Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Victim of Mysogeny: "The Other Mozart"

Maria Anna Mozart

When she was seven years old, her father started teaching her to play the clavier, and initially she seemed a potential child prodigy. Leopold took her and her brother on tours of many cities, such as Vienna and Paris, to exploit their talents. In the early days she sometimes received top billing and she was noted as an excellent harpsichord player and pianist. But 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. (wikipedia)

Anna Maria Mozart was a gifted musician eventually shadowed by her brother, Wolfgang Amadeus. In his youth, he adored his older sister, but their father Leopold encouraged young Wolfgang only. Even for the times, however, Anna seemed unduly complacent: giving up the man she loved to a marriage of her father's choosing. She even allowed her father to rear her only son in deference to him. While Wolfgang constantly quarreled with his father, Anna acquiesced.

She married only once: to a wealthy magistrate named Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg. He was a widower with five children and Anna Maria bore him three more.

After the death of her husband she became (what else?) a music teacher. From all accounts she became blind and poor of health. She died on October 29, 1829. She was (for the time) the advanced age of 78.

Question: if her father and society had not forced this timid little girl to stay home until she was married to the right man, how far could she have gone in the music world? Mozart wrote some piano compositions for her. References in his letters to her show us that she composed music as well. None of her compositions, however, have survived.

How dim of a life she led compared to what she could have been we will never know.

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