Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed Nannerl, was the elder and only sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She was born on 30 July 1751 in Salzburg, Austria. Like her younger brother, Nannerl was a child prodigy.
For more than three years she toured with her little brother to many European cities, from London and Paris to Munich and Vienna, and was widely acknowledged as one of the finest pianists of her generation, often receiving the top billing for her performances.
Her father, Leopold Mozart, who was a court musician started teaching her to play the harpsichord when she was seven years old. Just like her brother, Nannerl was able to play the most challenging pieces and could compose into notes any song she heard.
According to the Smithsonian, Leopold wrote in a letter in 1764: “My little girl plays the most difficult works which we have… with incredible precision and so excellently. What it all amounts to is this, that my little girl, although she is only 12 years old, is one of the most skillful players in Europe.”
Maria Anna Mozart’s touring days ended at the age of eighteen. According to New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians “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.”
She was left behind in Salzburg with her mother and she never toured again.
Sylvia Milo who wrote the play “The Other Mozart” told the Huffington Post that there were some reviews that came out about her playing and one said, “Imagine an eleven-year-old girl, performing the most difficult sonatas and concertos of the greatest composers, on the harpsichord or fortepiano, with precision, with incredible lightness, with impeccable taste. It was a source of wonder to many.”
“Also, after she was left behind [while Wolfgang and Leopold toured] she wrote a composition and sent it to them on the road. We don’t have the composition, but we have Wolfgang’s reaction to it. He said, as he says in the play, I cannot believe that you compose so well, it is beautiful.”
She fell in love with Franz d’Ippold but was forced by her father to turn down his marriage proposal. Eventually, she married Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg, who was twice widowed and already had five children. They had three children.
Her husband died in 1801 and she returned to Salzburg where she worked as a music teacher. Her health declined, and she became blind in 1825. Four years later on 29 October 1829, Maria Anna Mozart died at the age of 78. She was buried in St Peter’s Cemetery, Salzburg.