The best books about Mozart

5 authors have picked their favorite books about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and why they recommend each book.

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Mozart's Starling

By Lyanda Lynn Haupt,

Book cover of Mozart's Starling

I picked up this book when I was writing my book about rape and was immediately reminded about the joys of music and art and birds and all the unlikely connections life has to offer. Mozart wrote music inspired by a starling, and the author, inspired by a baby starling in her own life, followed his story to Europe and back. Most unexpected, most illuminating. Gravity-defying because the Muse follows no earthly laws.

Mozart's Starling

By Lyanda Lynn Haupt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mozart's Starling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

My book is ostensibly about rape. But it’s mostly about breaking out of the way we are taught to think, about turning things inside-out and checking out the hidden parts, about joy and rage and unexpected twists. So I am attracted to anyone who does this: defies gravity, finding monsters in clouds, and salvation in birds.


I wrote...

Book cover of What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

What is my book about?

After surviving gang-rape at seventeen in Mumbai, Sohaila Abdulali was indignant about the deafening silence that followed and wrote a fiery piece about the perception of rape--and rape victims--for a women's magazine. Thirty years later, with no notice, her article reappeared and went viral in the wake of the 2012 fatal gang-rape in New Delhi, prompting her to write a New York Times op-ed about healing from rape that was widely circulated. Now, Abdulali has written What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape--a thoughtful, generous, unflinching look at rape and rape culture.

Quartet In Farewell Time

By Mary B. Durant,

Book cover of Quartet In Farewell Time

Mary Durant was my mother. This was her first novel, published in 1963. When I read it, the proverbial light bulb popped to life in my very young head: I recognized the real-life people and events upon whom the characters and plot were based, and because of that familiarity, saw the way my mother had changed things around, invented circumstances, conversations and fashioned composite characters to create a story. It was a behind-the-scenes crash course in the art of fiction-writing, the marvelous synthesis by which the novelist spins fact and invention into literature. And I understood that really good fiction, though technically a "made up" story, is always imbued with Truth with a capital "T," and that great writing and Truth are inextricably intertangled.

My mother was a first-rate writer and reader, and because of her, I was initiated into the quasi-secret bandwidth of real literature. The key: it’s all…

Quartet In Farewell Time

By Mary B. Durant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quartet In Farewell Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I took an early plunge into literature because of my very smart, highly literate parents, and it shaped my young brain. When my brilliant mother came down with Alzheimer’s, I had been a professional published writer for years, with a penchant for the non-pollyanna side of life. Here was the perfect subject matter. My aim was to take on her disintegration and downfall and turn it into art, to produce something as pitiless and unladylike as the disease itself. If people learn something about Alzheimer’s by reading it, that’s fine. But my larger purpose was to do her (and my) ordeal justice via the powers she bestowed on me.


I wrote...

Death in Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Daughter, Her Mother, and the Beast Called Alzheimer's

By Eleanor Cooney,

Book cover of Death in Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Daughter, Her Mother, and the Beast Called Alzheimer's

What is my book about?

When her once-glamorous and witty novelist-mother got Alzheimer's, Eleanor Cooney moved her from Connecticut to California to care for her. Intense, searing prose, punctuated with the blackest of humor, Cooney documents the slow erosion of her mother's mind, the powerful bond the two shared, and her own descent into drink and despair.

As her mother gropes in the gathering darkness for a grip on the world she once knew, succeeding only in conjuring sad fantasies of places and times with her late husband, Cooney revisits their true past. Death in Slow Motion becomes the mesmerizing story of Eleanor's actual childhood, straight out of the pages of John Cheever; the daring, brilliant mother she remembers; and a time that no longer exists for either.

The Murder of Figaro

By Susan Larson,

Book cover of The Murder of Figaro

If Canone Inverso is your main course, The Murder of Figaro is the perfect dessert. It is light, frothy, and witty as a Mozart comic opera. As it should be, since the main characters are Mozart and his wife Constanze. Together, the frolicking pair must speedily solve the backstage murder of the government censor; otherwise, Mozart’s new opera, The Marriage of Figaro, will never see the light of day. Larson herself was an accomplished opera singer and has thorough insight into the opera world: the music, the business, and the backstage backstabbing. Written as a delightful opera buffa, this book is an absolutely fun read.

