Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart (1751-1829)
Her family called her "Nannerl." She was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's sister. Whether her birthday is the 30th or 31st of July, 1751, I'm talking about Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart, the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Nannerl and Wolfgang were the only two of their parents' seven children to survive. Their father, Leopold Mozart, encouraged his children's musical talent.
From letters of Wolfgang Mozart to his sister, it's apparent that like her younger sibling, she also wrote music. Wolfgang praised her compositions as shown in his letters to her. Unfortunately, none of her work survives. Nannerl was an underdeveloped composer, whose talents might have shone if not for the social climate of the time.
The Mozart Children: Wolfgang and Nannerl
When they were young, Wolfgang and Nannerl were very close — they made up a secret language and invented a kingdom all their own where they were king and queen. But as Nannerl grew older, she was expected to end her musical career and get married as dictated during those times. Their father poured all his energies building up the musical career for his son, who at the young age of three already showed enormous talent and genius.
Nannerl was born at midnight in Salzburg, four years and six months older than Wolfgang. She was christened Maria Anna Walburga Ignacia Mozart. Compared to her brother, not much is known of her musical career or her life.
Marriage of Maria Anna Mozart
In contrast to her brother Wolfgang, Nannerl remained entirely subordinate to her father. She fell in love with Franz d'Ippold, a captain and private tutor, but she was forced by her father to turn down his marriage proposal. Eventually, she married a magistrate, Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg in August 23, 1783, and settled with him in St. Gilgen, a village in Austria about 29 km east of the Mozart family home in Salzburg. Berchtold was twice a widower, and had five children from his two previous marriages, whom she helped raise. She also had three children of her own: Leopold Alois Pantaleon (1785–1840), Jeanette (1789–1805) and Maria Babette (1790–1791). All her step-children remained in contact with her throughout her life.
Later Years of Nannerl
Nannerl returned to Salzburg when her husband died in 1801. Accompanied by her two living children and four stepchildren, she worked as a music teacher. She had her first encounter in person with her sister-in-law Constanze since the visit of 1783. In 1820, Constanze and her second husband Danish Count Georg von Nissen moved to Salzburg. The encounter was "cordial." Eventually, she helped Constanze and Nissen write a biography of Wolfgang, in which she lent the Nissens her collection of family letters, including Wolfgang and Leopold's correspondence up to 1781, the year Mozart left Salzburg to live in Vienna.
In 1821, Marianne enjoyed a visit from Wolfgang's youngest son, Franz Xaver Mozart, whom she had never met during her brother's lifetime. Franz Xaver, by then a musician who followed after his father, had come from his home in Lemberg to conduct a performance of his father's Requiem in remembrance of Nissen who recently passed on.
Nannerl's health declined and became blind in 1825. Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart died on 29 October 1829, at the age of 78 years. She was buried in St. Peter's Cemetery, Salzburg.
Mozart's Sister by Rene Feret
- Bauld, A.M. Mozart's Sister. (A Historical Novel). Victoria, Australia: Port Cambell Press, 2006.
- Eisen, Cliff and Sadie, Stanley. Mozart (The New Grove). London: MacMillan Publishers. 2002.
- Glover, Jane. Mozart's Women. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2005.
- Solomon, Maynard. Mozart: A Life. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.
Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni.
Note: I originally published this July 30, 2008 / Tel.
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