Cover Image: The Mozart Girl

The Mozart Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I've been wanting a novel about Nannerl for a long time now, and this did not disappoint. While a lot of it is steeped in fiction, it's also explorative and holds a 'what if' kind of vibe.
Was this review helpful?
The Mozart Girl follows the sister of the famous composer. We do get to see Mozart as a child, as well and it was nice to see him less serious.

I like Nannerl's character and how she was presented. I think this is a good empowering book for young artists as it shows how Nannerl overcame the obstacles in her way that her father kept putting up to stop her and for the focus to stay on Mozart. 
While this was a story of fiction multiple different parts were true which was nice to see added in as well. 
As a middle grader, I would have loved this book and seeing Nannerl defy the odds.
As an adult, I found it a good story that will empower the younger generation.
Was this review helpful?
Not particularly fascinating and questionable in accuracy. Overall not bad, just not anything that I would go out of my way to recommend.
Was this review helpful?
The Mozart Girl is a much-needed portrait of an overshadowed young musician. Nickel explores themes of creativity and self-discovery through Nannerl Mozart's biography while writing in a style accessible to middle grade readers.
Was this review helpful?
Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart enjoys beautiful gowns, birthday gifts, and sweets as much as any 12-year-old girl, but she has an extraordinary talent and big dreams. She yearns to perform music before royalty and to become a world-famous composer. The first goal may be achievable, but the second sadly isn’t, because she lives in Salzburg in 1763, and only boys like her younger brother, Wolfi, can hope for a musical career. Although “Nannerl” loves her playful sibling, she’s jealous of the attention he receives and dislikes doing household chores while he practices music. As the Mozart parents and their two Wunderkindern head out on a Grand Tour, from Munich’s Nymphenburg Palace to Versailles, Nannerl writes in her journal, performs for high-ranking audiences, and secretly composes her own symphony.

This lively middle-grade novel will make young female readers glad they live in today’s world rather than in the 18th-century Habsburg Monarchy. There’s no escaping the unfairness of Nannerl’s situation (in fact, I found myself wishing this theme was handled less heavy-handedly). Readers will also sense Nannerl’s elation when the Elector of Bavaria acknowledges her talents and requests a special concert just to hear her play (this is based on fact). Through a subplot involving the Elector’s musically accomplished sister, Sopherl, the novel highlights the importance of female solidarity. Nickel also shows how Nannerl’s envy of her brother is solely because of societal strictures. Wolfi is depicted as an incredibly gifted, mischievous boy who looks up to her. The cultural atmosphere is well-evoked, from German holiday specialties to costumes to travel; with sedan chairs as the proper mode of transport at Versailles, Papa Mozart worries how he’ll afford it. A swift-moving novel that will inspire readers to seek out information on the real-life Nannerl. (First published in 1996 as The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart.)

From the Historical Novels Review, May 2019
Was this review helpful?
This is a great historical middle grade novel.

I didn’t know this story about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s older sister. She was also a musician, but since she was a girl, she wasn’t given the same opportunities or credit as him. It’s a shame that just because she was a girl, she wasn’t able to pursue her dreams of playing music. Still today, we know his name but her name isn’t as recognizable.

I found it fascinating to read about how they learned and played instruments in the 18th century. I play the piano, but not as well as those kids, and I only started to learn when I was a teenager. It must have been amazing to see the children play their instruments so well.

I loved this story!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel is a historical fiction book for any age group.

This book is about Nannerl, the older sister of famous and well-known Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Nannerl was a talented musician and composer living in the time of when girls are not supposed to show their talents and have to conform to all sorts of rules. Nannerl does not want to conform but wants to show that she can be just as good as her brother (if not better)

I enjoyed reading this book as I’m sure everyone who reads it will agree.

I would like to thank Second Story Press and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a musical genius and left his imprint on the world of music. As a child prodigy, he often performed with his sister, Nannerl. She was a good musician in her own right. What was it like to be a sibling of one of the greatest composers who ever lived? Based on research and honed by imagination, a fictional account of Nannerl’s story is here to entice young readers. Those who love reading the historical genre will surely love this one! 


