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Lost Mendelssohn Easter Sonata Found—and it’s by Fanny, Not Felix



Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel

Duke University graduate student Angela Mace discovered that the Ostersonate [Easter Sonata] formerly attributed to Felix Mendelssohn was in fact written by his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel. [1]

The work had been considered lost.  It was found in the 20th century, then disappeared again.  Until recently.

Mace made the discovery after locating and examining a manuscript of the piece in a private collection.  She also determined that it had been written in 1828, and not 1829.

The piece is in Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s handwriting, and also contains stylistic elements that indicate that she is the composer. [2]

Here is a video containing a portion of the piece and a discussion.  Another brief video may be found here.

Fanny composed the music for her own wedding when her brother Felix was injured and could not produce the music in time. In fact, the recessional was composed the night before the wedding! [3]



Fanny Hensel: Morgengruss, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK (D-B) MA Ms. 174.

The above is a beautifully illustrated manuscript of Morgengruss by Fanny Hensel, courtesy of RISM, and below is a performance of a slightly different version of the pieceRISM holds a number of Hensel manuscripts, some of which have been digitized and are freely available online (look for the blue bar with an e to the right of the entry  with “Online lesen”).

And finally, here is Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Quartet in E-flat major




Image attributions: Portrait of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Morgengruss manuscript image courtesy of RISM under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

4 thoughts on “Lost Mendelssohn Easter Sonata Found—and it’s by Fanny, Not Felix

  1. Nice quartet by Hensel, I hadn’t heard it. Glad to see Quatour Ebène is great, they are coming to Candlelight (HCC) March 13 with an all-Beethoven (including op 130). I’ve always found Fanny’s writing the close equal of Felix’s. I used to spend a lot of time listening and studying the works of women composers, but have been largely distracted from them for a long time. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks- how neat! And it’s a more substantial, exciting and less polite piece than is more typical of the little music by Fanny that one hears- mostly pleasant small salon pieces. Another sad story of talent gone begging because of culture, economics and “women’s place.”


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Women in Music @RCM Fanny Mendelssohn, Sofya Gulyak, Laura Snowden & Joo Yeon Sir | International Classical Guitar

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