Mozart, Maria Anna (1751–1829)

views updated

Mozart, Maria Anna (1751–1829)

Gifted Austrian musician and sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Name variations: Marianne Mozart; also known as Nännerl or Nannerl. Born on July 30 or 31, 1751, in Salzburg, Austria; died on October 29, 1829, in Salzburg; daughter of Leopold Mozart (a violinist, composer, and theorist) and Anna Maria Mozart; married Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg, in 1784; children: at least one son.

Born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1751, Maria Anna Mozart, called Nannerl, was five years older than her famous brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She too was considered a musical prodigy; in fact, during the early tours that the sister-brother act was taken on by their father Leopold Mozart, she received top billing. That changed as the children grew older and Wolfgang began writing and performing his own compositions.

In 1762, Nannerl and her brother toured, performing for the elector of Bavaria in Munich and for Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna. The following year, they gave concerts in Munich, Augsburg, Mainz, and Frankfurt, then traveled on to Paris and London for extended stays. They then went for six months to the Netherlands, where both became seriously ill. They started home in 1766, but stopped in Paris and also made several appearances in Switzerland and Germany along the way.

Wolfgang Mozart thought highly of his sister's talent; long after he fled their father's control, he wrote to her in 1781 urging her to move to Vienna. Wolfgang felt she would be well rewarded financially by playing at private concerts and giving piano lessons. She did become a piano teacher, but in "dull" Salzburg, as she referred to it. Unlike Wolfgang, Nannerl did not rebel against their father, and in time brother and sister grew further apart, especially after Wolfgang married Constanze Weber (Constanze Mozart ) in 1782. (They would resume communication after their father died, but the letters exchanged dealt almost exclusively with the disposition of his estate.) Leopold turned away several of her suitors before deciding that

magistrate Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg would be suitable. Nannerl married Sonnenburg in 1784, after which they moved to St. Gilgen. She returned to Salzburg for the birth of her first son, and left the baby in Leopold's care.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died at age 35 in 1791. Maria Anna Mozart returned to Salzburg following her husband's death in 1801, and resumed giving piano lessons. She died in Salzburg on October 29, 1829, and was buried in the family plot next to her father.


Schonberg, Harold C. The Great Pianists. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1963.

suggested reading:

Anderson, Emily, ed. The Letters of Mozart and His Family. New York, 1985.

Deutsch, Otto Erich. Mozart: A Documentary Biography. Stanford, 1965.

Landon, H. D. Robbins, ed. The Mozart Companion. New York, 1969.

Solomon, Maynard. Mozart: A Life. New York, 1995.

Jo Anne Meginnes , freelance writer, Brookfield, Vermont