Blog Work Articles Links Contact blank

Mozart's Grace

Scott Burnham

ISBN 9780691009100

Princeton University Press, £19.95

200 pp., with 165 musical examples.

Mozart's Grace

Here is analysis and commentary written with considerable enthusiasm and affection. Clearly, Burnham’s target reader is the undergraduate or varsity-educated historical musicologist with a high regard for Mozart, and the requisite prior knowledge of the works examined. That is, one would need to know the meaning of the text of Mozart’s Requiem, or have a translation to hand, for example, before one could profit completely from Burnham’s erudite reflections.

Mozart’s Grace is written with great fervour and yes, grace, together with a deep love of Mozart‘s music. Burnham speaks to members of the senior common-room, those varsity musicians who are at ease with the 165 musical examples (most in full score) and the dense, sometimes specialised, vocabulary (‘agogic’, ‘chroma’, ‘epiphenomena’, ‘jouissance’, ‘noumenon’, ‘penumbra’, ‘praegustatum’, ‘soave’, ‘supramundane’, for example) of the well-educated specialist. That is to say, if you can’t define tonicization, and if a ‘bifocal close’ leaves you puzzled (or perhaps I should say unsighted), then either you are about to enlarge your vocabulary (and will read Mozart’s Grace with your dictionary hard by), or Burnham’s book is not for you.

In these tough economic times one is heartened to see the publication of such a book. Princeton University Press is to be congratulated.

John Robert Brown

Review first published in Classical Music magazine, January 2013; used by kind permission. No reproduction without permission.

Updated and maintained by: routeToWeb