Feminine Musique

Fanny Mendelssohn

Fanny Mendelssohn, later Fanny Hensel, was a German pianist and composer, and was the sister of Felix Mendelssohn. Fanny benefited from the same musical education and upbringing as her brother Felix, sharing a number of his music tutors. Like Felix, who was born in 1809, Fanny showed prodigious musical ability as a child and began to write music. As an adult, however, her role as a musician was greatly restricted because of her gender. She was advised neither to expect publication (although her brother published several of her works under his own name) nor to pursue a career as a pianist. Her father wrote to her in 1820, 'Music will perhaps become his (i.e. Felix's) profession, while for you it can and must be only an ornament.' Nevertheless she did continue to compose quite prolifically, mainly for the piano and voice, forces which were available to her in the family salon which constituted her musical outlet.

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