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Arts & Culture

One-Woman Show Examines The Forgotten Musical Prowess of Mozart's Big Sister

"Billy B"
Samantha Hoefer portrays Wolfgang Mozart's talented older sister Maria Anna in "The Other Mozart."

"It is no longer proper."

With those five words, Leopold Mozart put an end to his daughter's music career.

That's according to Sylvia Milo's one-woman show, "The Other Mozart," set for a weekend run at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.

The piece examines the life of Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed "Nannerl," the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus. By many accounts, she was every bit the musical prodigy as her spirited sibling. And some music scholars maintain that she could have achieved greatness but for the lousy luck of being born a girl in the 18th Century.

In their childhood, Nannerl and Wolfgang began playing harpsichord under the training of their father, a minor composer. Before long they were on tour throughout Europe, captivating members of royal houses and other musicians alike. She was evidently so good a pianist that her father called her "one of the most skillful players in Europe."

But when Nannerl turned 18, her touring days came to an abrupt end. So what happened?

"That was not a life that was allowed to be pursued by girls," says Samantha Hoefer, who portrays Nannerl in the SMDCACproduction. "Girls were supposed to be married. So out of social pressure, they kept her in the house."

Nannerl eventually married and raised a family. We know from the Mozart family's letters that she wrote at least one musical composition of her own -- but none have survived.

Milo's script calls for the actress to be swathed in an enormous dress that spreads out like a rug and covers virtually the entire performance space. Toward the end of the piece, the costume/set includes what looks like a murderous whalebone corset.

For Hoefer, the costume is emblematic of a life that Mozart's gifted older sister "agreed to but certainly didn't choose."


If You Go:

"The Other Mozart" by Sylvia Milo
Performed by Samantha Hoefer

Friday, April 13 -- 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 14 -- 3:30 p.m. &  8:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 15 -- 3 p.m.

South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center 10950 SW 211th St. Miami, FL 33189


Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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