The Mozart Question Michael Morpurgo, ill. Michael Foreman, Walker Books, 2008, 72 pages, hardback, NZ $ 29.99
“Someone once told me that all secrets are lies. The time has come, I think, not to lie any more.” A world-famous violinist, Paolo Levi, takes pity on Lesley, an embarrassed, young reporter who is floundering her way through an interview with him. All the reporter knows is that she mustn’t ask the Mozart question. When she nervously blurts this out, Paolo tells her his life story, as an explanation of why he never plays Mozart.
It is a tale that runs from his childhood in Venice, through his early infatuation with the violin to the terrible secret his mother and father kept from him. Although the story has love of music at its heart, it also tells of some of the suffering involved in the Nazi death camps and the agonising role played by Mozart’s music. The truth, when revealed, is moving.
The Mozart Question, which is an illustrated story rather than a novel, has superb water colour illustrations by Michael Foreman, many showing the splendours of Paolo’s Venice. Morpurgo’s words show the splendour of the music.
This review first appeared in The Press, Christchurch New Zealand on 23rd August 2008