Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a child prodigy who became an adult genius, died in debt and was buried in an unmarked grave in his adopted home of Vienna.
Mozart needed no formal lessons in composition. He’d been composing since the age of five, and possessed astonishing musical memory, able to re-create whatever he heard or saw. He could mimic different styles and his travels, which were endless, gave him plenty to imitate whether sacred, dramatic or instrumental. As he said, ‘I can pretty well adapt or conform myself to any style or composition.’ He was not the tortured artist but could compose whilst playing billiards or skittles, ordering the musical ideas in his head so exactly that writing them down was a slightly mechanical affair, requiring little effort. The music was there in its entirety in his head.
Mozart struggled with relationships, revealing a strong sense of abandonment beneath the surface. Quick to judge, he possessed a sharp manner himself, but saw only the upset that others caused him. He had a long list of foes and his battles with them he describes in much detail. A difficult relationship with his controlling father Leopold was partially offset by a happy marriage to Constanze, a genuine oasis in a world he found frustrating. Mozart was a phenomenal performer as well as composer, enjoying moments of great adulation. But these never turned into financial security. For this reason, he was a reluctant piano teacher throughout his life.
‘Conversations with Mozart’ is an imagined conversation with the man behind the music who died largely unnoticed at the age of 35. But while the questions are imagined, Mozart’s words are not; they are all authentically his, taken from his many letters.
He was the eternal child. As his sister Nannerl said, ‘Outside of music he was, and remained, nearly always a child.’ But he was a child with a seat at the very top composers’ table; a conduit for the most perfectly shaped musical argument, sublime harmonies and with a deep understanding of drama and emotion. ‘There’s never a dull moment with Wolfgang,’ says Simon Parke. ‘He’s fascinating on the subject of music, and beguiling on the soap opera of his life. He understood music better than he understood himself, which brought suffering. But he was determined to be cheerful. Hope was always round the next corner for Wolfgang.’
About the author
Simon Parke was a priest in the Church of England for twenty years, before leaving for fresh adventures. He worked for three years in a supermarket, stacking shelves and working on the till. He was also chair of the shop union. He has since left to go free lance, and now writes, leads retreats and offers consultancy.
He has written for The Independent and The Evening Standard, and is currently columnist with the Daily Mail. His weekly supermarket diary, ‘Shelf Life’, ran for 15 months in the Mail on Saturday, and he now contributes another weekly column called ‘One-Minute Mystic.’ The book version of ‘Shelf Life’ has recently been published by Rider. The book version of ‘One-Minute Mystic’ is published by Hay House in Jan.2010.
Other books by Simon include ‘Forsaking the Family’ – a refreshingly real look at family life. Our families made us; yet we understand very little of how our experiences as children still affects us. The book starts by contemplating Jesus’ ambivalence towards his own family, particularly his parents; reflects on how our family settings can both help and harm us; and suggests paths for freedom and authenticity.
‘The Beautiful Life – ten new commandments because life could be better’ was published by Bloomsbury, and describes ten skilful attitudes for life. Simon leads retreats around this book, and talks about it on this site. It is now also available in audio form with White Crow books.
Simon has been a teacher of the Enneagram for twenty years. The enneagram is an ancient and remarkable path of self-understanding, and Simon’s book on the subject, published by Lion, is called ‘Enneagram – a private session with the world’s greatest psychologist.’
‘Another bloody retreat’ is Simon’s desert novel, describing events at the monastery of St James-the-Less set in the sands of Middle Egypt. It follows the fortunes of Abbot Peter and the rest of the community, when the stillness of their sacred setting is rudely and irrevocably shattered.
Simon was born in Sussex, but has lived and worked in London for twenty five years. He has written comedy and satire for TV and radio, picking up a Sony radio award. He has two grown up children and his hobbies include football, history and running. For more information, visit his website http://www.simonparke.com
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published september 27th 2010
Size: 216 x 140 mm