Mourning the lost music of Mozart

Watching “Mozart’s Sister” reminded me of where we once were. The movie which is a fictionalized account of Maria Anna Mozart considers what wonderful music has been lost forever because although she originally received top billing when she and her better known brother Wolfgang toured many cities with the ultimate stage parent, their father Leopold, Maria Anna Mozart was first a woman. “Mozart’s Sister” is also a star vehicle for director René Féret’s daughters and a good choice for Women’s History month.

When she reached a marriageable age, she stayed home with her mother in Salzburg and married a much older man after her father forced her to turn down the man she truly loved. Her brother, the rebel, tried to get her to stand up to her father, but Maria Anna was the obedient child and perhaps she then made an obedient wife.

The man she married was a twice-widowed magistrate who already had five children from his previous marriages. Together, they had three children. She outlived her husband by 28 years, dying at age 78 in 1829.  Her brother had died in 1791 a decade earlier.

Although we know she composed pieces from letters she sent to her brother, none survived.

The 2010 French language movie “Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart,” known in English as “Mozart’s Sister,”  is a beautiful costume drama that considers Maria Anna, known by her nickname Nannerl (Marie Féret), having a slight taste of rebellion as a teen. At 14, she’s already being pushed to the sidelines as their father sets his hopes on the 11-year-old Wolfgang (David Moreau). A chance meeting with the 13-year-old Princess Louise Marie of France (Lisa Féret) leads to an acquaintance with her brother, the recently widowed French Dauphin (Clovis Fouin). The Dauphin seems interested in Nannerl with only the slightest possibility of romance. She begins to challenge her role as supportive sister and obedient daughter but this glimmer of bad girlness is extinguished when she loses the support of the Dauphin after his engagement to someone from the aristocracy. She and Louise consider what could have been if they had been men.

You have to wonder how much our culture has lost because of prejudice toward women. Over 300 years later, some things have changed and some things still need changing. Girls and women, this movie should make you want to shout and not let anyone dim the light of your talents. Don’t let your music be lost. “Mozart’s Sister” is available on Netflix. In French with English subtitles.

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