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The late Stanley Sadie, the most distinguished musicologist of his generation, completed the first of a projected two-volume biography of Mozart not long before he died. With his comprehensiveeven startlingcommand of every detail from Mozart's life and every phrase from his music, Professor Sadie provides a blessed antidote to the accumulation of rank myth and imprudent speculation generally surrounding the early years of Mozart. Such irresponsible biography is not hard to account for, in light of the mystique of the boy prodigy. In Mozart: The Early Years, Sadie deftly shows how needless that sort of tale-spinning is, by uncovering instead the limitless interest of the facts themselves. It is a sad loss that he could not finish his second volume, on Mozart's final decade in Vienna.
Michael Alec Rose is a composer and professor at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches a course on Mozart.