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Maria Anna, the Woman Who Could Have Ended Mozart’s Career

Maria Anna Mozart expands on aspects of her brother’s life and opens the door to historical revisionism.

Subject to the context, circumstances, and collective culture of the time, history can mean one thing to some and something completely different to others. In the process, figures are exalted while others, just as prominent and talented, are left behind. Can an outstanding person fade from the general panorama until they practically inhabit the shadow of others? The answer is yes. Such is the case of Maria Anna Mozart, who like her brother, Wolfgang Amadeus, was a musical prodigy, only the scales of time and recognition did not tip in her direction.

Maria Anna Mozart expands aspects of the life of one of the most recognized musical genius who ever lived and opens a door for historical revisionism, as well as one more argument to make it clear that it is not speculative to talk about marginalization and oppression and how it has affected the course of humanity. Everyone remembers Wolfgang, but the role of Maria Anna, commonly nicknamed Nannerl, is rarely mentioned. In fact, at the height of their genius, the sibling prodigy duo traveled throughout Europe demonstrating their talent during Wolfgang’s 18-month stay in London. At that time, Maria Anna was as much admired as her little brother. Her admirers were truly fascinated by the 11-year-old girl who could interpret the most demanding sonatas of the most renowned composers with utmost grace, delicacy, and taste.

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With the advent of her coming of age, the outlook did not look too bright for the extremely talented musician. At 18, she was no longer a novelty curiosity and, as a full-fledged woman and not a gifted girl, her appeal was slowly on the wane. However, according to researchers and critics, her role is far more important than a mere flash of genius. Her influence on her brother Wolfgang, five years her junior, is an essential aspect of the career of the composer who would go down in history as a pillar of classical music.

We all know the admirable career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who from an early age stood out as a child prodigy who revolutionized classical music with his varied and beautiful symphonies. What is not known is the hidden side of his family, for he had not one little genius, but two.

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Maria Anna Mozart, the older sister of the prodigious composer, began studying piano with her father, composer Leopold Mozart, at the age of eight, while little Wolfgang, then three years old, watched them with great admiration.

Leopold was deeply amazed by his daughter’s talent, which can be seen in a letter he wrote in 1764: “My child plays the most difficult scores we have...with incredible precision and in an excellent manner.” “My little girl, at the age of only 12, is one of the most skilled musicians in Europe.” Even Wolfgang himself, in his years of greatest recognition, came to accept the fear of not becoming as good a composer as his sister, who went on to receive rave reviews across the European continent.

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Maria Anna fought all her life to make her own space and earn the right to be remembered in the annals of musical history as an out-of-orbit representative, but society and patriarchy failed her deeply.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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