[Marxism] Mozart, Da Ponte, revolution

Ian Pace ian at ianpace.com
Fri Apr 14 06:56:42 MDT 2006

>>Last week my wife and son and I attended a satisfactory performance of Don 
>>Giovanni at New York City Opera -- we can afford to do this maybe once a 
>>year given the outrageous ticket prices. Despite the tameness of Harold 
>>Prince's staging the theme of class struggle comes through loud and clear 
>>(premiere was in 1787). Found myself wondering how the opera's premiere 
>>was received by aristocrats and others in the audience -- anyone know any 
>>reliable sources on this, and on the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte?
> I would recommend Maynard Solomon's biographies of both Mozart and 
> Beethoven. Besides being a musicologist, Solomon was the head of Vanguard 
> Records in the 1950s when it was one of the few outlets extant for leftist 
> folksingers. My guess is that he was sympathetic to the CP or perhaps even 
> a member at one time.
Solomon's scholarship has come under serious question, I believe, but I'm 
not sure of the precise details off-hand. There are lots of books dealing 
with the subject at hand, but most of them come from a naive liberal 
viewpoint (typical of the 'New Musicology') rather than a deeper Marxist 
engagement. I will try and post a list later. Avoid Anthony Holden's new 
biography of Da Ponte like the plague (little better than his biographies of 

One of the most interesting engagements with Don Giovanni, to me, is that in 
Edward Dent's now quite old book 'Mozart's Operas'.

Also like to point out that a volume very worth getting is the large 
collection of essays edited by Solomon, called 'Marxism and Art'.


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