Maria Anna Mozart: Forgotten Musical Prodigy

The story of Maria Anna Mozart, older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, illustrates how social expectations have limited success for women and girls. She was a musical prodigy, perhaps a better musician than her younger brother, but her career was cut short because at the time, it was not considered acceptable for an adult woman to be a professional musician. Early Life Maria Anna Mozart, like her more famous brother Wolfgang, was born in Salzburg, eldest of seven children; only Wolfgang and Anna survived infancy.  She was born on July 30, 1751, and her brother (with two children who did not survive born in between) on January 27, 1756. Maria Anna was known within the family as Nannerl. Her father, Leopold Mozart, was a professional musician. He composed, conducted, and taught, as well as played violin. Her mother, Anna Maria Walburga Mozart, cared for her husband and children lovingly, and she often accompanied them on their musical tours. The difficult birth of Wolfgang left Anna Maria unable to have more children. Emerging Prodigies When Maria Anna was seven, her father began teaching her to play the harpsichord. She took to it readily, as did her two-year-old brother. Their father realized quickly the depth of their talent and continued teaching them over the next three years. In 1762, Leopold Mozart took his family on a concert tour throughout western and central Europe. They played private concerts for nobility and...

Read More

Nelly Sachs, Nobel Literature Laureate

Nelly Sachs won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. A German Jew born in Berlin, December 10, 1891, Nelly Sachs began writing poetry and plays early. Her early work was not notable, but Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf exchanged letters with her and encouraged her writing. In 1940, Lagerlöf helped Nelly Sachs escape to Sweden with her mother, escaping the fate of the rest of her family in Nazi concentration camps. Nelly Sachs eventually took on Swedish nationality. Nelly Sachs began her life in Sweden by translating Swedish works to German. After the war, when she began writing poetry to memorialize the Jewish experience in the Holocaust, her work began to win critical and public acclaim. Her 1950 radio play Eli is especially noted. She wrote her work in German. Nelly Sachs was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966, along with Schmuel Yosef Agnon, an Israeli poet. She died on May 12, 1970. Also Known as: Nelly Leonie Sachs, Leonie...

Read More

Declaration of Sentiments – 1848 Women’s Rights Convention

When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott wrote the Declaration of Sentiments to call for women’s rights, for a gathering of women at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention, New York, in 1848, they deliberately used the American Declaration of Independence as a model. Following is the text of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, 1848. The paragraph numbers were not in the original, and are included to make discussions of the document easier. Source: History of Woman’s Suffrage, vol. 1, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1887. Seneca Falls Declaration, 1848 When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of...

Read More

Isabel Neville

Known for: her dynastic role in the Wars of the Roses, and the fates of her children, grandchildren and other descendants. As with many medieval women, she’s known mainly for her heritage, her marriage and her descendants. She was heiress to a fortune and title, and for her father’s arrangement of her marriage to a possible heir to the English crown. Her father later arranged the marriage of Isabel’s younger sister, Anne Neville, first to the Lancastrian heir presumptive to the throne, then to another likely heir, a Yorkist. Title: Duchess of Clarence (by marriage) Dates: September 5, 1451 – December 22, 1476 Also known as: Isabella Neville Family of Isabel Neville Mother: Anne Beauchamp (1426-1492?). Countess of Warwick in her own right as the surviving daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and his second wife, Isabel le Despenser, and inheritor of his estate after the death of Anne de Beauchamp’s brother Henry Neville and his daughter, also named Anne Beauchamp. Father: Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (1428-1471). He was known as the Kingmaker for his successful support first of Richard, Duke of York, in his unsuccessful conflict for the crown against Henry VI, then of Richard’s son Edward IV’s successful campaign, then turning to the imprisoned and dethroned Henry VI and his son, Edward, the Prince of Wales, briefly supporting the kingship of his son-in-law George,...

Read More

Anne Beauchamp

Known for: heiress who was the wife of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick and the mother of Anne Neville, queen consort of Richard III of England Title: 16th Countess of Warwick (in her own right) Dates: July 13, 1426 – September 20, 1492 Also known as: Anne Neville, Anne de Beauchamp Background, Family: Mother: Isabel Dispenser. Isabel Dispenser’s father was Thomas le Despenser, descended from Hugh Despenser the Younger (and the Elder). Hugh Despenser the Younger was infamous during the reign of King Edward II as a favorite of the king. Isabel’s mother was Constance of York, whose mother was Isabella of Castile, a daughter of King Peter of Castile by his mistress Maria de Padilla. Constance of York’s father, thus Isabel’s maternal grandfather, was Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, a son of Edward III. Father: Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick. He was a godson of Richard II and was knighted at the coronation of Henry IV. Among his many noble ancestors was Roger Mortimer. Siblings: full brother: Henry Beauchamp (1425 – 1446), 14th Earl of Warwick, 1st Duke of Warwick. He married Cecily Neville, a granddaughter of Ralph Neville and Joan Beaufort. Joan Beaufort was the daughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. Cecily was named for her paternal aunt, also Cecily Neville. half-sister, shared mother: Elizabeth de Beauchamp (1415 – 1448). She married Edward Neville, a son of Ralph...

Read More

Margaret of Austria

Known for: governor of Habsburg Netherlands 1507-1515 and 1519-1530, not as a mother or wife. Her life is marked with connections with three generations of complicated political intermarriages. Titles: Princess of Asturias (first marriage); Duchess of Savoy (second marriage) Dates: January 10, 1480 – December 1, 1530 Background, Family: Mother: Mary of Burgundy, daughter of wealthy heiress Isabella of Bourbon and of Charles, Duke of Burgundy. Mary of Burgundy was, in her own right, Duchess of Burgundy from 1477 until her death in 1482. Father: Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death in 1519. He was the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal, daughter of Eleanor of Aragon and Edward, King of Portugal. Edward’s mother, Philippa of Lancaster, was a daughter of John of Gaunt who was a son of Edward III of England. Siblings: Margaret’s brother was Philip I of Castile, who extended the Habsburg empire to include Spain by marrying Joanna of Castle (called Juana the Mad), a daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand V of Aragon. Margaret had relatives in most of the royal families of Europe: Spain, France, England, Portugal, Germany and others. Marriage, Children: betrothed to: the future Charles VIII of France husband: John, Prince of Asturias (married April 3, 1497; heir-apparent to Castile and Aragon) one stillborn daughter husband: Philibert II, Duke of...

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest