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Maria Anna Walpurga Ignatia (Nannerl) Mozart
Born: Salzburg (Austria) 30-31/07/1751   Died: Salzburg (Austria) 29/10/1829
Letters in which this person is cited
148 (15 December 1769) | view
149 (17 December 1769) | view
153 (7 January 1770) | view
155 (11 January 1770) | view
158 (26 January 1770) | view
159 (3 February 1770) | view
160 (10 February 1770) | view
161 (17 February 1770) | view
162 (27 February 1770) | view
164 (3 March 1770) | view
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Mozart`s older sister. On her eighth name day Leopold Mozart gave her a music book he had prepared, the so-called `Nannerl Notenbuch`, which soon began to record how quickly Mozart learnt its pieces. This example of precociousness became a pattern: Mozart overshadowed Nannerl.
Though she was involved in the concert tours of 1762-1769, Nannerl did not publicly demonstrate the same musical abilities as Mozart. She won high praise for taste and execution in keyboard performance, but Mozart also played the violin and organ, and developed compositional arts intensively. Nevertheless, Nannerl was certainly taught some of these skills: surviving exercises and references in the correspondence indicate that she practised varying a melody, composing a bass to a melody, accompanying at sight, and improvising. She also learnt to sing and teach, and Leopold wanted her to be capable of earning a musical living. From 1769 to 1775 Leopold made several journeys with Mozart alone, so Nannerl experienced some neglect. From this period, her lack of autonomy was problematic - wanting opportunities for performance in Salzburg, she was dependent on a man to provide a livelier place of residence.
Until Mozart moved to Vienna, he and Nannerl were very close: his letters from Italy in 1769-1771 encouraged her compositions (which do not survive), and teased her about her `unbearable` voice, her `wonderful horse-face`, and her unsuccessful suitors. The highlights of their public appearances were duet performances, and the concerto for two keyboards K365 was probably written for them. Mozart usually arranged to serenade Nannerl on her name day, and it is likely that the `Nannerl Septet` K251 was written for her in 1776. Nannerl depended on Mozart for keyboard music (though apart from several short, improvisatory, preludes such as the capriccio K395, there is no keyboard music known to have been written explicitly for her), and they shared a passion for the theatre and for making music. Many facets of their Salzburg life, from her piety to the family`s tireless socializing, are illustrated by her diary.
Nannerl`s hopes that Mozart would enable her to leave Salzburg dwindled after his move to Vienna without a salary in 1781, and his marriage in 1782. From this date she appears to have shared with Leopold a degree of disenchantment with Mozart. Disappointed in her apparent wish to marry Franz Armand d`Ippold, on 23 August 1784 she married the twice-widowed Johann Baptist Berchtold von Sonnenburg, and moved to St Gilgen to direct his household of five children. She and Berchtold had three further children: Leopold Alois Pantaleon (b. 27 July 1785; d. 15 May 1840); Johanna (`Jeanette`, b. 22/23 March 1789; d. 1 September 1805); and Maria Babette (b. 27 November 1790; d. 24 April 1791). Because of difficulties in her situation, Leopold kept her baby `Leopoldl` (`little Leopold`) with him in Salzburg until Leopold`s death in 1787. Leopold`s letters to Nannerl for the period between her marriage and his death not only illuminate the situation of her marriage and his Salzburg service, but also provide news about Mozart. Despite difficulties in keeping her fortepiano working in St Gilgen, Nannerl regularly demanded new pieces, and Leopold sent her Mozart`s latest keyboard music. It is because of Nannerl`s requests for music that Mozart`s own cadenzas survive for several of the keyboard concertos - Mozart sent these to her, and she kept them. These and the preludes mentioned above (together with the letters about them) are valuable for what they show about Nannerl`s skills, Mozart`s ideas on improvisation, and performance practice.
Nannerl had become involved with Mozart biography soon after Wolfgang`s death in 1791. In 1792 she wrote an essay for Schlichtegroll`s Nekrolog; unknown to her, this essay acquired a postscript critical of Mozart and Constanze Mozart, written by Albert von Mölk. In 1799 she supplied Breitkopf & Härtel with anecdotes about Mozart, and in the 1820s she co-operated with Constanze Mozart`s second husband Georg Nikolaus Nissen by giving him letters for use in his Mozart biography. She and Constanze played a great role in handing down biographical and musical source material.
R. Halliwell, The Mozart Family: Four Lives in a Social Context (Oxford, 1998) W. Plath, `Leopold Mozart und Nannerl: Lehrer und Schülerin`, in Plath, Mozart-Schriften: Ausgewählte Aufsätze, ed. M. Danckwardt (Kassel, 1991), 375-378 E. Rieger, Nannerl Mozart: Leben einer Künstlerin im 18. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt am Main, 2/1991)
Please use the following reference when citing this website:
Eisen, Cliff et al. In Mozart's Words, 'Maria Anna Walpurga Ignatia (Nannerl) Mozart' <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.