The Genius of The Other and Forgotten Mozart

Sylvia Milo in The Other Mozart, photo by Little Matchstick Factory7:30 pm • Wednesday, March 1st 2017
University at Albany Performing Arts Center • Albany, NY

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart …. probably one of the best known and beloved composers around the planet. But not too much is known or attributed to his older sister Maria Anna (1751-1829). We do know that Maria Anna went by the nickname “Nannerl.” And, by way of relating the tale of her younger brother’s prodigy, we know it was through Nannerl’s clavier lessons from their father Leopold, that three-year-old “Wolfie” began his keyboard work by playing around with chords and eventually mastering Nannerl’s clavier music to then tackle the violin. Somewhere through Wolfie’s fame as well as time, the story of Maria Anna—a prodigy, keyboard virtuoso and composer in her own right—has been neglected and faded.

Imagine an eleven-year-old girl, performing the most difficult sonatas and concertos of the greatest composers, on the harpsichord or fortepiano, with precision, with incredible lightness, with impeccable taste. It was a source of wonder to many.” – Augsburger Intelligenz (May 19, 1763)

However, The Other Mozart —the monodrama, which The New York Times called “strikingly beautiful,” is out to change that and being presented at the University at Albany on Wednesday evening. A fitting way to welcome March … Women’s History Month.

Created, written, and performed by Sylvia Milo, The Other Mozart is the true and untold story of Nannerl Mozart. The play is set in and on a sweeping 18-foot dress (designed by Magdalena Dabrowska from the National Theater of Poland) and directed by Isaac Byrne. It is based on facts, stories and lines pulled directly from the Mozart family’s humorous and heartbreaking letters. Along with music composed by her famous brother and Marianna Martines (an Austrian singer, pianist and composer of the classical period who inspired Nannerl), original music was written for the play by Nathan Davis and Phyllis Chen (of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and the International Contemporary Ensemble) using clavichords, music boxes, bells, teacups, and fans.

Indeed, it does seem that with the opulence and intriguingly captivating dress and hair design, the performance will transport us into a world of outsized beauty and delight, as well as one of overwhelming restrictions and prejudice. Sounds fascinating … And at last the other Mozart tells her story.  Happy musicking!

Note:  There will also be a special morning matinee performance of The Other Mozart for high school groups on Thursday, March 2 at 10 am. Educators wishing to receive information and/or make reservations for this matinee should contact the UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s main office at (518) 442-5738 or PAC@albany.edu.

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