Sunday, November 14, was Fanny Mendelssohn’s 205th birthday.
I wrote about Fanny recently in conjunction with R. Larry Todd’s new work, Fanny Hensel – The Other Mendelssohn. Big sister of Felix, Fanny demonstrated the same musical aptitude as her brother, and received a very extensive music education, but faced tremendous social pressures to conform to gender roles. Though she was prevented from publishing her music during her lifetime, she was not entirely silenced. She continued to write chamber works and songs, considered to be fairly “acceptable” forms for women to compose, and host musical salons in her home to have her music heard.
Her works, which total over 400, are now being published and performed. In fact, you can purchase many of her lieder and works for solo piano here.
In fact, the American Symphony Orchestra just performed one of her few large works, “Musik für die Toten der Cholera-Epidemie: Oratorium Nach den Bildern der Bibel” (“Music for Those Who Dies in the Cholear Epidemic: Oratorio After Scenes From the Bible”), which is an all too fitting piece for the current situation in Haiti. You can read a review of the performance here.
So, let’s have some cake in honor of Fanny and in celebration of the musical legacy that she fought to create and preserve for future generations.