BROPHY: Mozart the dramatist

At a time when amateur evaluation of
composers and their music was giving way to scholarly, musicological
examination, Brophy published this volume in 1964 as both a passion and a
love. She did a revised edition of the
book in 1988, of which this is a 2006 reprint.

1988 preface indicates a number of expansions and amendations from the 1964
edition. Obviously, the references
section was revised and updated. Brophy
goes into an extended diatribe in her preface about musicological performances
of Mozart operas, which hide the drama and feeling of opera seria just because the plot is based on Greek mythology or
history. She then goes into some of the
historical background of the composition of the operas Idomeneo, La clemenza di Tito,
and Die Zauberflˆte.

chapter titles throughout the book hint to the reader of a previous music
writing style that was then moving towards extinction. Chapters like Singing and Theology, Compulsive
Seduction, The Quest for Pleasure, and Society’s Guilt are geared more towards
the music-listening and music-loving public, rather than a small group of
scholarly colleagues or a profession. Here, the purpose of the book is to explore one person’s love and
passion for a composer and his works vividly, and to share that listening and
historical experience with others who share the same feelings. As Brophy goes through each of Mozart’s
operas, providing both historical background as well as biographical
information, she also links the musical experience of listening to these operas
as a valued and important component of understanding and enlightenment. Neither musicologist nor musician, Brophy’s
writing nevertheless is detailed and poignant, more like hyperextended program
notes instead of a dry, sterile accounting of tonal modalities or rigorous
musicological research.

remember finding and reading books like this as a young adult, looking for
others whose fascination and love of music was the focus of the writing. One cannot find these types of writing today,
as it has been subsumed in the larger sphere of “music appreciation,” which
oftentimes is as sterile and unfeeling as scholarly works on the subject. I found Brophy’s book nicely written and
wonderfully personal, something that was written as a personal passion rather
than as a scholarly requirement. In this
sense, anyone who loves Mozart and his operas will find this book to be a real
treat, a sharing of interest and feeling from one Mozart lover to another.

Dr. Brad Eden
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

image_description=Brigid Brophy: Mozart the Dramatist
product_title=Brigid Brophy: Mozart the Dramatist
product_by=(London: Libris, 2006)
product_id=ISBN: 1 870352 90 4
price=£ 16.95