As we read the book, it is evident that Nannerl, as much as she loved her younger brother ‘Wolfi’ Mozart, did have pangs of jealousy toward him. As the story unfolds in the home of the Mozart family, this situation plays out. The duo is due to visit Bach, on a long tour and she wants to be at her musical best. 

The book has imagined entries from Nannerl’s diary, which gives an insight into her dreams. She wanted to be successful and wanted to be known. She desired fame and fortune. She was unapologetically ambitious. But, her brother Wolfi, young in age and high on talent, eclipsed her. 

It also evokes in the background customs and mores of the times it is set in. Nannerl’s corset hurts her and she is grumpy about it…this simple fact hints at a deeper psychological aspect, that of a girl feeling confined and not able to express herself. She also helps her mother out with household chores. Her father gives grammar lessons only to Wolfi, and teaches his how to compose symphonies, while she is supposed to play the piano, and not violin. Her apparent happiness at getting a room of her own during her visit to Paris just shows how much she yearns for freedom and mental space from her family. 
 

The reader feels her pain and disappointments. While her parents love her and take care of her, the gender discrimination comes through in the smallest of actions that they unknowingly do. 

However, does she stand up to these issues and still find her way to overcome these obstacles? How does she manage to do that? She attempts to write a symphony…. but does she finally get a chance to perform it? 

The flow of the words in this story is rhythmic, almost like the notes of music! The way music pervades the lives of the children involved in it, was also something that struck a chord with me. Nannerl is creating her own symphony in her head, in secret, and how a simple action of rubbing her brother’s back to pat him to sleep when he is ill, provides inspiration for her slow piece is something that I find amazing. 

This book goes on to show how we are shaped by the realities of our time and by the experiences we have. Wouldn’t we have been different, for good or for bad, if the significant people we interacted with during our formative years, had done things differently? 

This book led me to question- would Nannerl have been recognized as much as a genius as Wolfgang Mozart if only she had an equal opportunity to learn, train and perform as her famous little brother did? 

As the story goes by following the famous children through Europe on their performance travels, we see Nannerl’s internal growth. She grows in confidence and boldness. Albeit in little steps, her assertion of her own individuality and her talent, in a world dominated by patriarchy and over-attention to her younger brother, she insists on her own identity. Does she succeed? This is exactly what the reader wants to find out. This is exactly why the reader somehow just can’t put the book down! 

The book also opens our eyes to the women of the past. As modern readers we realize that their talents may not have had the platform they deserved due to the society and thoughts of the time. It forces us to look at genius with a different eye. If her father had given her equal attention would she not have been as popular as her brother? No one can deny his talent. But, was her talent compromised or subdued unknowingly? 

The genre of historical fiction is a fascinating one. The Mozart Girl, aka Nannerl, steals the show this time!
Was this review helpful?
Today’s featured book is The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Second Story Press (the publisher) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. The book took me only a couple of hours and made me fall in love with music.

So what is this book about?

Maria Anna Mozart was the sister of the musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Herself an accomplished musician, she spent years of her childhood traveling alongside her brother performing among the elites of European society. It’s a short book about a girl who dreams of fame in a society where women have little opportunity to achieve it.

What I liked . . .

How music consumed Nannerl. I love seeing how a character’s love of something explodes on to the page, making me fall in love with it as well.
Seeing a whole lot of famous people in connection to each other. I never realised that Bach and Mozart were from different eras or that the Mozarts grew up prior to the French Revolution and performed inside Versailles in its glory days.
 

What I didn’t like . . .

Nannerl was written as a character much younger than twelve and I struggled to reconcile her age with the way she was acting (although perhaps I was a very mature twelve year old).
It didn’t quite seem to quite fit into the historical narrative I know. Whilst I acknowledge that all authors take creative license, the views of Nannerl seemed quite ahead of her time, and I suspect that she would not have questioned and criticised her society and the opportunities available to women as much as she did. But having said that, I have a very limited understanding of 18th century attitudes so I could be completely wrong and am open to correction.
 

