Felix Mendelssohn's Influence on Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel as a Professional Composer

Citron, Marcia J.

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, born in 1805, was four years older than Felix. They were the elder two of the four Mendelssohn children, and, largely because of their similar musical abilities and training, developed a closeness that, with very few exceptions, lasted until their deaths in 1847. Both received their earliest piano instruction from their mother, and later from the Berliner Ludwig Berger; both entered the newly-founded Berlin Singakademie; and both received training in theory and composition from Carl Friedric Zelter, the man most responsible for molding Berlin's musical life during the 1810s and 1820s. Felix being the male among the two siblings became a celebrated composer while Fanny's work was cast away because of her gender. This article follows the siblings relationships and its dynamic describing how Felix played a crucial role in all facets of Fanny's creative endeavors, especially her publishing of only a small percentage of her fairly sizeable compositional output. While supporting her efforts in private however, Felix discouraged his sister from publishing her works the full depth of which is discussed in the article.

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Columbia University
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March 26, 2015