The Murder of Figaro

By Susan Larson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Murder of Figaro as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’ve spent a lifetime as a professional classical musician and a mystery reader. Starting with Hardy Boys adventures at the same time I started playing the violin, my intertwined love affairs with music and the mystery genre continue to this day. As a long-time member of major American symphony orchestras, I’ve heard and experienced so many stories about the dark corners of the classical music world that they could fill a library. It gives me endless pleasure to read other mystery authors’ take on this fascinating, semi-cloistered world and to share some of my own tales with the lay public in my Daniel Jacobus mystery series.


I wrote...

Cloudy with a Chance of Murder: A Daniel Jacobus Mystery

By Gerald Elias,

Book cover of Cloudy with a Chance of Murder: A Daniel Jacobus Mystery

What is my book about?

Cloudy With a Chance of Murder is the 7th and most recent installment of the critically acclaimed Daniel Jacobus mystery series. Jacobus is a curmudgeonly, reclusive, blind violin teacher with an acerbic wit, who manages to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into baffling murder cases. Drawing upon his exquisitely honed other senses, especially hearing, he has an uncanny knack for solving crimes while getting himself into hot water.


The setting for Cloudy is the Antelope Island Chamber Music Festival in the middle of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. A violent storm erupts, leaving Jacobus and his protégée, Yumi Shinagawa, trapped on the island with a homicidal maniac on the loose. Two administrators of the festival have already been murdered. Will Yumi be the third?

Amadeus

By Peter Shaffer,

Book cover of Amadeus: A Play by Peter Shaffer

“What the American public wants in the theater is a tragedy with a happy ending.”

- William Dean Howell

Not so much the British public, I guess. Years ago, I found this play in the remainder bin of a book store and bought it because I’d enjoyed Sleuth, not realizing there were two Schaffer brother playwrights…who, it turns out, had a major sibling rivalry thing going on. The movie was remarkable but the play really drives home Salieri’s fury at God. Resilience, it turns out can be effectively weaponized: especially when you’re the director of the Italian opera, a court-savvy sneak, and a jealous sidewinder. First on his “to do” list? Seduce Mozart’s wife… But by thoroughly destroying Wolfi, Salieri loses his humanity in the process. There’s always a snag.

Amadeus

By Peter Shaffer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amadeus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m a writer (‘natch) and work with my fabulous wife, Susan McLennan. We’re winners of two regional Emmy awards and have created and/or written television shows for PBS, Disney, BBC, and CBC. I’ve always gravitated toward characters who really get put through the physical and emotional ringer. If they’re enduring an outlandish pile-on of hardships, I’m with them all the way. I’m not sure what this says about me, but what I love is how these hard done by characters find ways to turn things around and stagger to victory, often when all seems lost–not by magic, not by divine intervention, but thanks to some unseen force inside themselves.


I wrote...

I Got You A Present!

By Mike Erskine-Kellie,

Book cover of I Got You A Present!

What is my book about?

I Got You A Present! follows a heroic mallard (let’s call him Duckie) on his epic quest to get you, the reader, the best birthday present. Ever! But nothing goes right. 

The ten-scoop ice cream cone is a disaster to carry, the magic kit disappears (just like magic!), and an apple juice-fueled jetpack still has a few kinks to work out. Poor Duckie ends up in a race against time to show you how much he cares. But in the end, he has nothing… Or maybe there is something here... It’s the thought that counts, amiright? While the book might be about birthdays, it helps kids navigate the difficulties of setbacks and failures while inspiring them to understand what’s really important: friendship and resilience.

Mozart's Wife

By Juliet Waldron,

Book cover of Mozart's Wife

I loved this book. I adore Mozart and reading about him through the eyes of his wife, was so well done in this book. We see Mozart brought to life from his early days as a young child to his struggles with his father as an adult. Waldron captured Mozart’s brilliance, his silliness, and his all-around personality with his family. She also shows the reader that behind this man, was a woman who supported her husband despite his frivolous spending and disregard for authority. This novel was well done, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Mozart behind his music.

Mozart's Wife

By Juliet Waldron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mozart's Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’ve been a reader and writer of historical fiction for as long as I remember. As a writer, my goal is to bring these figures from the past alive again. These were real people and I want my readers to see that they are not just photos or stories in a history book.


I wrote...

Sleeping With the Impaler: A Historical Romance About Vlad the Impaler

By Juliana Cummings,

Book cover of Sleeping With the Impaler: A Historical Romance About Vlad the Impaler

What is my book about?