Conclusions

My Rating 💭/2 engagement  💭/2 enjoyment

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was set at a much younger audience and 10-12 year old me would have loved it. But if you want a little insight into life long ago, especially mid 18th Century Europe, then this might be the book for you. The book comes out on the 17th of March and if anything I’ve said interests you, why don’t you give it a go?
Was this review helpful?
This is a charming novel about Mozart’s sister. The only thing I did not like about this novel was the novel used modern slangs that people back then would not have used. Still, since this is a children’s novel, I can understand to make the story relevant for children. I recommend this for anyone interested in Mozart and his family.
Was this review helpful?
A fascinating view of the child prodigy through the eyes of his older sister Nannerl. She was an brilliant musician, but was often overshadowed by her brother and society's expectations for females. Nickel allows Nannerl to shine and assert herself in a beautiful holiday tale. Brought tears to my eyes!

A big thank you to Second Story Press and NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of this middle grade title in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Our main character, Nannerl, is Mozart's older sister who is very jealous of her brother and the favoritism shown him. While I could intellectually understand her jealousy, it got tiresome in the story. In fact, I didn't even finish the book because it didn't hold my interest.
Was this review helpful?
Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart is the older sister of the famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and with such a long name to pronounce it's not a surprise that her family has given her a shorter name - Nannerl.  This middle grade novel opens with Nannerl celebrating her 12th birthday.  Shortly after the opening scene, the reader finds that Nannerl's birthday is  overshadowed by her musical prodigy brother as he shows off his musical talents.  This is not the only time in the book in which Nannerl is given less attention than her brother Wolfi.  Although this is a historical fiction novel, the author gives plausible instances (some more historically accurate than others) in which Nannerl is overlooked by others and denied equal opportunities.  For example, Nannerl is not allowed to play the violin or organ because she is a girl.  I was drawn to this book because of its title and my lifelong obsession with Mozart.  It was fun to learn about Mozart's sister and how she secretly defies the norms of society by writing a symphony and playing instruments that only men and boys should play.    There are some author notes at the back of the book to help readers weed out what's historically accurate in the book from what is not.  Fellow musicians (young and old) would probably be the readers most likely to enjoy reading this book.  It would certainly inspire some musical girls to follow their dreams.  If it had been set in America, this book would have been a great fit for the American Girls series of books.  Thanks to NetGalley for an opportunity to review this book.  All thoughts expressed in this review are my honest opinions of the book.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting tale of Maria Anna Mozart, older sister to Wolfgang, who was also a talented, young musician. This was my introduction to Maria Anna (aka Nannerl) and her musical abilities. The Mozart Girl was a nice middle-grade tale of siblings, historical Europe, and girls' roles in the 18th century. It would make a nice addition to any classroom and inspired me to further research Nannerl's life.
Was this review helpful?
Nannerl Mozart, a 12 year old musician, is living her dream.  Traveling throughout Europe, meeting kings and queens, she and her brother Wolfgang share a special bond as the famous Mozart siblings.  But Nannerl has a secret, one that she hasn't even shared with Wolfgang.  She longs to be a composer.

Working in secret, Nannerl begins her composition while on tour with the family.  In her spare time, she sneaks away to write music and learn the violin.  But between Papa's ideas about women and music, and Wolfi's stealing the spotlight, will Nannerl be able to rise up and make a name of her own?

Loosely based on history, The Mozart Girl gives an inside glimpse into the story of a very famous and talented family.  At the end of the book, the author includes a brief explanation of which "facts" were real and which were fictitious.  While Nannerl was the talented older sister of Wolfgang Mozart, much of this story is fiction.  And while I did enjoy the book, the tone was quite modern and a bit out of character.  This is a book that I would gladly put in my daughter's hands, but with a clear understanding that this story is far from accurate.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
The older sister of the talented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Nannerl, feels overshadowed by her brother. As she tours Europe with her family, she does all she can to prove she is a composer in her own right.

