A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Hensel, Fanny

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HENSEL, Fanny Cecile, the eldest of the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family, born at Hamburg Nov. 14, 1805, and therefore more than 3 years older than her brother Felix. She was regularly instructed in music, and Mendelssohn used to say that at one time she played better than he. (See also Devrient, Recoll, p. 3). Oct. 3, 1829, she married W. Hensel, a painter, of Berlin (1794–1861 ), and on May 17, 1847, died suddenly. Her death shook her brother terribly, and no doubt hastened his own, which happened only 6 months later. Felix's letters show how much he loved her, and the value which he placed on her judgment and her musical ability. He called her 'the Cantor.' 'Before I can receive Fanny's advice,' says he, 'the Walpurgisnight will be packed up … I feel convinced she would say "Yes," and yet I feel doubtful' (Letter, April 27, 1831). 'Fanny may add the second part,' says he, in sending a Song without words (Dec. 11, 1830). Again, 'I have just played your Caprices … all was unmixed delight' (Jan. 4, 40). Still, indications are not wanting of certain over-earnestness, not to say pedantry, which was occasionally too severe for her more plastic brother. (See Letter, April 7, 34, on Melusina; 'Goethe and Mendelssohn,' p. 47, etc.)

Six of her songs were published with his without indication, viz. Op. 8, Nos. 2, 3, 12; Op. 9, Nos. 7, 10, 12. She also published in her own name 4 books of melodies and Lieder for P.F. solo; 2 ditto of songs for voice and P.F.; 1 ditto of Part-songs—'Gartenlieder' (republished by Novello 1878); and after her death a few more songs and P.F. pieces were printed, and a Trio for P.F. and Strings in D, reaching in all to op. 11. For her letters, journals, and portrait see 'Die Familie Mendelssohn,' by S. Hensel (Berlin 1879).

She is buried in the Mendelssohn portion of the Friedhof at the Hallethor, Berlin, and a line of her music is engraved on the tombstone:—

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\addlyrics {Ge -- den -- ken gehn und Lie -- der, fort bis in Him -- mel -- reich; fort bis in Him -- mel -- reich. } }

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