Books: Waiting for Amadeus

MOZART by Wolfgang Hildesheimer, translated by Marion Faber Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 408 pages; $22.50

Author Hildesheimer wastes no time telling us that he is the sort of fellow more interested in the hole than the doughnut. "Our task," he states, "is to blot out existing ideas, but not to mediate between Mozart and the reader. On the contrary, the intention of this study is to make the distance between both sides even greater . . . between Mozart's inner life and our inadequate conception of its nature and dimension."

What follows is not mostly Mozart but mostly Hildesheimer. His book is an...

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