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Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Google Doodle celebrates German composer’s 216th birthday

Google animated Doodle celebrates the 216th birthday of German composer and pianist Fanny Hensel, additionally referred to as Fanny Mendelssohn, on November 14, 2021.

Who was Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel?

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel

Fanny Mendelssohn, later Fanny [Cäcilie] Mendelssohn Bartholdy and, after her marriage, Fanny Hensel, likewise referred to as Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, was born on 14 November, 1805 in Hamburg, Germany into a privileged family. She was a German pianist and composer of the early Romantic era, the elder sister and comrade of the composer Felix Mendelssohn. She is generally viewed as one of the most important woman composers of the nineteenth century.

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel experienced childhood in Berlin and got intensive musical education from teachers including her mother, Ludwig Berger, and Carl Friedrich Zelter.

She was baptised as a Christian in 1816, becoming Fanny Cäcilie Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

While experiencing childhood in the family’s new home in Berlin, Fanny Hensel showed immense musical ability and started to compose music. She received her first piano instruction from her mom.

Fanny Hensel’s mother, herself taught by a student of Johann Sebastian Bach, first taught her piano. At age 13, Hensel surprised a prodigious talent in Berlin with a private audience of 24 preludes from Bach’s masterpiece “The Well-Tempered Clavier” (1722-1742). In spite of her monstrous ability, her ability to encourage a musical career was hindered by prohibitive societal conventions.

Fanny Hensel remained musically connected with, and around 1820, she started working as an integral part of Mendelssohn family Sunday Concerts, a semi-public exhibition where she sparkled for decades as a hostess, organizer, conductor, and pianist free to explore the depths of her creativity.

In spite of the fact that her public image was dominated by her brother Felix Mendelssohn’s career, she dedicated herself to fostering the Mendelssohnian style in more than 450 compositions, which reflected her reverence of Bach and Beethoven and a creative musical approach.

At age 41, Fanny Hensel published Opus 1, the first original work published in her name and among the first published compositions by a woman, making ready for women to seek after an classical tradition historically overwhelmed by men.

In 2010, musicologists revealed the Easter Sonata, a wonderful, solo piano piece composed by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel when she was 22 years of age that had been erroneously credited to her brother Felix Mendelssohn. The piece was performed under her name for the first time in 2017, almost 190 years after its composition.

In 1829, Fanny Hensel married the artist Wilhelm Hensel and, in 1830, the two had their only child, Sebastian Hensel. In 1846, regardless of the proceeding with indecision of her family towards her musical desires, Fanny Hensel published a collection of songs as her Opus 1.

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel wrote about 500 musical compositions in all, including around 120 pieces for piano, numerous lieder (art songs), and chamber music, cantatas, and oratorios.

Six of her songs were published under Felix Mendelssohn’s name in his two sets of Twelve Songs (Opuses 8 and 9), while the few works published under her own name incorporate a few collections of short piano pieces, some lieder, and a piano trio. The greater part of her excess works exist just in manuscript. Elaborately her music is like that of her brother.

Fanny Hensel’s compositions incorporate a piano trio, a piano quartet, an orchestral overture, four cantatas, in excess of 125 pieces for the piano, and more than 250 lieder, a large portion of which went unpublished in the course of her life. In spite of the fact that praised for her piano method, she infrequently gave public exhibitions outside her family circle.

On 14 May 1847, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel died in Berlin of complications from a stroke suffered while rehearsing one of her brother’s cantatas, The First Walpurgis Night.

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s son Sebastian composed a biography of the Mendelssohn family dependent on Fanny’s journals and letters, which give a lot of data about her brother Felix.

From the 1980s onwards there has been reestablished interest in Mendelssohn and her works. The Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn Museum, which is dedicated to the lives and work of the two siblings, opened on 29 May 2018 in Hamburg, Germany.

Since the 1990s, Fanny Hensel’s life and works have been the subject of more detailed research. Her Easter Sonata was mistakenly credited to her brother in 1970, preceding new analysis of documents in 2010 revised the error.

On 14 November 2021, Google honored Fanny Hensel’s 216th birthday with a Google animated Doodle in North America, Iceland, Germany, Greece, Ukraine, Israel, Armenia, Australia and New Zealand.

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