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