In Mozart’s Shadow
You’ll see them in early depictions of “The Mozart Family.” There they are, sister and brother, hands crossed as they perform some difficult piece on the harpsichord, accompanied by proud Papa Leopold with his violin. Yes, Wolfgang Mozart had a musically talented older sister! We don’t know if she would have composed in the same grand manner, but we can certainly wonder. Nannerl, as she was called at home, is a perfect case of what happens when women are not allowed the same opportunities as men. In the late 18th century, a musician’s career was, in a limited sense, possible for a woman, but it was not probable without a male relative willing to act as sponsor. In a letter, Wolfgang wrote, “After God, comes Papa,” and here, truly, was the insurmountable obstacle. In Mozart’s Shadow is the story of dashed hopes and talents wasted, of the endless sacrifices required by an implacably controlling father. Having lost his hold on Wolfgang, Leopold never lets go of Nannerl. This is a sad story, but it is one today’s children, receiving conflicting messages about women’s rights, can learn from.