The year is 1457. Prince Vlad Dracul now sits on the throne of Wallachia. Seventeen-year-old Anastasia Holszanska, the bastard daughter of Hungarian war hero, John Hunyadi, finds herself betrothed to the new Prince, at the request of her father. As Anastasia travels to Targoviste Palace, she is filled with trepidation about her marriage, for she has heard unspeakable things about Prince Dracul and the way he deals with his enemies. But Anastasia discovers a side to her new husband that she never dreamed of. She never thought she would fall in love with a man who impales and tortures those who disagree with him. But along with Vlad’s thirst for power and cruelty, there lies a profound love that only Anastasia can comprehend.

How to Fly a Horse

By Kevin Ashton,

Book cover of How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

I used this in class the last semester I taught at Duke; had I continued to teach I would have used it again. The students and I found it was two things—as it tells the Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery it also spotlights creative strategies and entrepreneurial behaviors in the stories it shares. It’s an entertaining history and narrative of creative and entrepreneurial successes; both teach us, guide us, maybe even inspire us. I’m the father of three daughters and appreciated the stories he’s uncovered of many life-changing innovations that women led but men claimed. 

How to Fly a Horse

By Kevin Ashton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Fly a Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the vein of Susan Cain's QUIET and Malcolm Gladwell's DAVID AND GOLIATH, HOW TO FLY A HORSE is a smart, empowering book that dispels the myths around genius and creativity.

There is a myth about how something new comes to be; that geniuses have dramatic moments of insight where great things and thoughts are born whole. Poems are written in dreams. Symphonies are composed complete. Science is accomplished with eureka shrieks. Businesses are built by magic touch.

The myth is wrong. Anyone can create. Necessity is not the mother of invention. We all are.

In How to Fly a…

Who am I?

I never believed the idea that creativity was for a gifted few. Throughout my life, as a teenage fishing guide, an entrepreneur and college professor, novelist, and creativity guide, the folks I’ve met are rich with creative and entrepreneurial qualities. My calling is to help you appreciate your creative genius so that it appreciates in value for you. Growing your creatively entrepreneurial genius is the best way to prepare for a future of unknowable unknowns, the best way to build careers we desire, the best way to fully appreciate life. I offer various perspectiveS on core creative and entrepreneurial concepts so you can construct the best path to your personal renewal and growth.


I wrote...

Becoming A Creative Genius (again)

By Carl Nordgren,

Book cover of Becoming A Creative Genius (again)

What is my book about?

Research NASA participated in found that 98% of us at age 4 perform on creativity assessments at levels NASA labels Creative Genius but by age 25 only 4% of us do. This book is the best of my courses taught to 2,000 Duke students to help them reclaim their creative genius—they do, having fun along the way.

As an entrepreneur I develop creative talent continuously; as a teacher, I study relevant neuroscience and social science research regularly; as a novelist, I explore personal creative habits; as a woods walker and animal husbandman, I live with natural creative forces. All those are sources for what I teach in a short book with a bias for action throughout.

Art & Fear

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Book cover of Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

A guide to making art for those of use who are not geniuses. Don’t worry about making a masterpiece, just make your pieces of art. If you have a hard time letting yourself make bad art, so that you can one day make great art, this is the one to start with.

Art & Fear

By Ted Orland, David Bayles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art & Fear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Art & Fear is about the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn't get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. Drawing on the authors' own experiences as two working artists, the book delves into the internal and external challenges to making art in the real world, and shows how they can be overcome every day.

First published in 1994, Art & Fear quickly became an underground classic, and word-of-mouth has placed it among the best-selling books on artmaking and creativity. Written by artists for artists, it…

Who am I?

Paulette Perhach is an author and writing coach with work in the New York Times, Elle, Vice, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her book is Welcome to the Writer's Life, which was selected as one of Poets & Writers' Best Books for Writers. She helps other writers figure out how to make a life and identity out of being a writer while making the money work (as she figures it out for herself.) She continues to write about writing craft, business skills, personal finance, and joy on her website.


I wrote...

Welcome to the Writer's Life: How to Design Your Writing Craft, Writing Business, Writing Practice, and Reading Practice

By Paulette Perhach,

Book cover of Welcome to the Writer's Life: How to Design Your Writing Craft, Writing Business, Writing Practice, and Reading Practice

What is my book about?

