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A portrait of Maria Anna Mozart, ca. 1785

"Marianne Mozart" redirects here. For her cousin of the same name, see Maria Anna Thekla Mozart.

Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart (July 30, 1751 – October 29, 1829), nicknamed "Nannerl", was an Austrianmarker musician. She was the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and daughter of Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart.

In childhood she went by the diminutive form "Nannerl", and later on was called "Marianne".


Maria Anna Mozart was born in Salzburgmarker.

When she was seven years old, her father Leopold Mozart started teaching her to play the harpsichord. Leopold took her and Wolfgang on tours of many cities, such as Viennamarker and Parismarker, to showcase their talents. In the early days she sometimes received top billing and she was noted as an excellent harpsichord player and fortepianist.

However, given the views of her parents, prevalent in her society at the time, it became impossible as she grew older for Marianne to continue her career any further. As the New Grove puts it, "from 1769 onwards she was no longer permitted to show her artistic talent on travels with her brother, as she had reached a marriageable age." Wolfgang went on during the 1770s to many artistic triumphs while traveling in Italy with Leopold, but Marianne had to stay home in Salzburg with her mother. She likewise stayed home with Leopold when Wolfgang visited Paris and other cities (1777-1779) accompanied by his mother.

There is evidence that Marianne wrote musical compositions, as there are letters from Wolfgang praising her work, but the voluminous correspondence of father Leopold never mentions any of her compositions, and none have survived.

Marriage and children

In contrast to her brother, who quarreled with their father and eventually disobeyed his wishes in crucial respects (choice of career path and spouse), Marianne remained entirely subservient to her father's wishes. She fell in love with Armand d'Ippold, who was a captain and private tutor, but was forced by her father to turn down his marriage proposal. (Wolfgang attempted, in vain, to get Marianne to stand up for her own preference.)

Eventually Marianne married a wealthy magistrate, Johann Baptist Franz von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg (23 August, 1783), and settled with him in St. Gilgenmarker, a village in Austria about 25 km. east of the Mozart family home in Salzburgmarker. Sonnenburg was twice a widower and had five children from his two previous marriages, whom Marianne helped raise. She also bore three children of her own: Leopold Alois Pantaleon (1785–1840), Jeanette (1789–1805) and Maria Babette (1790–1791).

Leopold's raising of her son

An unusual episode in Marianne's life occurred when she gave birth (July 27, 1785) to her first child, a son who was named Leopold after his grandfather. Marianne had traveled from her home in St. Gilgen to Salzburg for the birth. When she returned to St. Gilgen, she left her infant in the care of her father and his servants. The elder Leopold stated (by a letter that preceded Marianne back to St. Gilgen) that he would prefer to raise the child for the first few months himself. In 1786 he extended the arrangement to an indefinite term. Leopold continued to care for his grandson, taking delight in his progress (toilet training, speech, and so on), and commencing with the very beginnings of musical training. Marianne saw her son on occasional visits, but in general was not involved in his care. The arrangement continued until the death of Marianne's father, Leopold, on the 28th of May, 1787.

Biographers differ on what was the basis for this arrangement. Little Leopold was ill in his infancy, and perhaps needed to be kept in Salzburg for this reason, but this does not explain why he was still kept there after his recovery. Another possibility attributes the arrangement to Marianne's delicate health or her need to take care of her stepchildren. Biographer Maynard Solomon attributes the arrangement to Leopold's wish to revive his skills in training a musical genius, as he had done with Wolfgang. He also suggests that the giving up her son was indicative of Marianne's total subordination to her father's wishes.

Relationship with Wolfgang

When Mozart was a toddler, Nannerl was his idol. Maynard Solomon writes, "at three, Mozart was inspired to study music by observing his father's instruction of Marianne; he wanted to be like her." The two children were very close, and they invented a secret language and an imaginary "Kingdom of Back" of which they were king and queen. Mozart's early correspondence with Marianne is affectionate, and includes some of the scatological and sexual word play in which Mozart indulged with intimates. Occasionally Wolfgang wrote entries in Marianne's diary, referring to himself in the third person.

