Erik Levi‘s new book, Mozart and the Nazis: How the Third Reich Abused A Cultural Icon, proves that just because a subject is interesting, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s entertaining. While chockablock with information and insightful analysis, Levi does not write in a style one could call compelling.
Levi does an admirable job of presenting background information when required, but while that information helps with understanding what’s being presented, it has the unfortunate side effect of slowing down any forward momentum that might be generated. Reading Mozart and the Nazis is just a slow, aching read.
The tale of how Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, an Austrian composer who wrote operas in Italian and used a Jewish writer to compose his librettos, was made into a paragon of German nationalism is extraordinarily complex. Unfortunately, that complexity is that which makes for a difficult read. Encompassing as it does everything from competing translations of Mozart’s works and which more accurately conveys the “Germanness” of his words to using Die Zauberflöte to boost troops’ morale, Mozart and the Nazis covers multiple disciplines.
In other words, in order to fully appreciate and understand every facet of Levi’s words, the reader needs to be versed in classical appreciation, German history, various lingual subtleties, and more. The average reader will find themselves ill-equipped to understand the entirety of the book. While endlessly fascinating, especially in its depiction of the Nazis’ constantly shifting apologies and explanations for the composer’s associations with Jews and Freemasons, Mozart and the Nazis is not for the novice on the subject.