Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (German, 1805-1847): Das Jahr, "September" and others
Anniversary of her death on May 14th
We have heard the music of Felix Mendelssohn, whose musical talent was apparent from an early age. But Felix was actually the second prodigy in the family--his older sister Fanny showed similar gifts, and was his first and closest musical confidante. In fact, it is said he showed her every piece of music he wrote before sharing it with anyone else, and valued her opinion above all others.
Sadly, as an upper class "lady of leisure," Fanny did not have nearly the opportunities her brother did, and we'll never know what she was really capable of. Most of her music is in more "intimate" genres that could be performed in a parlor, such as solo piano pieces and songs for voice and piano. I find it most disapppointing that Felix himself discouraged her from publishing her music and expanding her oeuvre, though towards the end of her life she began to do both. The music we are fortunate enough to have shows a unique musical voice, and a particular feel for writing melodies which sing no matter what instrument they are written for (such as solo piano pieces like this one). Be sure to listen to a few of these "months," as they have great variety.
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!