Who’s Nannerl?

When the word composer comes to mind, many people often jump to thinking about men such as Mozart, Handel, or Bach. It is rare that a woman’s name comes to mind even among classical musicians. The unfortunate truth is that up until somewhat recently, there were very limited opportunities for women in the arts especially in music and more specifically composition.

One particular instance to examine would be that of Wolfgang Mozart’s older sister, Maria Anna or Nannerl as she was often called. At seven years old she was taught by her father to play the harpsichord. Shortly after, both Wolgang and Nannerl toured throughout Europe with their father. From 1769 onwards however, Nannerl was no longer permitted to show her artistic talents while traveling with her brother. She was no longer able to be a cute little girl on stage; she had reached an appropriate marriageable age.

Nannerl at Phila Music Fest

There is evidence that Nannerl wrote musical compositions, letters from Wolfgang praising her work have survived throughout history, but in the extensive correspondence from her father, the compositions are never mentioned, and sadly none of her work has surfaced. She passed away at the age of 78, while her high stressed child prodigy brother passed away at the young age of 35.

Times have now changed; women are encouraged to join the arts community. With March being Women’s History Month, we want to encourage young men and women alike across the globe to join us this summer at the Philadelphia International Music Festival. We offer the opportunity of spending 14 days immersed in classical music education and performance with members of the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra. Please visit www.pimf.org for more details.

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