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"Make him young! Make him sexy!" 40 years later, Mozart returns

One of the last album covers Richard Amsel illustrated was for “The Mozart Collection,” an expansive release by Time Life Music. Various incarnations were produced, both on CD and cassette, as early as 1985, while the complete, comprehensive CD set – entailing a whopping 50 CDs! – was produced from 1987 to 1990.


I remember seeing Amsel’s artwork on prominent display in music stores back when I was a child in 1985. Mozart’s popularity was no doubt rekindled by the enormous success and acclaim of the film AMADEUS at that time.


I don’t know where the original art is now, but Amsel fan Brian Miller has donated the next best thing to the project: a full-sized printer’s proof:

Miller explains: “Time Life would have done four-color offset printing for such an artwork. I suspect that it is a photographic reproduction of the full-size artwork and not reproduced by lithography.”


Miller worked as a copy editor and production person for Time Life Music from 1983 to 1993. There he shared an office with art director Don Sheldon, who commissioned the Mozart artwork from Amsel.


“Don could be fairly described as acquisitive, aggressive, unpredictable and sometimes erratic,” Miller wrote. “He was legendary at Time Life for having thrown a chair out his office window one day because he was too hot. (This is in a 5-story modern office building in Alexandria, Virginia, with big windows that do not open.) When he talked on the phone, he always used his ‘If this is long distance, I’ll speak louder’ voice, and I can still hear him shouting presumably to Richard Amsel, ‘Make him young! Make him sexy!’ And so Richard did indeed produce a Mozart that anyone in the ‘80s could relate to. It was the single image used for the multi-volume Mozart Collection.”


Seeing the print in person, the detail is incredible. The artwork measures approximately 13” x 19”.


I can’t thank Brian Miller enough for providing more information on this piece, as well as his generous donation of the print. (As a reminder, our project has 501©(3) fiscal sponsorship for non-profit status, so both monetary and non-cash donations of tangible property qualify for tax deductible contributions, and I report them each year to the IRS.)  


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