Mozart's death on December 5th, 1791, at the age of 35 was an event shrouded in mystery. In this book the author sets out an account of the course of events during Mozart's fateful and productive last year. Other works by the author include a biography of Haydn.
When Haydn left on a concert tour to London in December 1790, Mozart said farewell forever, and most people assumed it was Haydn's health that he was worried about. As we know now, the elder composer was to live for almost two decades more; Mozart, a single year. It was to be a year in which he wrote The Magic Flute, La Clemenza di Tito, and the Clarinet Concerto, as well as most of the Requiem; it was also a year of mounting disappointment in his career as part of the Viennese musical establishment, and a year of growing debt. Robbins Landon is keen to debunk the myths: Mozart was not poisoned ,but died of progressive kidney failure, and Salieri was innocent of his death, though not of promoting his own career at Mozart's expense. Landon defends Mozart's wife, Constanze, against the libels of biographers, though at times his portrait of comfortable bourgeois monogamy sounds like special pleading and overlaps with hints of conscientious bohemian racketiness. This is a wonderful portrait of a great artist and the city where he lived; in passing, Landon tells us everything we need to know about musical life, Masonry, and the truth about that pauper's grave. --Roz Kaveney