On Air Now
The Classic FM Concert with John Suchet 8pm - 10pm
Meet the Mozart family - the people that were closest to Wolfgang himself throughout his life.
In 1756 Leopold Mozart was 37, his wife one year younger and they had daughter who was not yet five. The daughter was called Maria Anna, after her mother, but the family referred to her by her nickname, Nannerl. By the time Mozart was born, his mother Maria Anna had given birth to seven children, but only Nannerl and Mozart had survived. This was such a common scenario that families would often give each child the same family name. So, for example, a mother might give birth to six sons and call them all Johannes, fully expecting that, at best, only one with the name would survive.
Leopold was quite a respected local musician in Salzburg. He had studied law and philosophy at university, which, although it sounds surprising today, was actually quite a common route for musicians. The composer Georg Philipp Telemann did the same. At the age of 20, Leopold had become a musician at Salzburg Cathedral, going on to teach violin at the adjoining choir school. In the course of a modest career, he would become a court musician by the time Mozart was 7 years old.
Mozart's mother, Maria Anna, was 36. As was the way at the time, she was very much secondary to her husband in all things to do with the family. She was not as well-educated — some say she was barely literate — but rather saw it as her duty in life to see to Leopold's every need. She rarely made decisions about family matters.
Nannerl was the fourth of the seven children, but the first to survive beyond infancy. Mozart himself was number seven. By the time Mozart was born, Nannerl was already showing signs of being a musical prodigy Such was the role of women at that time, though, that despite her obvious gifts, Leopold would devote much more energy into nurturing his son's talents than those of his daughter.