Tuesday, October 18, 2011
For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart
by Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Tricycle Press, 2011
The reviewer obtained a copy of the book from her public library.
One of the many things I enjoy about nonfiction is how authors can take a topic that is widely-known and shed new light upon it. For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart was recently nominated for a CYBILS award, so I checked out a copy from my local library. I thought I had a solid understanding of the life of Wolfgang Mozart and his music, but I had no idea his sister was a musical genius.
Rusch organizes the story into movements so that it mirrors a sonata. The subject of this picture biography is Wolfgang Mozart's sister, Maria Anna Mozart, also known as Nannerl. Maria was a prodigy on the piano, her young brother admired her skills on the piano. When Wolfgang was older, the siblings traveled across Europe performing for kings, queen, dukes and duchesses. As the children matured, Maria was left behind while Wolfgang and his father went on tour. Wolfgang became the center of attention while Maria was left at home; it was not appropriate for a young woman to perform in public. Yet, Maria didn't give up on music. Maria collaborated with her brother to compose symphonies. She kept playing, for the love of music, even after she married and had children of her own.
The intricate illustrations reflect the time period. Fabric is layered to form borders on many pages. The fabric, paper, oil and acrylic illustrations create rich textures on each page. Manuscript paper displaying musical notes is used throughout the illustrations including on carriages, pianos, wallpaper, and stone archways. An author's note with more details about Maria's life is included in the back of the book. A bibliography lists the books, letters, and interviews that Rusch used during her research.
This is a book that is meant to be read together, to be shared and savored. Teachers, librarians and parents, take note, it would make an excellent read aloud and would lead to interesting discussions about history, music, and art. Even though this is not a book that students will be clamoring to check out, it's a gorgeous book that deserves a spot in a biography collection.