THE OTHER MOZART is a play with incidental music concerning the true, but forgotten, story of Nannerl Mozart, the sister of Wolfgang (“Wolfi”) Amadeus. Five years older, she was herself a child prodigy, a keyboard virtuoso, and a composer, performing for royalty throughout Europe with her brother to equal acclaim. Her story has been lost to history. Researched, written and performed by Sylvia Milo, it’s on stage at Shea’s 710 Theatre (710 Main Street, Buffalo, 14202 at the corner of Tupper, the old “Studio Arena Theatre”) this Thursday through Sunday, May 4 through May 7. Runtime is 75 minutes without intermission, Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:00, and Sunday afternoon at 2:00.
It’s no secret that for centuries it has been difficult for women to simultaneously pursue a career in general, and especially one in music. Some famous examples include Clara Wieck, wife of Robert Schumann, who was a famous touring concert pianist, but was expected to also be the primary care-giver for the Schumann’s children. Alma Schindler, wife of Gustav Mahler, was told by her husband that there was only room for one composer in the family, and that was going to be him. American composer and pianist Amy Marcy Cheney, who after marriage was known by her husband’s name as Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, was forbidden by said husband from performing in public. In our time, it has only been recently that the famous Vienna Philharmonic has allowed women in their ranks. Our own BPO maestra, JoAnn Falletta, is a source of international curiosity, since the number of major female music directors can be counted on the fingers of one hand. As they say “the exception proves the rule.”
While life was often hard for the Mozarts, this is not a depressing play. In fact, it celebrates the life of a forgotten genius – Nannerl – ‘the other Mozart.’
So, one day while touring the apartment (now a museum) where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in Vienna, Sylvia Milo noticed a small family portrait wherein she saw, sitting at a harpsichord next to Wolfi, a woman with a fabulous hairdo. Curiosity took hold and this led to research and the discovery that “Mozart” had a sibling who was his equal in every regard. Her family nickname was “Nannerl.” However, when she turned 18, Nannerl was duty bound to prepare herself for marriage and to cease the unseemly (for an eligible woman) pursuit of serious music composing and performing. The fascination with the fact that there was an “other” Mozart ultimately led to the play that is on stage this weekend.
In conversation Sylvia Milo recounts what life was like for Nannerl and, in part, for the entire Mozart family, forced to travel frequently to find employment, often getting paid in gifts, and not the hard cash they needed. While life was often hard for the Mozarts, this is not a depressing play. In fact, it celebrates the life of a forgotten genius – Nannerl – “the other Mozart.”