Music in the Making: It’s All About The Mendelssohn Family

Talent runs in families…and Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn were no exception!

On this week’s episode of Music in the Making, it’s all about the Mendelssohn family. You’ve no doubt heard some of Felix Mendelssohn’s famed compositions…but what about his sister, Fanny? She, too, was an excellent composer, though her aspirations were thwarted by her gender. This week, we’ll hear music by them both.

Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn
Fanny & Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: Fantasie in F-sharp minor, op. 28

Anton Kuerti (piano)


Moores Opera House

Both Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn were precocious children who revealed their musical talent early on. Their family fostered their skills; both received piano and counterpoint instruction. Felix was encouraged throughout his life, becoming a successful composer. We’ll hear the first movement of his Fantasie in F-sharp Minor, originally known as the “Scottish” sonata, which became a particular favorite of his sister’s—she borrowed a melodic phrase, quoting it in one of  her own later compositions.


Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Sechs Lieder, op. 1

Ruth Tomfohrde (piano), Timothy Jones (baritone)


Moores Opera House

While Felix’s career was encouraged, his sister’s was deemed unacceptable due to her gender: her father wrote “Music will perhaps become his profession, while for you it can and must only be an ornament.” Despite this, she continued to compose, and eventually even published a set of lieder in 1846 under her own name and without her family’s approval.

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80

Kyung-Sun Lee (violin), Kristen Yon (violin), Ivo-Jan van der Werff (viola), Norman Fischer (cello),


Duncan Recital Hall

Fanny’s life came to an abrupt halt at the age of 41, when she died from a stroke. Felix was overwhelmed with grief, and dedicated his sixth string quartet to her, describing it as his “Requiem for Fanny.” Felix himself would pass away soon after, and the siblings were reunited in death—they were buried next to one another in Berlin.


This episode originally aired Sunday, February 4th, 2018. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.