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Mozart: The Reign of Love (Hardback)

Jan Swafford

A vivid new biography, toppling the many myths surrounding Mozart, which will undoubtedly be the standard biography for years to come.

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From acclaimed composer and biographer Jan Swafford comes the definitive biography of one of the most lauded musical geniuses in history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

From his earliest years it was apparent that the singular imagination of Wolfgang Mozart was tirelessly at work. He hated to be bored and hated to be idle, and he responded to these threats with a repertoire of antidotes mental and physical, going at every part of his life with tremendous gusto. His circle of friends and patrons was wide, encompassing anyone who appealed to his boundless appetites for music and all things pleasurable and fun.

As a man, Mozart was an inexplicable force of nature who could rise from a luminous improvisation at the keyboard to meow like a cat and leap over the furniture. He was forever drumming on things, tapping his feet, seeming both present and apart. But he also might grasp your hand and gaze at you with a profound, searching and melancholy look in his blue eyes. It was as if Mozart lived onstage and off simultaneously, a character in life’s tragicomedy but also outside of it, watching, studying, gathering material for the fabric of his art.

Like Swafford’s biographies Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and Charles Ives, Mozart is both wide-ranging and intimate in its exploration of a genius in his life and his setting: a man who rose from a particular time and place, whose art would enrich the world for centuries to come, who would immeasurably shape the future of classical music, who from his age to ours has stood as the definition of a prodigy. As Swafford reveals, to understand the evolution of music it is vital to understand this singular genius as a man and an artist.

Critic Reviews

A biography of the Mozart that is so vivid, you feel you could shake hands with him ...Few hearts fail to melt upon encountering his humane, joyous and ravishingly beautiful music. The challenge for any biographer is how to articulate where this elusive magic comes from ...Jan Swafford has met that challenge head on...For many [Mozart's] works are dear old friends. You can come away from this book feeling that he is too.

Jessica Duchen, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

[An] outstanding biography ... accessible and authoritative ... beautifully written and full of astute critical judgements and incisive notes on the works.

Critic Reviews

‘Swafford is a musical authority who certainly understands his subject, leaving almost no stone unturned in pursuing the specifics of Mozart’s life and works. The book is stunningly well researched.’

Stuart Isacoff, Literary Review
Critic Reviews

If tackling an 832-page biography of anybody seems daunting for the general reader, Swafford makes it almost effortless with Mozart, animating his genius
 As a composer himself, [Swafford offers] an astute yet thoroughly approachable analysis, almost piece by piece, of the composer’s entire canon, lingering fittingly on the composer’s major operas
 A virtually indispensable volume for the music collection.

Booklist, starred review
Critic Reviews

The prodigious career of a musical icon
Composer and biographer Swafford brings expertise and insight to bear on a comprehensive, animated life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
deftly [capturing Mozart’s] brilliance in a challenging narrative that is sure to thrill classical music fans
 An admiring, authoritative biography.

Kirkus Reviews
Critic Reviews

‘A terrifically engaging new biography 
 written with a wit, grace and compassion that well befits its subject.’

Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine

Jan Swafford is an American composer and author. He earned his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Harvard College and his M.M.A. and D.M.A. from the Yale School of Music. His teachers in composition included Jacob Druckman at Yale and Betsy Jolas at Tanglewood. Swafford is the author of biographies of Ives, Brahms, and Beethoven. Among many honors, his…

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