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Fanny Hensel – Composer, Child Prodigy, and Influence of Religion

Composer, Child prodigy, and Influence of religion are all titles that could describe Fanny Hensel, a German composer and pianist. Her career as a composer has been overshadowed by her famous husband’s. In this article, we will examine her career and her influences, and then consider what career options are available to her. To learn more about this great woman, read on! Also, read about her life and legacy.


The American composer Fanny Hensel was born on February 7, 1821. She spent a year in Italy during 1839-40 and was well known there. While there, she met various artists and received recognition from those outside her family circle. While she was in Italy, she also composed an Italian-language concert aria. Her compositions are not yet available on recordings. She was dissected by her brother Edward Rothstein, but his views were not widely shared.

Her music was almost forgotten for over a century. The manuscripts of her music remained in her family until they were donated to the Felix Mendelssohn archive, which is now housed in the Berlin State Library. The discovery of these records led to the reassessment of Hensel’s career. She was once thought to be an unknown figure, but her achievements are now being recognized by music lovers.

Although she lived in the shadow of her famous brother Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Hensel composed music for piano and other instruments. While her sister Felix Mendelssohn considered composition inappropriate for women, she continued to study composition and eventually published her works. Fanny Hensel was married in 1829 and published a collection of songs in 1846. Although her husband Felix Hensel initially resisted her publishing her works, she ultimately relented and published them.

Child prodigy

The elder sister of renowned composer Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Hensel was a child prodigy. She received the same kind of musical training as her brother Felix. They developed as musicians together and maintained a close bond throughout their lives. Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, who was born in 1816, was restricted to performing at home concerts for a long time. In her final years, her musical career became more independent, beginning to compose and perform at private concerts.

Like Felix, Fanny was born into a family that valued education. Both her parents gave their children the same education, but Felix benefited from a richer upbringing. She spent several years traveling the world, meeting Goethe and learning the art of painting and music. Fanny also had a difficult time balancing her talents with her family’s obligations. She struggled with her artistic and social status.

The child prodigy’s achievements are numerous. She composed more than 400 works, including Lieder and piano pieces. Her compositions have been re-released by Furore Verlag. She also wrote an album of twelve character pieces called Das Jahr, compiled in 1840 after a trip to Italy. Wilhelm Hensel, her brother, provided illustrations for the album. They began their collaboration on a cycle of six Lieder on Droysen. Felix Mendelssohn also sent his sister an ornamental miniature painting that she had created.

Influence of religion

The influence of religion on Fanny Hensel can be seen in her marriage to Wilhelm Mendelssohn. The two were well-off citizens of Hamburg, and both were deeply religious. Their father, Moses Mendelssohn, was a well-known philosopher who sought to create a framework for friendly coexistence between Christian and Jewish Germans. While Jews enjoyed greater opportunities in Germany than in other countries, integration came at a cost. Wilhelm converted to Lutheranism to avoid becoming involved with the Catholic church.

The influence of religion on Fanny Hensel is also reflected in her work. While Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote extensively on the demonic, and struggled with its presence, he argued that it was neither good nor evil. Goethe found the demonic in the events of the world, such as the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. He also found it in revolutionary forces, such as Napoleon Bonaparte. Fanny Hensel, on the other hand, attributed her works to a demonic presence.

Although she was close to Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Hensel had a life surrounded by rivalry and sexism. Her sister and brother Felix Mendelssohn were largely oblivious to her work. However, after a few decades, a renewed interest in women’s music has led to the rediscovery of her works. This has led many researchers to recognize Fanny Hensel’s artistic talent.

Career options

Career options for Fanny Hensel were limited by her gender and family status. Although her father supported her interest in music, society discouraged women from pursuing careers in this field. As a result, Fanny was relegated to composing for the household and using music as an ornament. However, she remained dedicated to her art and became an excellent performer. Despite the limitations of her life, Fanny Hensel did not give up on her dream of being a musician.

