This Saturday, July 18, at the Linda Vista Branch Library, the West Pasadena Book Discussion group has taken on a different approach to this month’s meeting. In other words, instead of reading the same book, half of the group is reading a fictional novel about Mozart and the other half is reading a biography about the famous composer! Here are the titles the group has selected:
FIC SHOTWELL, V
In late-eighteenth-century London, a young girl takes her first singing lessons with a mysterious castrato in exile. Her life is forever changed. Having learned everything he can teach her, Anna leaves behind all the security and familiarity of home and journeys to Naples and Venice to struggle and triumph in Italy’s greatest opera houses. Only sixteen, she finds herself in an intoxicating world of theaters, nobility, and vice, overwhelmed by her newfound freedom and fame. Her first bitter experience of love and heartbreak inevitably follows.
Within a few years, Anna is invited to sing in Vienna, the City of Music, by the emperor himself. There, in a teasing game of theft and play, Anna first meets Mozart, a young virtuoso pianist and striving, prodigiously talented composer. They are matched in intellect and talent, and an immediate and undeniable charge occurs between the two, despite both being married to others.
As her star rises in Vienna and her personal life deteriorates, Anna experiences an ultimate crisis. During this trying time, her only light is Mozart: his energy, his determination for her, and his art. She, in turn, becomes his hope and inspiration, and his joy, as he writes for her some of his most exquisite and enduring arias—music that will live on as his masterworks.
92 MOZART, W JOH
Mozart’s music has enthralled listeners for centuries. In this brilliant biography, acclaimed historian Paul Johnson draws upon his expert knowledge of the era and Mozart’s own private letters to conjure Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s life and times in rich detail. Johnson charts Mozart’s life from age three through to his later years—when he penned The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. Along the way, Johnson challenges some of the popular myths that cloud Mozart’s image: his allegedly tempestuous personal relationships and supposedly bitter rivalry with Salieri, as well as the notion that he was desperately impoverished when he died. The result—a bold, invigorating portrait of one of the most popular and influential composers of all time—is a welcome addition to Johnson’s extraordinary body of work and makes a perfect gift for classical music lovers and fans of biographies.
After the book discussion, the Andante Quartet will be performing a selection of Mozart’s quartets at the Linda Vista Branch Library at 3 PM. No registration is required and the event is open to all ages.