The Black-Browed Cantor

Fanny Cecilia Mendelssohn


Her life and compositions in words and music
Script written by Karin Fernald

MADELEINE PIERARD (mezzo-soprano)

Fanny Cecilia Mendelssohn (1805-47) was as talented as her young brother Felix. She received the same musical education and composed prolifically in her early teens. Soon, however, she would be persuaded by their father to take a back seat in favour of her brother. Fanny married an artist, Wilhelm Hensel, who was proud of his wife’s gifts, and enjoyed collaborating with her. Fanny continued to compose and to conduct in private, organizing successful Sunday concerts in their Berlin home. Aged 40, in spite of her brother’s disapproval, she finally dared to publish a few compositions, and was beginning to receive public acclaim when she suddenly died aged 42. Of her songs Felix said “they prove that true music exists … as the soul is made of music.”

This words-and-music evening was first performed at Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent, on Sunday June 10, 2007.