She married the artist Wilhelm Hensel in 1829 and the two had a son named Felix Ludwig Sebastian. The name of the son is an homage to composers Felix Mendelssohn, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johann Sebastian Bach. After her mother passed away in 1842, Fanny began to manage Mendelssohn’s Berlin home. She organized concerts and occasionally appeared as a pianist. She became known for her ability to make her family proud.

Though the life of Fanny Hensel was largely confined by her brother Felix Mendelssohn, her talent was undeniably undiminished. In spite of her lack of public exposure, her works were largely unknown until a renewed interest in women’s music grew in the 19th century. This rediscovery convinced many researchers of her talent and re-released many of her works under Mendelssohn’s name.


The Death of Fanny Hensel was a tragic event in the life of German composer Felix Mendelssohn, who admired the music of the Austrian-born composer. Hensel’s wife, Wilhelm Hensel, encouraged her to publish her own music, and Fanny began to write for a public audience. She published over 450 pieces of music during her lifetime, and some of her songs were mistakenly attributed to Felix Mendelssohn for many years.

Fanny Hensel died of a stroke in Berlin in 1847. She had been rehearsing an oratorio for her brother Felix when she suddenly passed away. Her brother Felix, who died only six months later, also passed away from the same cause, so the siblings were buried together. Despite the tragic circumstances, Fanny’s works remain influential today. She was often compared to Mozart, and her works are perfect examples of her life.

In addition to being the sister of Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Hensel was a talented pianist. Her works were published under Felix’s name so that they could be heard by a wider audience. Her song was also popular with Queen Victoria. She was a role model for her male counterparts, as Felix had always been in her shadow. Despite the gender disparity, Felix and Fanny Hensel were very close.


The Diaries of Fanny Hensel is a collection of essays focusing on Hensel’s compositional process and her many musical compositions. It includes letters between Hensel and her husband, Wilhelm, that are largely unpublished. Several of these essays place Hensel’s works in biographical and cultural contexts. Although the book focuses on Hensel’s compositions, it is useful to read about her life and work as a biographer.

As a Jew, Fanny Hensel lived in the Mendelssohn family. She may have encountered issues of anti-Semitism and conversion, both of which affected her interactions with the larger world. Her father and brother, Felix and Abraham, were Jewish, and she lived in the same house. Her diaries were first published in German, as Die verkannte Schwester, in 1936. She later had a second edition published in English in 1994.

Despite the fact that Hensel’s writings are primarily a literary history, she was also an outstanding pianist. She performed in a variety of musicales, including Sunday musicales. In addition to her works, Hensel also composed piano pieces, such as Lieder für das Pianoforte and Lieder ohne Worte. The relationship between piano playing and virtuosity is explored in Cai 2002 and Nubbemeyer 2002. These larger issues have led to more biographical work that examines Hensel’s life and works.


The following biography of Fanny Hensel is a brief overview of the composer’s life and career. Born in Berlin, Fanny Hensel met her husband, painter Wilhelm Hensel (1794-1861), in 1828. They were married in 1829 and had a son, Sebastian Ludwig Felix Hensel. Fanny wrote over 500 pieces of music, mostly small-scale, intimate genres. Her opus number one was published in 1846.

This biography examines Hensel’s life and the Mendelssohn family. It discusses the composer’s relationship with her father, Felix Mendelssohn, as well as her artistic development. It also discusses anti-Semitism and the Mendelssohn family’s involvement in her works. The website of the publisher Furore Verlag includes a biography and chronicle of Hensel’s life. It also includes excerpts from Hensel’s letters, a brief overview of Romanticism, and lists of Hensel’s music.

Although Hensel’s letters and diaries were unavailable for decades, recently published versions of her work have been made available. These letters, which contain Hensel’s correspondence, will help scholarly researchers continue to study and perform her works. However, there is one caveat to researching Hensel’s life. There are many unpublished works, which are not accessible for research. It is important to consult primary sources before making a decision about the publication of a biography.



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