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Fanny Mendelssohn

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Fanny Cäcilie Mendelssohn (14th November 1805–14th May 1847), later Fanny Hensel, was a German pianist and composer, and was the sister of Felix Mendelssohn; they were the grandchildren of the distinguished Jewish philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn.

Fanny Mendelssohn composed 466 pieces of music, including a piano trio and several books of solo piano pieces and songs. A number of her songs were originally published under her brother’s name in his opus 8 and 9 collections. One of these songs, “Italy”, was a favourite of Queen Victoria, who thought Felix had written it. Her piano works are often in the manner of songs, and carry the name “Lieder ohne Worte” (Songs without Words). This style of piano work was most successfully developed by her brother, though some modern scholars assert that Fanny may have preceded him in the genre. She was also the only known composer of the time to depict the months of the year musically, which she did in her collection of pieces Das Jahr (“The Year”).

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