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Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mozart's Mother

Before Mozart’s Birthday—January 27, 1756—six other siblings had been born to Leopold and Anna Maria Mozart. Their story is a sad one, but not uncommon for that time.  The Mozarts’ first child, a son, lived for six months. After that, each succeeding baby lived but a few weeks, going from Baptismal register to Register of Deaths in quick succession.  Today we can barely imagine this kind of outcome, or the fear that would grind out nearly every other thought by the time of delivery. The physical stress of poor nutrition and non-existent medical care would be as hard to endure as the grief when, one after another, newborn babies died.  Nannerl, Anna Maria’s  fourth child, was the first to survive infancy. (Born in 1751, she lived until 1829.) Two more infant mortalities later, Wolfgang, the seventh and final child, was born.
To his friend Jakob Lotter at Augsburg, Leopold wrote:
“…Moreover, I must inform you that on 27 January, at 8 p.m., my dear wife was delivered of a boy; but the placenta had to be removed. She was therefore astonishingly weak. Now, however (God be Praised) both child and mother are well. She sends her regards to you both. The boy is called Joannnes Chrisostomos Wolfgang Gottlieb.”
Mozart’s mother lived the home-bound, subservient  life of an 18th Century Frau. We don’t really know much about her, except that she seems to have had an earthy sense of humor (like her son) and that she adored her children. We can easily understand the physical state she was in by the time of Wolfgang’s delivery. Since her marriage, nine years before, she had carried seven pregnancies to term.
Leopold to Jakob Lotter:
“…I can assure you, I have so much to do that I sometimes do not know where my head is. Not, to be sure, because of composition, but because of the many pupils and the operas at court. And you know as well as I do that, when the wife is in childbed, there is always somebody turning up to rob you of time. Things like that cost money and time.”
Frankly, I’m glad that control freak Leopold couldn’t violate custom and keep Anna Maria’s visitors and well-wishers away. I think, by this time, she deserved a cheering section. Both of her children, Nannerl and Wolfgang, would prove to be musical prodigies. We treasure the music Wolfgang left us, but who knows what glories Nannerl would have created too, if only she’d been allowed to continue studying, traveling and performing like her brother.  

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