MENDELSSOHN HENSEL, FANNY CAECILIE (1805–1847), pianist and composer. Born in Hamburg, the eldest of four children of Lea and Abraham Mendelssohn, she was part of a close family circle that included many intellectuals, including her grandfather, moses mendelssohn . Along with her siblings, Fanny was secretly converted to Christianity by her father, Abraham, in 1816. He and his wife were baptized in 1822. The name "Bartholdy," which came from a family real estate holding, was then added to their surname to establish them as Christian and distinct from their Jewish extended family. The Mendelssohn Bartholdys distanced themselves from Judaism, but continued relationships with Jewish relatives. For them, Protestant Christianity reflected the highest levels of civilization, morality, enlightenment ideals, and toleration. Despite their conversions and dedication to German culture, the family experienced antisemitism at many levels. Fanny was well educated. In 1820 she and her brother felix mendelssohn , also a child prodigy, were admitted to the Sing-Akademie in Berlin under C.F. Zelter. While Fanny Mendelssohn displayed extraordinary musical talents, her professional ambitions were not encouraged. Although she and Felix both studied composition with Zelter, Fanny was always told that her future was to be a wife and mother. Felix, with whom she had a complex relationship, delighted in her musical compositions but discouraged their publication. Fanny advised Felix on his compositions and greatly aided him on various projects. The siblings had an important musical collaboration throughout their lives that has only recently been recognized. Fanny met the artist Wilhem Hensel, the son of a Lutheran pastor, when she was 15. Despite her mother's objections, they married in 1829 and had one child, Sebastian, in 1832. Her husband encouraged not only her piano playing but her composition and conducting. Fanny composed lieder, cantatas, and instrumental works for her own family and friends' entertainment. According to the fashion in Berlin, she held musical salons, Sonntagsmusik, at her family home, where she performed, conducted, and gave life to some of her own music. Over the years, her series grew in reputation and Berlin society, nobility, and famous personalities such as Franz Liszt attended and admired the skills of Frau Hensel. In 1846, Mendelssohn composed her masterpiece, the Trio in D Minor for Piano, Violin and Cello, and in that same year, with Felix's blessing, she published Sechs Lieder, Opus 1 (1846) and Vier Lieder fuer das Pianoforte, Opus 2 (1846). The following year she continued to release compositions, some of her Gartenlieder: Sechs Gesange fuer Sopran, Alto, Tenor und Bass, Opus 3 (1847), Six Melodies for Piano, Opus 4, no. 1–3 and Opus 5, no. 4–6 (1847). Additional works were published   posthumously but most of Mendelssohn's over 500 compositions remain unpublished. Those that were encountered skepticism, as it was then considered impossible for a woman to have the creative power to compose music with any depth. Fanny Mendelssohn died suddenly of a stroke while rehearsing for a concert. She had completed her last composition, Bergeslust (Mountain Pleasure), just the day before. (Judith S. Pinnolis (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Mendelssohn — Mẹndelssohn,   1) Arnold Ludwig, Komponist, * Ratibor 26. 12. 1855, ✝ Darmstadt 19. 2. 1933; Großneffe von F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy; wurde 1880 Organist in Bonn, 1882 Musikdirektor in Bielefeld, 1891 Gymnasialmusiklehrer und Kirchenmusikmeister… …   Universal-Lexikon

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