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Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser
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Mar 09, 2011

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Read in February, 2011

Thank goodness I stuck with this book to see it through to the end.
This book by Nancy Moser is, obviously, about Mozart’s Sister Anna Maria, who usually went by Nannerl. It is clearly a fictionalized account, but is thoroughly researched so it makes for a lazy way to learn some interesting history.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, known to his older sister as Wolfie, begins to display his musical genius as a young boy. For an older sister who is nearly as gifted at playing the piano, this makes for a strained relationship. Their father is determined to show the world their musical gifts are from God and continually pushes them to perform before audiences. When they were just 12 and 7, they set out on a Grand Tour of Europe, playing before royalty in many countries.

As such, the first part of the book read like a travelogue of 18th Century Europe. The first person narration hardly sounds like a young girl, except for repeated complaints that her little brother receives more attention and Nannerl’s predictable remarks that it wasn’t fair she couldn’t be a composer just because she was female.

Even so, the story was interesting enough to keep me reading.

The second half became much more interesting. Nannerl and Mozart were separated when he went to Vienna and she had to cope with her father’s efforts to control his son from afar. She also came to realize that her most marriageable years had passed while she was occupied with music. It is a far more interesting tale to see her balance her gifts in music with just-as-strong desires to be a wife and mother. Nannerl’s situation is made more complicated by her brother’s notoriety which was not well received in their hometown of Salzburg and the archbishop’s desire to retaliate for perceived slights from the Mozarts men.
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