Nova Scotia

The lost work of Maria Anna Mozart inspires $10K prize for female composers

In an effort to keep the work of female composers from being lost to time, a retired Halifax professor has created an award that offers a cash prize to women who create orchestral music.

Jane Gordon was inspired by Mozart — Maria Anna Mozart — the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus

Maria Anna Mozart, older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, toured with her brother performing across Europe. (Wikipedia)

In an effort to keep the work of female composers from being lost to time, a retired Halifax professor has created an award that offers a cash prize to women who create orchestral music.

Jane Gordon taught sociology and women's studies at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax for almost 40 years. She was inspired by Mozart — Maria Anna Mozart — the older sister of the better known Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

"When their parents toured them around Europe as child prodigies she was part of the team. She played and I understand she composed as well," Gordon told CBC's Information Morning.

She said, unfortunately, none of Maria Anna Mozart's music survived into the modern day.

"She followed the traditional path for woman, she married, took care of a family and managed a household.  Although we know she composed from correspondence among the family members, none of her music survived. None," said Gordon.

"And we know that her brother Wolfgang thought that her music was incredible. To me, that illustrates the story of so many creative women throughout history."

The music of Maria Anna Mozart (right) has been lost to time, unlike that of her more famous brother, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. (Wikipedia)

Preserving and promoting the work of women

To preserve and promote the work of female composers, Gordon, working with Symphony Nova Scotia, created the Maria Anna Mozart Award.

"I'm concerned about the role of women in society and I was trying to think of a way to use what financial resources I had to promote women," she said.

Gordon said in all the years she has been going to the symphony she has very seldom heard the music of a female composer.  

This is a portrait of Maria Ana Mozart circa 1785. (Wikipedia)

The cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded every three years to a female composer who is also a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.

Applicants must submit a resume, application form, sample scores of up to three completed works (one scored for a full symphony orchestra) and either a video or audio recording of at least one (preferably symphonic) work. The deadline is March 1 and the winner will be notified May 15.

Symphony Nova Scotia will perform the work of the winning composer on International Women's Day, March 8, 2018.

With files from Information Morning

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