William Sterling

Fanny Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn and Mendelssohn

Fanny and Felix had a closer bond than probably any two other musicians but had very different careers due to their difference in gender. In his youth, Felix was described as the Mozart of the C19th but some considered his sister Fanny to be even more talented. She was destined by convention to remain an amateur whilst he became the most famous composer of his day.

This course re-examined their very different contributions to the History of Music and what might have been. The course ran chronologically examining the lives and works of the two composers from their early days to their deaths within six months of each other. Each week three or four of Fanny’s works and five or six of Felix’s works were examined and listened to. These included Fanny’s small number of chamber works and larger choral works along with many of her smaller works, especially her works for solo piano and her songs. Felix’s works included his great series of chamber works from his teenage Octet to his mature quartets and trios; his orchestral works including the ever popular Scottish and Italian Symphonies, the piano concertos and violin concerto, and the overtures to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Hebrides, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and others; choral works such as St Paul and Elijah; his piano solo works, songs and other smaller scale works.

I ran this course at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) October-December 2000.

Fanny Mendelssohn – Pioneer of Equal Opportunities for Women Composers

Recognised by the privileged few who knew her as one of the most gifted musicians of her age, Fanny Mendelssohn had to struggle her whole life against the prejudice of both her family and the society in which she lived to be recognised as the equal of her male contemporaries such as her brother Felix and others like Liszt, Chopin and Schumann. For her struggle to have been successful we need to perform and listen to her music so come and find out whether it is worth it.

I gave this talk to the DfE Music Society in July 2002.

Fanny Mendelssohn Chronology

Below is the spreadsheet I created for these classes showing a comparative life of the two Mendelssohns and Fanny’s works.

Fanny Mendelssohn life and works