Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, aka "Mozart," was one of the greatest musical
geniuses. At the age of five, he traveled all over Europe by stage coach with his
father and older sister, playing for kings and queens. His life story is told
in the documentary In Search of Mozart, a dazzling kaleidoscope of music and
Director Phil Grabsky became
obsessed with Mozart after hearing one of his operas. In the thrall of this
obsession, he shows every apartment where Mozart lived, the roads he traveled, and the palaces where he was welcomed as a music virtuoso.Grabsky also interviews the greatest performers of Mozart living today, and the true jewels of
this documentary are these interviews. All of the musicians and singers
interviewed are born teachers, and show by example on keyboard or by singing
why Mozart is so amazing.
In a way this documentary is
an investigation into the nature of genius, in particular, Mozart's genius. He
was unusual in that not only was he a musical prodigy, but he was a normal
person. Apparently many musical prodigies suffer from psychological quirks that
render their music unlistenable. But Mozart had a sunny disposition, and much
of his music is filled with joy.
Running 2-1/4 hours long,
this is a lot of Mozart, but it easily can be watched in two sittings. Or it
can be consumed in one long, delicious slurp of gorgeous scenery, beautiful
music, and interesting Mozartian factoids. For instance, Mozart was barely five
feet tall and had long blond hair. Who knew?
A good follow-up to In
Search of Mozart, is Amadeus, directed by Milos Forman. A very much
fictionalized account of the life of Mozart that is dismissed by scholars as
not historically accurate, many Mozart fans were first turned on to his music
through this film. If you can listen to the Queen of the Night sing her famous
aria without your spine tingling, you are made of tougher stuff than me!
If you enjoy watching In
Search of Mozart, you will be happy to know that director Grabsky went on to
make In Search of Beethoven. A similarly dense pudding of letters, musical
demonstrations, and location shots, you will come away with a better
appreciation of this genius, who many consider to be the greatest composer of