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The Letters of Fanny Hensel To Felix Mendelssohn

collected edited and translated with introductory essays and notes

Marcia Citron

755 pp.

4 illustrations

ISBN: 978-0918728524

hardback $95.00

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Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-47) pianist and composer maintained a prolific and witty correspondence with her younger brother Felix over the course of approximately 25 years which is here presented in English translation with the original German for reference. As the leader of a vibrant salon Hensel deploys her critical prowess to describe Berlin musical life including its conservative institutions and personalities as well as to evaluate Felix's works-in-progress in detail. We also learn about Hensel's own compositions her attitudes toward herself as a composer and the significance of Felix's views on the formation of those attitudes. Hensel's letters provide a fascinating glimpse into the problems and challenges facing gifted women musicians in the nineteenth century.

The 150 letters are drawn from the Green Books collection of letters addressed to Felix Mendelssohn in the Bodleian Library Oxford.

Reviews-These letters reveal Fanny Mendelssohn to be a thoroughly fascinating individual one whose special relationship to Felix would be enough to guarantee the interest of the documents. But we soon become engrossed with Fanny herself as composer as critic as musical commentator and figure in the musical life of Berlin. To watch this world through her eyes is to watch it come alive through the wisdom wit and grace of a remarkable person. Citron has a gift for rendering the substance and spirit of these letters into charming and effective English prose that preserves something of the formality of nineteenth-century discourse together with the passion and spirit of Fanny Mendelssohn. Philip Gossett

...reading this volume is a pleasure not just a musicological duty. Clifford Bartlett

the volume contains penetrating and highly scholarly critical commentaries and is a valuable addition to mendelssohniana. J.R. Belanger Choice April 1988


Marcia Citron:

Lovett Distinguished Service Professor of Musicology at Rice University. In addition to her Hensel Letters book, she has published in the area of gender the award-winning book GENDER AND THE MUSICAL CANON and a bio-bibliography of Cecile Chaminade. In her current area of opera and film, she has authored WHEN OPERA MEETS FILM (2010, Cambridge University Press) and OPERA ON SCREEN (Yale UP, 2000). She has served on the board of the AMS and garnered grants from NEH and DAAD.