Mendelssohn(-Bartholdy) [Hensel], Fanny (Cäcilie)
- Marcia J. Citron
(b Hamburg, Nov 14, 1805; d Berlin, May 14, 1847). German composer, pianist and conductor, sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn. She was the eldest of four children born into a post-Enlightenment, cultured Jewish family. Of her illustrious ancestors, her great-aunts Fanny Arnstein and Sara Levy provided important role models, especially in their participation in salon life. Her paternal grandfather, Moses Mendelssohn, was the pivotal figure in effecting a rapprochement between Judaism and German secular culture. In Fanny Mendelssohn’s generation this movement resulted in the conversion of the immediate family to Lutheranism. Despite baptism, however, Fanny retained the cultural values of liberal Judaism.
An important element in the family circle was her special relationship with her younger brother Felix (1809–47). In close contact their entire life, they stimulated and challenged each other musically and intellectually. Fanny played a major role in shaping some of Felix’s compositions, notably his oratorio ...