Maria Anna Mozart

“Virtuosic.” “A prodigy.” “Genius.” These words were written in the 1760s about Mozart—Maria Anna Mozart. When she toured Europe as a pianist, young Maria Anna wowed audiences in Munich, Vienna, Paris, London, the Hague, Germany and Switzerland. “My little girl plays the most difficult works which we have … with incredible precision and so excellently,” her father, Leopold, wrote in a letter in 1764. “What it all amounts to is this, that my little girl, although she is only 12 years old, is one of the most skillful players in Europe.”

Rusch, Elizabeth. “Maria Anna Mozart: The Family’s First Prodigy.” Smithsonian, 27 Mar. 2011.

Portrait of Maria Anna Mozart. Oil. 1760’s.
By Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The 2010 movie Mozart’s Sister imagines how the early life of Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart might have been.

Mozart’s Sister (2010) – IMDb

Mozart’s Sister: Directed by René Féret. With Marie Féret, Marc Barbé, Delphine Chuillot, David Moreau. A reimagined account of the early life of Maria Anna ‘Nannerl’ Mozart, five years older than Wolfgang, and a musical prodigy in her own right.

Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart (30 July 1751 – 29 October 1829), called “Marianne” and nicknamed Nannerl, was a musician, the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) and daughter of Leopold (1719–1787) and Anna Maria Mozart (1720–1778).

Maria Anna (Marianne) Mozart was born in Salzburg. When she was seven years old, her father Leopold Mozart started teaching her to play the harpsichord. Leopold took her and Wolfgang on tours of many cities, such as Vienna and Paris, to showcase their talents. In the early days, she sometimes received top billing, and she was noted as an excellent harpsichord player and fortepianist.

However, given the views of her parents, prevalent in her society at the time, it became impossible as she grew older for her to continue her career any further. According to New Grove, “from 1769 onwards she was no longer permitted to show her artistic talent on travels with her brother, as she had reached a marriageable age.”[1] Wolfgang went on during the 1770s to many artistic triumphs while traveling in Italy with Leopold, but Marianne stayed at home in Salzburg with her mother. She likewise stayed home with Leopold when Wolfgang visited Paris and other cities (1777–1779) accompanied by his mother.

There is evidence that Marianne wrote musical compositions, as there are letters from Wolfgang praising her work, but the voluminous correspondence of her father never mentions any of her compositions, and none have survived.[1]

“Maria Anna Mozart.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Anna_Mozart. Accessed 18 Sept. 2021.

Maria Anna Mozart

Listen to this episode from Stuff You Missed in History Class on Spotify. Maria Anna Mozart is often left out of brief accounts of her brother’s life. But his sister was sharing the bench with him and was also considered an impressive and accomplished musician.

Maria Anna Mozart
on Stuff You Missed in History Class

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