Sunday, April 10, 2011
"Mozart's Sister" shown by FilmFestDC at Embassy of France; a sad tale of thwarted personal goals
FilmfestDC presented a film by Rene Feret, “Mozart’s Sister” (“Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart”), now distributed by Music Box Films, Sunday, April 10, at the Embassy of France near Georgetown University Hospital in NW Washington.
Leopold (Marc Barbe) takes his family, with Nannerl (Marie Feret) five years older than Wolfgang (David Moreau), around various courts in France. As the film begins, an axle on a stagecoach breaks, and the family stays in a convent, bringing in other female characters who will enrich the story. Nannerl has apparently composed some of the works attributed to Wolfgang, or at least written them down with quill and ink well. Eventually, Leopold confronts Nannerl with the idea that her contributions are a public distraction, even after Wolfgang has recovered from scarlet fever.
It’s pretty sad at the end when Nannerl actually tosses her own manuscripts into the fireplace. (I've only destroyed one such project in my life, a fantasy baseball register in 1955; I have lost some of my early composition manuscripts however and am entering them on a digital piano; more about that later.) There were no Xerox copies or flash drives or Internet cloud in those days. She would outlive Mozart to 78, and die poor, having tried to promote her celebrity brother's work.
The film credits didn’t list the compositions (Music Box should fix that), and some of them may have been music believed to have been composed by Nannerl. Also interesting are the original instruments, like the clavier, which sounded very different in those days.
The French official site is worth visiting, here.
The film was also shown at the Palm Springs Film Festival.
My favorite among "well known" female composers is Amy Beach; more about her some time on my music blog.
The Embassy offered a wine and cheese reception afterwards. French wine is very good for a cough, and stops it cold.