W.A. Mozart

Hermann Abert; translated by Stewart Spencer; edited by Cliff Eisen

View Inside Price: $85.00

November 30, 2007
1515 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
ISBN: 9780300072235

Out of Print

Hermann Abert's classic biography, first published in German more than eighty years ago and itself based on the definitive mid-nineteenth century study by Otto Jahn, remains the most informed and substantial biography of Mozart in any language. The book is both the fullest account of the composer’s life and a deeply skilled analysis of his music.
Proceeding chronologically from 1756 to 1791, the book interrogates every aspect of Mozart’s life, influences, and experience; his personality; his religious and secular dimensions; and the social context of the time. In “a book within a book,” Abert also provides close scrutiny of the music, including the operas, orchestral work, symphonies and piano concertos, church music and cantatas, and compositions for solo instruments.
While the tone of Abert’s great work is expertly rendered by Stewart Spencer, developments in Mozart scholarship since the last German edition are signaled by the Mozart scholar, Cliff Eisen, in careful annotations on every page. Supported by a host of leading Mozart scholars, this immense undertaking at last permits English-language readers access to the most important single source on the life of this great composer.

Hermann Abert (1871–1927) was professor at the University of Leipzig, and Germany’s outstanding musicologist of the early twentieth century. Cliff Eisen is reader in historical musicology, King’s College London, and co-editor of The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopaedia. Stewart Spencer is an author, translator, and musical consultant. His most recent translation for Yale University Press was Joachim Kohler’s Richard Wagner: The Last Titan.

“Hermann Abert’s W.A. Mozart has not yet been equaled for its discussion of Mozart’s style.”—Charles Rosen

“[Abert] remains valuable and enlightening and it is, of course, of crucial historical importance in Mozart studies. Non-German-speaking scholars and students suffer from an enormous gap in their perspective.”—David Blake, University of York

“Indispensable. There is no doubt that Abert’s biography of Mozart is the most distinguished and best informed ever written, and it is incomprehensible that it has never been translated into English.”—H.C. Robbins Landon

“A very useful book. Nothing else does the job.”—Laurence Dreyfus, Magdalen College, Oxford

“The book is, of course, a classic—and a very fine book.”—Neil Zaslaw, Cornell University

“A classic, [Abert] still contains a lot more detailed information and discussion than any other book on Mozart.”—Stanley Sadie

'...what makes it stand above all others is its forensic examination of Mozart's personality and its relation to its music.' - Stephen Pritchard, The Observer

"When, eighty-eight years ago, Hermann Abert's W.A. Mozart appeared, it was recognized as the most authoritative survey of the composer's life and works. . . . The 1,500-page monument has finally been issued in an excellent translation by Stewart Spencer and it has turned out to be not only the most satisfactory but also the most readable and entertaining work on Mozart available in English. Nevertheless, so much research has been expended on Mozart since 1919, so much more is known, and so many dates and facts have been corrected and revised that the book could not simply be translated. It had to be brought up to date. This has been done with full respect for the original by Cliff Eisen, one of the most brilliant Mozart scholars of our time."—Charles Rosen, New York Review of Books

"Thanks to Cliff Eisen's commanding editorial hand, and a cracking translation by Stewart Spenser, W.A. Mozart makes its English debut in majestic style."  - Andrew Stewart, Classic FM

"This magnificent new edition constitutes its first appearance in English...Translated with apparently effortless fluency by Stewart Spencer, it has been authoritatively corrected and additionally annotated by another great modern Mozart scholar, Cliff Eisen, whose introduction explains the significance of Abert's magnum opus."  - Rupert Christiansen, Sunday Telegraph

"This 800,000-word biography, regarded as the gold standard in Mozart studies since it first appeared in Germany in 1923, is a monumental effort, available now in English for the first time. In addition to the life that is prfiled, the entire musical oeuvre is examined. Happily for modern readers, the work has been revised and updated."—Nicholas A. Basbanes (Adult Picks for the Holidays 2007)

"Modern Mozart scholarship is indebted to Hermann Abert's groundbreaking biography. . . . Until last year, the book had never been translated into English. Stewart Spencer admirably executed the task . . . and Cliff Eisen, a distinguished Mozart scholar, updated the text with scrupulous and marvelously perceptive annotations. Abert's study is a model of musical biography."—James Penrose, Wall Street Journal

"The importance of this volume cannot be overstated. Since its initial publication (1919-21), it has been acknowledged generally as the most thorough and successful account of the composer's life and work, the touchstone among Mozart studies. . . . The book is absolutely accessible. . . . Every library with music holdings should own two copies of this peerless work, one in the stacks and one in reference. Spencer's translation is superb. . . . Essential. All readers, all levels."—Choice

"Hermann Abert's W.A. Mozart is a monumental achievement—one of the most important biographies of any musician written at any time and in any language. . . . This is enriching, enlightening, indeed essential reading."—Simon P. Keefe, Music & Letters

“…Yale University Press’s magnificent 2007 edition of Herman Abert’s monumental 1921 study of Mozart, a superb example of Teutonic thoroughness, fifteen hundred pages long but freshly illuminating and gripping, and elegantly translated and annotated by Stewart Spencer.” - Rupert Christiansen, The London Library Magazine

"[This book] provides extensive primary source citation and quotation while at the same time providing the page-to-page readability of a typical biography.  More importantly, given the extensively updated footnotes and the over 2,000 sources cited in the bibliography, it could prove to be even more useful as a research tool than as a strict biography." —Bryan Proksch

A 2007 Top Seller in Music as compiled by YBP Library Services

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.