For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher gives a glimpse into the life of musical genius Wolfgang Mozart’s older sister who was a musical talent in her own right, but who was forced to give up her career.
Growing up in a time when young women were not encouraged to study music, Maria Anna Mozart managed to convince her music teacher father to give her lessons. Not only did she play well enough to tour with her younger brother, but she also composed pieces (which unfortunately have been lost). When she got older, however, she was forced to stay at home and give up her career. Finally she married and moved to a small town with no outlet for her talents. Rusch manages to keep the text fast paced and light enough that the sadness of the later events of Maria Mozart’s life are not too overwhelming.
The cover of the book indicates the illustrations are “paintings” by Johnson and Fancher, but they are some much more. Each piece has fabric incorporated into it as a collage that is so wonderfully textured you want to run your fingers over it.
How does the story of Maria Anna Mozart matter? For some children it may be simply an intriguing sidebar to history. To children who want to become musicians, however, it may strike a “chord” and the message becomes much more important. There has been a strong bias against women musicians even to this day. One study by two economists, Cecilia Rouse and Claudia Goldin, showed that women were less likely to be hired to perform in orchestras unless the auditions were held blind, that is the identity of the musician was hidden behind a screen (Blind auditions key to hiring musicians). The message that women can be expert musicians may encourage more budding talents to continue with their studies and also to let them know that others have been subject to bias.
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Tricycle Press (February 8, 2011)
And for older children: In Mozart’s Shadow: His Sister’s Story by Carolyn Meyer
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2008)
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This week’s post is at Check It Out.