Wolfgang wrote a number of works for Marianne to perform, including the Prelude and Fugue in C, K. 394 (1782). Until 1785 he sent her copies of his piano concertos (up to No. 21) in St. Gilgen.

Concerning the relationship between Wolfgang and Marianne in adulthood, authorities differ. The New Grove says that Wolfgang "remained closely attached to her." In contrast, Maynard Solomon contends that in later life Wolfgang and Marianne drifted apart completely. He notes, for instance, that after Mozart's unhappy visit to Salzburg in 1783, Wolfgang and Marianne never visited each other again, that they never saw each other's children, and that their correspondence diminished to a trickle, ceasing entirely in 1788.

Later years

After her husband's death in 1801, Marianne returned to Salzburg accompanied by her two living children and four stepchildren, and worked as a music teacher.

In her old age, Marianne had her first encounter in person with Mozart's widow Constanze since the unhappy visit of 1783. In 1820, Constanze and her second husband Georg Nikolaus von Nissen moved to Salzburg. Although Marianne had not even known that Constanze was still alive, the encounter was apparently "cordial" (Solomon) though not warm. Eventually Marianne did the Nissens a great favor: for purposes of the biography of Mozart they were writing, she let them have her collection of Mozart family letters, including Wolfgang and Leopold's correspondence up to 1781.

In 1821 Marianne enjoyed a visit from Wolfgang's son Franz Xaver Mozart, whom she had never met during her brother's lifetime. The son had come from his home in Lembergmarker to conduct a performance of his father's Requiem in remembrance of the recently-deceased Nissen.

In her last years Marianne's health declined, and she became blind in 1825. Mary Novello, visiting in 1829, recorded her impression that Mrs. Berchtold was "blind, languid, exhausted, feeble and nearly speechless," as well as lonely. She mistakenly took Marianne to be impoverished, though in fact she left a large estate (7837 gulden).

Marianne died on 29 October 1829, and was buried in the churchyard of the abbey of St Peter, Salzburg.

Marianne in literature

Marianne was the subject of a "biography in poems," The Other Mozart by Sharon Chmielarz (ISBN 0-86538-101-1).

The popular young adult author Carolyn Meyer wrote of Nannerl's life in her novel In Mozart's Shadow: His Sister's Story.

Mozart’s Sister, a novel by Alison Bauld was published in the UK by Alcina Press in 2005 and in Australia by Port Campbell Press in 2006. It follows Nannerl Mozart's life through marriage, children, widowhood and death in conversations with her nephew Franz Xaver, Mozart’s younger son. Bauld has also published a fictional diary as Nannerl Mozart in the form of Nannerls' blog.

La sorella di Mozart, a novel by Rita Charbonnier, was published by Casa Editrice Corbaccio s.r.l. in Italy in 2006 (English translation by Ann Goldstein in 2007). In this novel, Nannerl initially tells her life's story through a series of fictional letters to the Major Franz Armand d'Ippold, with whom she is in love. When they later break off their relationship, it has little or nothing to do with Nannerl's father, Leopold. In this book, Nannerl is portrayed as being supremely frustrated and debilitated by her father's refusal to acknowledge her ability to compose music. At the end of the book, Nannerl goes to Vienna on her brother's death, buys his remaining manuscripts from his widow, and apparently begins devoting her life to the promotion and study of Wolfgang's music, despite their previous estrangement.


  1. "-erl" is a diminutive suffix in German. The derivation of "Nannerl" is most likely via "Nanna", a toddler's mispronunciation of "Anna", with the -erl suffix then attached.
  2. New Grove
  3. Solomon 1995, 404
  4. Solomon 1995, 389
  5. Mileage obtained from
  6. Deutsch 1965
  7. Source for this section: Solomon 1995, 389-392
  8. Solomon 1995, 399
  9. Source for this paragraph: Solomon 1995, 399
  10. Solomon 1995, 414
  11. New Grove,
  12. Deutsch 1965, 338
  13. Solomon 1995, 501
  14. Solomon 1995, 502
  15. Source for last years: New Grove
  16. Source for burial: New Grove
  17. Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, ISBN 978-0-307-34678-0.


  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, online edition, article "Mozart". The section of the article on Maria Anna Mozart is by Eva Rieger. Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

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