Fanny Cecilia Mendelssohn Hensel


“the Black-Brow’d Cantor”

A lecture with music and paintings

Wilhelm Hensel 1829

Fanny Mendelssohn, four years older than her beloved brother Felix, is as talented as he. She receives the same musical education and composes prolifically in her early teens. Soon, however, she will be persuaded by her father to take a back seat in favour of young Felix. Fanny marries an artist, Wilhelm Hensel, who is proud of her gifts and enjoys collaborating with her. She continues to compose in private and even dares to conduct “I felt like Jove the Thunderer!” organizing successful Sunday concerts in their Berlin home. Aged forty, in spite of her brother’s disapproval, she finally publishes a few compositions, and is beginning to receive public acclaim when she suffers a brain haemorrhage and dies aged just forty-two.

Of Fanny’s songs her famous brother says, “They prove that true music exists…that the soul is made of music.”

With music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, portraits by Wilhelm Hensel, watercolours by Felix Mendelssohn and paintings by their great contemporary Romantic artist, Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840).

Landscape with Trees

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

Watching the Church

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)