This was a lovely read. Though geared to a younger audience (middle grade, I would guess), I enjoyed learning about this young composer I'd never heard of before. Nannerl was a feisty young lady and a skilled musician. The portrayal of her in this book was a delight.

The details of the tour were my favorite part. All of the nobles/dignitaries Nannerl met were interesting, and the plot was intriguing.

I would recommend this to readers who enjoy middle-grade historical fiction.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really cute, good book. I’m always interested in children’s historical fiction, and the characters were like able and the scenery was really well done.
Was this review helpful?
I can’t say it any other way: I simply adore this book...
From the first page, it is beautiful and magical and while reading it, I felt like Nannerl when she composes. The book flowed through me in images and music. A magical and very rare thing. I love it, when a book can truly transport me into a different world and reality fades away.
That is the true magic of books for me, and I value the experience because it happens so rarely.

I highly recommend getting this book by B.C. author Barbara Nickel. I can’t guarantee you will find the same magic I did, but at minimum you will enjoy a well written book about a real person, who was ignored by history, because her brother overshadowed her. It’s a shame. If Nannerl had anyone else for a brother, she would be famous and be celebrated as a genius. 

 I received a free copy from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review and would like to thank the author and publisher for this opportunity.


Posted review to goodreads and will add to amazon.com and .ca on release date
Was this review helpful?
Set in 1763, this is a middle grade (not middle-grave as I initially typed! That's a whole different genre! LOL!) novel that I originally thought was based on a diary, but no such diary exists. In fact we have almost nothing of Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia Mozart (who was a contemporary of Jane Austen), that doesn't come to us via a third party. There is a notebook that was created by her father, and which contains compositions that she played, but the only reason that survives, I suspect, is that it also contains compositions that her kid brother, the renowned Wolfgang Amadè Mozart, added to the book of his own accord.

I was disappointed to discover that the diary entries are spurious. That removed this novel further into fiction, and that became a problem for me because other than the general outline of the story - a tour which actually did take place - this book is pretty much all fiction, and for me it was way over-done. I had thought the over-wrought tone of the novel was taking its complexion from the diary, but that's obviously not the case if there is no diary.

Additionally, some of the history is a bit off and the modern language seems inappropriate. Naturally you don't want a novel of this nature to sound archaic, but a little less modern slang would have improved the tone. It's also historically inaccurate. At one point, the author is talking about wax candles when in that era, tallow was the norm, and she mentions gelatin, when aspic was the norm back then.

She frequently refers to financial woes when in fact, the Mozarts did very well for themselves in this tour, at least until both children became ill and things slowed down quite a bit, but no such illness is mentioned for "Nannerl" (Marianne), only for "Wolferl" (Mozart). I have to say that though it is historically accurate, these endless '-erl' nicknames made me want to hurl. I shall refer to the sister as Marianne which was what she went by when pet names were not used.

The worst faux pas was getting the main character's birthday wrong! Marianne turned 12 on 30 July 1763 when the family was in the middle of a three year tour of Europe, but in this novel, she turns twelve before the tour begins, and the author has her birthday in June!

At each stop during the tour, the author has her taking second place to Wolfgang whereas in reality, she was, at least initially, the star performer, but clearly this changed as Mozart the younger began to flourish, and maybe that's what the author is trying to reflect here. I don't know. I was quite confused by this point!

Another faux pas the author makes is the discussion of money. She makes the father sounds like some sort of avaricious beggar. As I said, they did well for themselves on this tour earning substantial amounts, but the author always has them sounding impoverished. That's not as bad as this one section when they visited an important family - that of Baron Kerpen and his musically talented children - and the Mozart father says at one point: “How wonderful to have such a fine orchestra, all in one family...Do you ever play in public, for money?”

