He said the finding could be used to explore the tantalising possibility that Maria Anna may also have played a part in composing works written by her brother, who was five years younger.
evidence of her helping her brother. What is distinctly possible is that with the works of Wolfgang Amadeus, she may have had some involvement in it – particularly the earlier pieces. We have not found evidence of it yet.”
The five-year study, conducted with a forensic document specialist in the United States and an Australian police forensic scientist, involved analysis of handwriting and music calligraphy by members of the Mozart family.
Professor Jarvis said the research found that one of the three main scribes who wrote in Maria Anna’s music notebook – long referred to by scholars as “Anonymous 1” – was likely to have been Maria Anna herself. The notebook was used by Mozart’s father to teach him piano when he was a small child.
“In the notebook, Mozart’s father has written when Mozart learnt to play the pieces,” he said. “If his sister composed them, were they composed specifically for him to play the piano? … As a girl in the eighteenth century, it was highly unlikely Marie Anna was ever going to put her name on anything – she would not have been allowed.”
In a research paper about Mozart’s sister, Professor Jarvis concludes: “After 250 years of musical oblivion, the forensic examination has provided evidence that has enabled Maria Anna Mozart to be identified as probably Anonymous 1; and, that she is also the likely composer of over twenty pieces of music in her own Notebook.”
Just how far Maria Anna could have gone as a musician, we’ll never know. In 1769, when she was 18 years old and eligible to marry, her father ended her days on the road. While he and Wolfgang toured Italy, Maria stayed behind in Salzburg. She did not marry until 1784; in the meantime, she composed music. Wolfgang wrote from Rome in 1770: “My dear sister! I am in awe that you can compose so well, in a word, the song you wrote is beautiful.”
Being paired with a skilled musician on stage can be an intense and transforming experience. “Whether Wolfgang wanted to please his older sister or outshine her, her musical accomplishments may have driven him harder than perhaps he would have on his own.