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Maria Anna Mozart
née Pertl
Born: St. Gilgen (Austria) 25/12/1720   Died: St. Gilgen (Austria) 03/07/1778
Letters in which this person is cited
147 (14 December 1769) | view
148 (15 December 1769) | view
149 (17 December 1769) | view
150 (22 December 1769) | view
152 (7 January 1770) | view
153 (7 January 1770) | view
155 (11 January 1770) | view
157 (26 January 1770) | view
159 (3 February 1770) | view
160 (10 February 1770) | view
Showing the first 10 letters. Show all
Mozart`s mother. Her father (Wolfgang Nikolaus Pertl, Pfleger or administrator of St Gilgen) died when she was three, and her childhood was penurious. On 21 November 1747 she married Leopold Mozart, and they lived in Salzburg`s Getreidegasse as tenants of the Hagenauer family. Of their seven children, five died in infancy.
Information about Maria Anna is limited to snippets of news in Leopold`s letters to the Hagenauers when the family was away (Maria Anna did not write herself); Leopold`s and Mozart`s letters to her when they were travelling on their own (her replies have been lost); and her letters to Leopold from September 1777 to June 1778 (when she and Mozart were travelling to Paris on Mozart`s quest for an appointment), together with Leopold`s answers. Her writing style and orthography show that she was not as well educated as her daughter Nannerl Mozart, but she was a capable housekeeper, a role then encompassing highly-developed skills like needlecraft, food preservation, and the preparation of medicaments.
The correspondence of 1777-1778 illuminates the stresses of the last year of Maria Anna`s life. The journey was physically challenging; Mozart sometimes made her feel an encumbrance; and money was short, causing her difficulties in accounting to Leopold for their expenditure. Her lonely death (for which Leopold blamed Mozart) after a short febrile illness appears to cap the pathos of this period, causing biographers to depict her with sympathetic piety, but in a somewhat restricted way, as a woman possessing far-reaching devotion to her family, robust humour, and a love of friendship and gossip.
It may be possible to deepen the understanding of Maria Anna by studying her life in particular local contexts. For example, the documentation exposes riddles, one concerning her relationship with Leopold. Many passages in the letters reveal Leopold`s love and respect for her, but he could also be impatient, sarcastic, and insistently determined to be right. Yet Maria Anna, despite her economic dependence and educational inferiority, evidently had little fear of him, confidently showing comfort and tenderness. A contextual study of male/female relationships in Salzburg might illuminate the social mechanics that apparently made it possible for couples to feel affectionately at ease in spite of such profound inequalities.
Other intriguing questions concern religion: her trust in prayer to improve the family`s position sometimes replaced action to bring about the desired result. Mozart too betrayed this kind of passivity during the journey of 1777-1778, while Leopold had a more complex vision of how man`s choices and deeds would interact with God`s will. To what extent was such passivity a characteristic of women and the inexperienced young, unused to taking responsibility for their actions? Again, a contextual study of religious thinking in Salzburg—the minutiae showing how a religion was actually lived both by women and by men—might shed light on this question.
R. Halliwell, The Mozart Family: Four Lives in a Social Context (Oxford, 1998) E. Valentin, `Madame Mutter`: Anna Maria Walburga Mozart (1720-1778) (Augsburg, 1991)
Please use the following reference when citing this website:
Eisen, Cliff et al. In Mozart's Words <http://letters.mozartways.com>. Version 1.0, published by HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.
In Mozart's Words. Version 1.0, published by HRI Online, 2011. ISBN 9780955787676.