With warmth and humor, Paulette Perhach welcomes you into the writer's life as someone who has once been on the outside looking in. Like a freshman orientation for writers, this book includes an in-depth exploration of all the elements of being a writer--from your writing practice to your reading practice, from your writing craft to the all-important and often-overlooked business of writing.

In Welcome to the Writer's Life, you will learn how to tap into the powers of crowdsourcing and social media to grow your writing career. Perhach also unpacks the latest research on success, gamification, and lifestyle design, demonstrating how you can use these findings to further improve your writing projects. Complete with exercises, tools, checklists, infographics, and behind-the-scenes tips from working writers of all types, this book offers everything you need to jump-start a successful writing life.

Book cover of The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time

Years ago, someone gave this book to me for Valentine’s Day; and I literally drowned in the pages, the naked emotion. The next Valentine’s Day I bought copies for several friends. I would call this collection more beautiful than romantic; with each love letter, you hear love from various perspectives and time periods.

The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time

By David Lowenherz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m a Korean American author who believes life is too short to read books that bore you, classics or otherwise. I’ve always had eclectic tastes and like to pick out books the way customers choose bonbons at my chocolate shop (which I’ve co-owned since 1984). And while I do read and often write longer works, I’ve always preferred to fall into a world from the opening line and bow out soon thereafter. By nature, I’m a minimalist – and maybe don’t have the greatest attention span – so I’m in awe of short works that stand on their own. They’re just more dramatic and memorable to me.


I wrote...

That Lonely Spell

By Frances Park,

Book cover of That Lonely Spell

What is my book about?

Frances Park’s parents arrived in the United States decades before the mass migration of Koreans. Her background and memory are rich with unique histories that work their way into That Lonely Spell, a collection of humor and heartache that covers much emotional ground from the innocent Sixties to the wild Seventies to the entrepreneurial Eighties – all the way to today. Kirkus Reviews praised her memoir with “Heart and humanity shine through in essays that speak to a fierce love of family and longing for home.” 

The Story Orchestra

By Katy Flint, Jessica Courtney-Tickle (illustrator),

Book cover of The Story Orchestra: The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute is my absolute favorite opera, and I remember the countless hours I spent listening to songs on CDs. For my birthday one year, my parents gave me a movie of a live performance of The Magic Flute by the Metropolitan Opera, and I watched the movie at least 10 times. Thus, when I found this book on the bookshelf of my library, I knew I had to sit down and read it. I became immersed in the book, following along with Prince Tamino and his journey while listening to the excerpts of the opera recorded in the pages. The tale captivates the readers and introduces them to the world of music. 

The Story Orchestra

By Katy Flint, Jessica Courtney-Tickle (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story Orchestra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the sorcery of The Magic Flute in this musical retelling of the opera - push the button on each beautiful scene to hear the vivid sound of an orchestra playing, and singers singing, from Mozart's score.

This tale of a prince, a princess and a magic flute begins in a mountain ridge between two magical lands. Prince Tamino enters, chased by a dragon, but three brave mountain rangers gallop past on horseback to rescue him.

His cowardly friend Papageno comes out from his hiding place and they revive the prince. The rangers ask for one favour in return. Their…

Who am I?

I’ve been playing the violin since I was 3, so as of 2022, it’s been 15 years. I believe that music unifies, and is a catalyst for social change, social justice, and equity. I’ve written two children’s books about different powers of music: Bailey Brings Her Friends Together with Music and The Aria in Me. With both of these books, I donate 100% of my proceeds to Kidznotes, a local North Carolinian organization, which provides underserved youth ensemble-based music instruction for personal, social, academic, and musical development and growth. I chose this list to inspire and captivate young readers and hopefully help them fall in love with music. :)


I wrote...

Bailey Brings Her Friends Together with Music

By Kali Bate,

Book cover of Bailey Brings Her Friends Together with Music

What is my book about?

Seven-year-old Bailey finds herself in the middle of a fight over the last pair of ice skates while visiting the Rockefeller Center in NYC. As the kids fight and fight, it seems like a perfect holiday on the ice will be ruined. But then, Bailey discovers a group of musicians playing beautiful melodies nearby. Will Bailey be able to use the power of music to end the fight and bring holiday cheer to all? 100% of all sale proceeds are donated to Kidznotes, a North Carolina non-profit organization that empowers students to thrive with the power of music.

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