enlightened prince, Joseph II, and in the next five ``years of optimism'' produced a host of mature masterpieces. Each opera from La finta giardiniera onward receives full discussion of its connection to contemporaneous social thought, and there is a particularly compelling treatment of the final operas within the context of the ``collapse'' of Joseph's reform program. Mozart's Masonic associations also receive an illuminating presentation. Not all of Till's propositions can be accepted without question, and his occasional forays into psychobiography prove the weakest link, but no matter: Few books provide such a satisfying exploration of the thoughts and feelings from which great art is born. The subtlety and richness of Till's argument cannot be conveyed by prÇcis: A feast for the intellectually adventurous. (Photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: April 26, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03495-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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