Mozart’s Sister

Published June 16, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of Mozart’s Sister by Nancy Moser

Overview from The year is 1763. Eleven-year-old Nannerl Mozart is performing before the crowned heads of Europe with her younger brother, Wolfgang.

But behind the glamour lurked dark difficulties-the hardship of travel, agonizing bouts of illness, and the constant concern over money. Their father, Leopold, is driven by a desire to bring his son’s genius to the attention of the world. But what about Nannerl? Was she not just as talented? In a time where women’s choices are limited, what hope did she have of ever realizing her own dreams?

My Review:

This was another one of my great accidental finds. Like last week’s review, I found this book on that very same trip to the library and thought it might be interesting. It was interesting—and so much more.

I had never before heard of Nannerl Mozart nor had I known that while W.A. Mozart was being carted around Europe by his father, much of the time, his sister was with him, at least in his younger years. I also hadn’t known that his sister was just as talented as he was yet was denied the opportunity to use her musical gifts in the way that her brother did.

From the beginning I was hooked. When the “prelude” introduces us to Nannerl, I wondered already about her and when she and her brother had their falling out. (It is clear in this chapter that they are no longer close as they once were.) The following is her exchange with a writer who wants to interview her about her brother:

“’But, Fraulein Mozart…the questions are not difficult.’

They shouldn’t have been.

But they were.” P.13

Nannerl starts off at the top of her game and her life. She and her brother go to places that her fellow Salzburgers only dream of. They play music and perform tricks for kings and queens. And Nannerl loves every minute of it. That is except when her brother starts to get all the attention and she becomes too old to become a wonder kid anymore.

Yet when her brother is too old to become a wonder kid, his musical ambitions are encouraged and practically forced on him. At one point a young Wolfgang even declares that he wants to become a soldier when he grows and is reprimanded by his mother who tells him that he will become a musician. Whether he wants to or not, he has the gift from God and he will not be allowed to squander it.

In many ways, he does just that. Yes, he still goes on to create beautiful music, but he does not go about it in the best ways many times. While his sister follows all the rules and expectations that society sets out for her, “Wolfie” doesn’t. And what galls his sister the most about this in the end is that he seems to still end up being more successful and happy than she does. Not only does she give up her music, but she gives up the man she loves, in part to please her parents. It seems to be the only choice she has.

But just when the story seems like it is all sadness, the ending of the book tells us otherwise. In spite of Nannerl’s struggles, the author manages to show us the difference that she made in the lives of others, specifically children. Her life illustrates that old quote about one’s life making a difference because one made a difference in the life of child. So though she might have made a bigger impact on the world at large if she were a man, the impact that she did make is still important.

I was really thankful for this as I was for the author’s decision to end Nannerl’s story on a positive note. I hope that Nannerl herself felt the same. Kudos to Ms. Moser on her positive portrayal and wonderful book. I loved it.

Contains: I could find nothing objectionable here.


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