Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Famous Children: Mozart

Famous Children: Mozart

Ann Rachlin
Illustrator:  Susan Hellard 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Barron’s Educational Series Inc., 1992   ISBN: 978-0812049893

It is hard to imagine that someone could compose music when they were only five years old and yet that is just what young Wolfgang, or "Wolfie," Mozart did. Watching his sister Nannerl having lessons with their father made Wolfgang want to have lessons too, and he showed his father that though he was only five, he could play remarkably well for someone so young.

Wolfgang’s father soon took his talented children on a tour to Munich where they played for the grand people of Prince Joseph’s court. The children were a huge success and gave their father every reason to feel very proud indeed.

Their next trip was to Vienna and this time they were to play for the Emperor and Empress. Best of all as far as Wolfgang was concerned was that they got to play with the royal children and they had a wonderful time. When Mozart and his family went back to play for the Emperor and Empress a week later, the Emperor covered up the keys of the clavier to see what Mozart would do. Mozart performed perfectly.

On another occasion Mozart was given a violin as a gift. He was just six years old and hadn’t had a chance to have any violin lessons yet. When some of his father’s friends came over with their musical instruments to play together Mozart wanted to play with them on his new violin. Of course his father told him that this was not possible because the boy had not yet learned how to use the instrument. Mozart was very upset and began to cry. One of the friends took pity on the little boy and asked his father to let him play a little. His father gave in saying that Mozart could play so long as he was very quiet. It wasn’t long before the musicians began to realize that Mozart was playing his violin very well indeed. They stopped playing, and listened with astonishment to the little boy playing the difficult music as if he had been playing the violin for months.

In this delightful little book Ann Rachlin manages to make Mozart's story lively and amusing. We are able to see that though he was undoubtedly a genius and his skills were unlike anything seen before, he was also a little boy who liked to play with other children, who thought nothing of hugging and kissing an Empress, and who cried if he was told that he couldn't do something that he wanted to do. Charming ink and watercolor illustrations bring Mozart's world to life and show him as being the little boy that he was, fun-loving and generous with his affection. At the same time we cannot forget that Mozart was one of the greatest composers of all time who wrote an enormous amount of music in his tragically short life. This book is one of several in a series about the composers.