A Young Woman Writes About her Joy and her Dreams

Life. © Charles Thibo

Do you need a break? I do. From time to time, I need to disconnect from everyday routine, the steady stream of news and from people I have to meet although I do not enjoy their company. So I close my eyes and mentally I walk off to another world. I see a young woman. She’s wearing a pale green dress and a straw head. She smiles. She stretches out her hand and with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, she whispers: “Come. I will show you something.” She rushes to the veranda and upon her return she says: “Look. I wrote this.”

I look at the papers in her hand. A piano quartet in A-flat Major. I look at her. “Fanny!” I truly love that piano quartet.

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Longing for Italy, Home of Beauty

Italy's Roman and Greek heritage attracted many 19th century artists. © Charles Thibo
Italy’s Roman and Greek heritage attracted many 19th century artists. © Charles Thibo

Let’s hear a song about spring, about a warm night in May, let’s hear about love and sorrow, the longing for home and the longing for Italy, where this composer felt at ease, far away from rigid Prussia, in a setting that gave birth to so many beautiful works: Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s talented sister. We have met Fanny already, an excellent pianist, an excellent composer, when I presented her piano cycle “Das Jahr” (H-U 385) and her Piano Trio in D Minor (op. 11) in an earlier post.

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Composing Incognito – Fanny Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn wouldn't let his sister perform in public. © Charles Thibo
Felix Mendelssohn wouldn’t let his sister perform in public. © Charles Thibo

“Fanny, as I know her, neither has the wish nor the vocation to be known as the composer [of her works]. She is a good woman busy with housekeeping and doesn’t think about the audience or the world of music or music as such, unless she is done with that first job.” The author of these lines was no lesser genius than the German composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In a letter he wrote in 1835 to his mother, he adamantly refused to support his sister pursuing a professional career as a pianist and a composer.

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