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Rediscovering Mozart in 2006

January 01, 2006|Chris Pasles

A lot of people got a distorted view of Mozart from Peter Shaffer's play "Amadeus" and Milos Forman's popular screen adaptation. Now comes the truth, or at least as close to it as we can probably hope to get.

Making its debut at the start of this year's 250th anniversary of the composer's birth is "In Search of Mozart," a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Phil Grabsky ("Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World") that will premiere Wednesday at the Barbican in London.

Shot in 10 European countries, the film takes a 25,000-mile journey through Mozart's life and works using the letters of the composer, his family and friends. Narrated by actress Juliet Stevenson, it also features 70 contemporary performing artists, among them soprano Renee Fleming and conductors Roger Norrington and Charles Mackerras.

The film is headed to Indianapolis, Miami and Oregon this month but not yet to Los Angeles. However, it can be purchased as a DVD for $36 at

Also in Britain, BBC Radio 3 has decided not to broadcast the entire works of Mozart as part of the commemorations of his birth, as the station recently did for Beethoven, Webern and Bach. "Our view is that with Mozart end to end, the overall effect would be detrimental to the music," Roger Wright, the station's controller, told the London Telegraph last week. "The music could wrongly be seen as slightly more chocolate-boxy than it really is."

The newspaper estimated that had Radio 3 decided to play Mozart's output, the project would have taken as long as 14 days.

-- Chris Pasles

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