Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Matt Rees

Matt Rees is an award-winning crime novelist and foreign correspondent. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed Omar Yussef crime series, including The Collaborator of Bethlehem. He is also the author of Cain’s Field, a nonfiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society. Rees lives in Jerusalem.

From Rees's Q &A with Jessica Duchen about his new novel, Mozart's Last Aria:

JD: Matt, what made you want to write a detective story about Mozart's death? Especially after 'Amadeus' has had the market cornered for so many years?

MR: Peter Schaffer’s great play was written in the late Seventies. Milos Forman filmed it in the early Eighties. Which is getting to be rather a long time ago (though as I prepare to turn 44, I’d rather not admit that…) In turn, Schaffer’s play was a reworking of an old piece by Pushkin, which Mussorgsky later used as the basis for an opera. Yet there’s a great deal of new historical research on Mozart which gives tantalizing hints about his possible death and the reasons behind it – including the secret police infiltration of the Masons, of which Wolfgang was a leading member, and even his involvement in espionage. The Pushkin-Schaffer idea is based on a single confession of murder Salieri made – and later recanted – in a madhouse. I wanted to use this new historical research to come up with a new story about Mozart’s death. I certainly think readers have a deep fascination with Mozart which will make them open to a reexamination of the story of his demise. Most of all, I wanted to put his relationship with his sister Nannerl – the narrator of my novel – at the heart of the story. It was she who gave me the idea for the book, when I visited St. Gilgen, her little village in the Salzkammergut, the mountains near Salzburg. I saw an image of her in which she looked exactly like her brother. Naturally, that got my crime fiction juices bubbling…

JD: Do you think this really is what happened to Mozart?

MR: I...[read on]
Learn more about about the book and author at Matt Beynon Rees' website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Mozart's Last Aria.

The Page 69 Test: Mozart's Last Aria.

--Marshal Zeringue