That would have been an unconscionable impertinence back then. It really stood-out like a sore thumb to me, and continued a process of turning me off this story even more than I already had been. If the novel had not been so short, and I was not already over halfway through it by then, I would have DNF'd right there. As it was I made it only to eighty percent before I could not stand to read any more when the author was making a fuss about Christmas, which back in Mozart's time, was not the big event it is today. Yes, it was celebrated, but the bigger event was Saint Nicholas's Day which was early in December.

I understand this is fiction, and little is known about Marianne, particularly how she thought and felt, and that some dramatic license is permissible in a novel like this, but the portrayal of her in this story felt wrong, inauthentic, and frankly, disrespectful of such a talented young woman. It may well have been that she had the same musical yearnings as her brother, and even the same skills, but we will never know because nothing of hers survives to compare with Mozart's own work.

What does seem likely is that her facility with music was what inspired such a passion for it in her kid brother. He watched as her father taught her to play. She was an accomplished musician, but that doesn't necessarily mean it was all she ever had on her mind as is implied here.

Rightly or wrongly - obviously wrongly by our modern expectations - there were different pressures and constraints on girls back then, and certain behaviors that now are considered restrictive and even abusive, were the norm and accepted as the way things are. Precious few people saw life differently. To present her in a modern light as though she had beliefs and lofty, but frustrated ambitions that she may well not have had is an imposition and is dangerous ground for writers to traverse with such abandon.

Perhaps Marianne was exactly as she was as depicted here, but we don't know, and it seems to me to be more likely that she simply enjoyed playing, and had no other ambition. It may well be that she chose to set aside music later in life in favor of other priorities, and had no grand plans, frustrated or otherwise, that she longed to pursue.

It may have been just the opposite. The fact is that we do not know. What we do know is that women had certain expectations both for themselves, and also that were set upon them by others, particularly their parents and husbands, and we do not know exactly where her own views lay, so to present her as this thwarted, frustrated genius felt like a grave imposition to me and one which is not supported by history.

It's true that there is much debate about her talent, not so much about her playing ability, which is a given, but about her compositional skills, but as I mentioned, of those we have nothing by which to judge. She composed music, that we do know, but none of it has survived. The only real 'evidence' we have of its quality is the complimentary comments of both her father and her brother, and while I'm sure these were genuine, we do not know if father was praising a talented daughter and brother was praising a fellow prodigy, or if both were simply bolstering a beloved daughter/sibling with great praise where average praise may have been more objectively appropriate. It’s a great shame that we do not know, but the fact remains that we do not.

Where this book did well was in highlighting her playing ability, but everything else is pure speculation and I felt it serves a woman like Marianne badly to puff her up for talent (in composition) that we know nothing of, while underserving the talent she had that we can certainly attest to, based on historical records.  I cannot commend this as a worthy read therefore.
Was this review helpful?
The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel is an excellent introduction into the life of one of history’s most obscure composers - though thankfully now she is becoming less and less obscure, thanks to historians and writers like Barbara Nickel. Nannerl Mozart, older sister of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is one of my favorite historical figures, especially since I have also been a young lady musician for most of my life. I am always looking for works written about her, whether they are biographical, epistolary, or fiction like this book of Nickel’s. 

Even though I knew what was going to happen to her from what I know of her history, I nervous and excited, and, I must say, pleasantly surprised while reading The Mozart Girl. I was  compelled by young Nannerl Mozart’s dreams of becoming a famous composer and musician. In her actual history, Nannerl did not become nearly as famous as her brother Wolfgang due to her position as a woman in 18th century Europe, and I was very pleased with the changes Nickel made to Nannerl’s successes in this retelling of her early life. I will not say what these changes are, but know going into the book that they are quite satisfying. 

Nannerl goes through struggles not only because of her position as an adolescent girl, but also because of how much her brother stole the spotlight. I think many older siblings go through some jealousy over the attention a younger sibling gets, even if that sibling is not a prodigy like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Many young readers of this book will empathize with this particular struggle of Nannerl’s, and her struggles to fit into the world around her. 

The Mozart Girl  is a compelling story that readers, young and old, will enjoy. I especially recommend giving this book to young and aspiring musicians.
Was this review helpful?