Surviving as a Woman in a Man’s World: Mozart’s Sister

Once the baby’s asleep at night, I like to watch foreign films, specially French, on Netflix. I came across a movie called “Mozart’s Sister.” As I watched it, I became increasingly interested for several reasons. I have a background in music, as I started playing the piano at 7 and the cello at 9. Music education was my minor in college. I’m also enthralled with stories about women succeeding (or trying to succeed) in a “man’s” world. Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed and suffered sexism firsthand while serving in the military, so this is an issue near and dear to me. Finally, I love history. Frankly, I can’t understand people who say they don’t like history. How can you not like history? Why wouldn’t you be fascinated to hear about your family, your culture, your heritage? I do believe that history repeats itself. I think it’s important to learn from the mistakes made by people in the past, so they’re not repeated.

Maria Anna Mozart

Maria Anna Mozart was sister to the famous composer Wolfgang Mozart. Maria Anna was a prodigy like her brother. She composed her own music, which her brother praised but her father never mentioned in any correspondence. She played harpsichord beginning at age 7, and was reportedly excellent at it. As a child, she performed all throughout Europe. But once she reached a marriageable age, her father no longer permitted her to perform. She was made to stay at home, as her brother continued to tour and perform. When Maria Ann fell in love and was proposed to, her father forced her to refuse the proposal.

When she was 32, she married a man in his 50s who already had five children. She let her father raise her only surviving child, a boy named Leopold. There’s speculation about why she more or less gave her son away. Possibly, her father wanted to cultivate another prodigy, since he was on poor terms at the time with Wolfgang.

According to my research, the above is true.

The movie, “Mozart’s Sister,” is fictionalized. In the movie, the Dauphin (crown prince) of France takes a special liking to Maria Anna and her talent. Despite her father’s disdain over her compositions and ability to play the violin, the Dauphin encourages her, and even officially commissions her to compose and perform for him. There is definitely a connection to the recently widowed Dauphin and young Maria Anna. But as the heir to the throne, he is ordered to marry a princess from another country.

It gets a little bizarre when the Dauphin invites Maria Anna into his bedroom (dressed as a man), and then has Maria Anna play the harpsichord and sing for himself and his new wife. After sending his wife away, he orders Maria Anna to kiss him. Then he starts yelling at her, threatens her, and throws her out of his room. Someone felt guilty, me thinks.

She later burns all her compositions that she’s written, and commits to following her father’s advice and directions completely.

This film is beautiful. I’ve always thought French to be a lovely, smooth language. The costumes and hairstyles in many of the scenes are exquisite. If you enjoy classical music, this film is worth watching, even if you don’t like foreign films, subtitles, or dramas. As near as I could tell, there was music in the background of every scene. Music (singing, playing, or both) was center of many scenes.

However…I should warn you, that I have yet to watch a French drama that left me feeling happy. I found them a little depressing!

Do you like to watch foreign films? What are your favorites?

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  1. Interesting. No I am not into foreign films and I am one of those people who dont know much about history – I try to watch the history channel, but the mans voice, or womans in some cases, tends to make me sleepy…history should be exciting – not boring like school.

    1. Hahah! I’ve never thought about it like that, but I guess I could see how a narrator would put someone to sleep! C-SPAN puts me to sleep. If I’m having trouble falling asleep, I just have to watch about 15 minutes of that, and I’m done for the night!

  2. Very interesting. We enjoy music and history here as well. This is a fascinating story. Had never heard it before. The movie sounds like it is worth checking out. I’m going to see if the library has a copy of it.

  3. very interesting! I did not know Mozart had a sister that played as well….
    you play the piano too? I do too! I started playing at age 7, I play both by ear and can read music as well. I play southern gospel, of course, and classical

    1. I’m not that great on the piano, because I started focusing on the cello a couple years later, but I’m good at reading music. I sing alto too. We haven’t been in this area very long, but I’m looking forward to choosing a church and getting involved in a music program again.

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