The Mozart Question ~ Michael Morpurgo

“Like any young boy, Paolo becomes obsessed with what he can’t have — in his case, a violin. Hidden away in his parents’ room, it beckons the boy to release the music inside it. The music leads Paolo to a family secret, a story of World War II that changed the course of his parents’ lives. But once the truth is told, the family is reunited in a way no one had thought possible.”

Though this book is geared towards younger readers, it would be a shame to pass it up based on that. The Mozart Question is a wonderful, affecting story of musicians who survived the Nazi concentration camps, and how the music they played there changed the rest of their lives. But instead of trying to form a semblance of a review on this one, I’d rather include a snippet from the Author’s Note regarding this time in history, and what prompted to tell this story:

“For me, the most haunting image does not come from literature or film but from music…I wondered how it must have been for a musician who played in such hellish circumstances who adored Mozart as I do – what thoughts came when playing Mozart later in life. This was the genesis of my story – this and the sight of a small boy in a square by the Accademia Bridge in Venice, sitting one night in his pajamas on his tricycle, listening to a street musician.”

The book is beautifully illustrated by Michael Foreman; the scenes of Venice, splayed over two pages, are stunning. If for the art alone, I would have enjoyed The Mozart Question; luckily, the story is just as moving.

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