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Reviewed by:
  • The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia
  • Laurel E. Zeiss
The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia. Edited by Cliff Eisen and Simon P. Keefe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. [xi, 674 p. ISBN 0-521-85659-0. $175.00.] Appendices, bibliographical references, indexes.

The 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth has been celebrated with performances, symposia, recordings, and publications. One of the most comprehensive of the latter is The Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia. This reference book aims to "function both as a starting point for information on specific works, people, places and concepts as well as a summation of current thinking about Mozart" (p. xi). Edited by Cliff Eisen and Simon P. Keefe, the encyclopedia does an admirable job of covering Mozart's life, his music, and the world in which he lived through concise articles written by leading European and American scholars.

As promised in the book's preface, the volume covers a wide range of subjects. It includes articles on broad topics such as the Enlightenment, travel, aesthetics, and the German language. One of the best of these broader entries is William Stafford's discussion of the concept of genius. Stafford addresses competing definitions of the term, how it has been applied and misapplied to Mozart, and how the composer himself employed the word. The encyclopedia also contains more general essays on musical topics and their relation to the composer. Andrea Lindmayr-Brandl's essay on dance, for example, discusses the role of social dancing in Mozart's life and the culture at large, as well as its role in Mozart's music. Lengthy articles on symphonies, chamber music, concertos, sonatas, and other musical genres detail Mozart's creative output. In addition to music analysis, these essays examine where and why Mozart composed the music he did and explores modern as well as eighteenth-century perspectives on these forms.

Many of the encyclopedia's entries cover Mozart's contemporaries: the composers, patrons, performers, and poets with whom he worked and competed. Often these brief biographies incorporate lively quotes from the Mozart family's letters. The volume also contains articles about earlier composers (e.g., Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach) which discuss Mozart's familiarity with their music and how perhaps it influenced his own. A few articles examine Mozart's influence on later composers such as Beethoven. At least one curious omission exists in the encyclopedia's biographical essays, however. While the book includes entries on most of the singers who premiered the composer's operas, Vincenzo Calvesi, the first Ferrando, is absent. The volume also lacks an entry for composer Georg Benda, whose melodramas Mozart admired.

One of the encyclopedia's strong points is its articles on the countries and cities in which Mozart lived and worked. Of these, Mary Sue Morrow's essay on Vienna is particularly well crafted; it describes clearly and concisely the city's political, economic, and social structures, its musical life, and elucidates their impact on Mozart's career. Similar essays on Prague, London, Paris, and Mannheim explain their significance in eighteenth-century culture and the composer's life.

Another of the book's strengths is that it covers the role of religion and sacred music in Mozart's life quite thoroughly. Not only does the encyclopedia include long articles on the Mass and Mozart's Requiem but also ones on motet, litany, and offertory. An article [End Page 584] titled "Religion and Liturgy" by Bruce C. MacIntyre places Mozart's sacred works in context by discussing Salzburg as a church state, the city's distinctive liturgical practices, Joseph II's reforms, and the increasing toleration of religious minorities. The encyclopedia's biography of the composer devotes an entire section to Mozart's religious beliefs and conduct; Ruth Halliwell's discussion of Mozart's education also stresses its religious framework. In covering sacred music and religion so extensively, the encyclopedia upholds its promise to "reflect the latest in scholarship" (p. xi). With the exception of the Requiem, musicologists traditionally have focused on Mozart's secular works and the influence of Enlightenment thought on his music; increasingly scholars such as MacIntyre, Halliwell, and others have...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-150X
Print ISSN
0027-4380
Pages
pp. 584-586
Launched on MUSE
2007-02-20
Open Access
No
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