Mozart’s home-school education

Pianist Katie Mahan with historian Dr. Eva Neumayr outside the University of Salzburg.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was fairly well educated beyond music. He loved math and spoke five languages. History points to his father, Leopold, as the one who educated Mozart and his sister, Nannerl, and there's no question that Leopold Mozart taught his children music. But what about reading, writing and math? In this week's episode of Mozart Snapshots, Colorado pianist Katie Mahan explores how history has likely overlooked the real home-school teacher to the Mozart children: Mozart's mother, Anna Maria.

Mozart never attended a traditional school or university. School was compulsory for children in Salzburg in Mozart's time, but when the music gifts of the Mozart children became evident, Leopold sought an exception from the Salzburg school council so he could take his family on a multi-year grand tour of Europe. Years of traveling is how Mozart learned English, French and Italian. Learning Latin was mandated for all Salzburg children, so he spoke Latin in addition to his native German.

Leopold is credited as being the one to home-school his children, but in this episode of Mozart Snapshots, Katie speaks with a historian who says it's not plausible that Leopold was their teacher. He simply had too many other demanding music duties as a court musician. The historical evidence points to Mozart's mother being the one to home-school her children, but her contribution to their education has long been ignored.