In Mozart's Shadow: His Sister's Story

In Mozart's Shadow: His Sister's Story

4.2 8
by Carolyn Meyer

Nannerl Mozart's heart-wrenching story about life with her genius brother, WolfgangSee more details below


Nannerl Mozart's heart-wrenching story about life with her genius brother, Wolfgang

Editorial Reviews

AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 15.

Meyer sheds light on the life of a little-known historical figure, bringing Mozart's older sister's story out of the shadows into the forefront. Nannerl is a talented musician and composer in her own right, but her dreams and ambitions are eclipsed by her brother's tremendous gifts. In the volatile Mozart family, Wolfgang takes first priority. When Nannerl becomes too old to be shown off as a wonder child, her father leaves her at home and focuses all energy-and finances-on Wolfgang. Ambitious, forbidding, and overbearing, her father controls her life. He refuses to grant her permission to marry the man she loves, refuses to let her pursue a court position, to study abroad, or to do anything for her own sake. Meyer realistically captures the passions and dreams, sacrifices and suffering of Nannerl's life. Her frustrations, jealousy, and disappointed dreams give flesh and blood to her character. The strong bond and mutual affection between the Mozart siblings give the story heart. Nannerl is neither a pushover nor a rebel. She exhibits strength and resilience, gently nudging against the limitations imposed on women at the time but staying within prescribed bounds. In this touching tale, readers encounter a young woman who speaks up but still obeys her father's wishes, a woman willing to sacrifice almost all for the family and the talented brother she adores, and one who always comes back to her love of music above all else. Reviewer: Cheryl French
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

Judy Beemer
Carolyn Meyer, acclaimed author of numerous historical novels for young readers, now wonders: What must it have been like to be the sister of the bratty child prodigy Wolfgang Mozart? In Mozart's Shadow is her imaginative but research-based response. A musical genius in her own right, Nannerl Mozart repeatedly finds herself in her brother's shadow as her father insists she subordinate her own career and even her hopes for marriage in order to serve the Family Mozart. Meyer capably brings eighteenth-century European life into the reach of younger adolescents. Those who enjoy classical music will appreciate an "inside view" of Wolfgang's pranks and escapades. Girls will enjoy the touches of romance in Nannerl's life but perhaps may flinch at the domination females endured during the 1700s. Reviewer: Judy Beemer
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up- For many people, knowledge of Nannerl Mozart is confined to the footnotes of her younger brother Wolfgang Amadeus's biography, a fellow wunderkind touring the courts of Europe with her more renowned sibling before fading into the background as an adult. Meyer brings Nannerl to the fore, presenting her as a gifted, sensitive musician whose ambitions for a professional career are thwarted by the restrictions placed on her gender and the demands of her father, who is more interested in promoting his genius son. Her childhood closeness with Wolferl becomes increasingly strained as his career takes him farther from his family and ultimately to a too-early grave. The narrative occasionally descends into a dry recitation of facts, but Meyer creates interesting portraits of Nannerl, the impudent Wolfgang, and their tyrannical father. Give this one to music students and historical fiction devotees.-Christi Voth Esterle, Parker Library, CO

Kirkus Reviews
In the afterword of her haunting story about the life and times of Mozart's older sister Maria Anna-Nannerl-Meyer says that she was intrigued by the question, "What must it have been like to be the highly talented sister of a genius?"Although Nannerl, a gifted child performer with a passion for music, was outclassed by her brother, much of her frustration was the result of being a woman in a time when a musical career was not an option. Her brother may have overshadowed her, but her despotic father controlled her; he was determined to achieve glory for his son, and by extension, the family Mozart. If this was an unfettered piece of fiction, Nannerl would win out by dint of work and will, but it's fact-based, and she's not only denied a career but the love match she desires. Though her tale of woe becomes somewhat repetitious, she's sympathetic and understandable, and readers of this illuminating chronicle will be both fascinated and appalled by how restricted her life was. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.09(d)
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Carolyn Meyer is the acclaimed author of more than fifty books for young people. Her many award-winning novels include Mary, Bloody Mary, an ABA Pick of the Lists, an NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, a New York Times bestseller; White Lilacs, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, and an IRA Young Adults' Choice; and Marie, Dancing, a BookSense Pick. Ms. Meyer lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit her website at

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