"The name Mozart conjures the epitome of genius," says award-winning actress and playwright Sylvia Milo. But the Mozart everyone knows wasn't the only musical genius in his family. Wolfgang Amadeus had a sister named Nannerl who was five years his senior -- and perhaps his equal.
"Wolfgang began his piano lessons at 3 years old because he saw his sister play," says Milo. "The two children were taught together by their father: They received the same education in music and otherwise. They toured most of Europe performing together as wunderkinder. They were each other's only playmates. And their plaything was music.
‘The Other Mozart’
WHEN — 7:30 p.m. March 7
WHERE — Jim and Joyce Faulkner Performing Arts Center, 453 N. Garland Ave. at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville
COST — $10-$20
INFO — 575-5387
"There are reviews praising Nannerl," Milo continues. "She was even billed first at the beginning of the tours."
It all came to a screeching halt when Nannerl turned 18.
"A little girl could perform and tour, but a woman risked her reputation."
Milo had never heard of Nannerl Mozart before she visited Vienna for Wolfgang's 250th birthday celebration. It was in his apartment -- Mozarthaus Vienna -- that she saw a family portrait.
"It was her tall hairdo that drew my attention," she says of Nannerl. "I saw a woman seated by Wolfgang, at the harpsichord, their hands intertwined, playing together, looking like equals. I was astonished to discover that Wolfgang wasn't the only child prodigy in the family, that there were two Mozarts. I was astonished that nobody was telling this story. It became my mission to create this play."
After "years of research, gathering a creative team, improvising, writing and rewriting," "The Other Mozart," Milo's one-woman drama with music, will be performed March 7 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville. Much of what she learned came from Mozart family letters, which Nannerl preserved -- although most of them were between Wolfgang and their father, Leopold. Almost nothing of Nannerl's correspondence survived -- and none of her compositions.
"We have a letter where Wolfgang praises one of her pieces as 'beautiful' and encourages her to write more," Milo says. "Her father didn't write anything about it. Did she stop? Perhaps she never showed it to anybody again, perhaps she destroyed it. Maybe we will find it one day. Maybe we already did, but we attribute it to Wolfgang."
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 03/01/2019