The Mr Mozart of Bernard Bastable’s Dead, Mr Mozart was a German child prodigy who stayed on in England after his visit of 1764, cursing the luck that made him a despised hack in a foreign country, instead of being cherished and honoured in his native Austria. Then he found himself involved, willy-nilly, in the sordid business of George IV’s divorce from Queen Caroline.
Now, in 1830, with Wolfgang Gottlieb (he prefers the German form of his name) Mozart still remarkably spry for his age, it seems things are looking up: he is asked to give piano lessons to the young Princess Victoria.
He is less sure of his good fortune, however, when the princess, during her first lesson, makes a most unusual demand of him. And things go from bad to dangerous when she becomes Heir Apparent to the throne, and seems destined to be the victim of a tug-of-love between the new King, William IV, and her unwise mother, the Duchess of Kent.
When the King’s brood of illegitimate children, the FitzClarences, join in the situation rapidly gets alarming overtones, and when one of the guests at a Windsor Castle reception finds that drinking out of other people’s glasses can have fatal consequences, Mr Mozart has to face up to the fact that someone may have designs on his rather delightful new pupil.