Saturday, July 30, 2011

Heroine of the Weekend

We haven't had a Heroine in a couple of weeks! So let's take a look at Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart, born on July 30, 1751....

Nannerl, the older sister of Wolfgang, was born in Salzburg, and started learning the harpsichord from her father Leopold when she was about 7, along with her brother. The two of them became a sensation on the European musical tour circuit, visiting cities and royal courts. At first Nannerl was the number one star attraction, but as she got older that changed--"from 1768 onwards she was no longer permitted to show her artistic talent on travels with her brother, as she had reached marriageable age." She still played music in private and for friends, and her brother later wrote a few pieces for her. There is some evidence from his letters that she also composed, but none of her works survive. While he went on more tours she stayed home with her parents.

After her father refused to let her marry her first choice (it seems she was not rebellious at all, unlike her brother!) she married an older, well-to-do magistrate named Johann Sonnenburg, who was already twice widowed and had 5 children. She had three of her own, two daughters (one of whom died in infancy) and a son, who was raised by her father for his first two years. When her husband died in 1801 she returned to Salzburg with her children and taught music. She seems to have lived quietly for the rest of her life, though she did connect with her brother's widow and son later on.

Some sources on her life:
A novel by Alison Bauld, Mozart's Sister (2005)
Maynard Solomon, Mozart: A Life (1995)
Jane Glover, Mozart's Women (2005)

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