On November 14, Fanny Mendelssohn is born in Hamburg, the granddaughter of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and the eldest child of the banker Abraham Mendelssohn and his wife Lea.
Birth of brother Felix on February 3.
Birth of sister Rebecka on April 11. The Mendelssohn family moves from Hamburg to Berlin for political reasons.
Birth of the youngest brother Paul on October 30.
Protestant baptism of the four Mendelssohn children on March 21 in the Jerusalem Church. Fanny takes the baptismal name Cäcilia. In the summer the family travels to Paris. Fanny and Felix receive piano lessons from the pianist Marie Bigot. After their return, the Clementi pupil Ludwig Berger takes over the pianistic training of the siblings in Berlin. Later, presumably Fanny, not only Felix, also receives lessons from Ignaz Moscheles.
Fanny plays her father the 24 preludes from the first part of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier from memory.
Fanny and Felix become composition students of Carl Friedrich Zelter. Fanny’s first surviving composition is a song for her father’s birthday on December 11: Ihr Töne schwingt euch fröhlich. The philologist Karl Heyse teaches the Mendelssohn children general subjects, including science, as a tutor. Fanny presumably learns French and Italian.
Fanny and Felix are insulted on the open street as Jews.
Fanny and Felix begin their first composition albums in March. Fanny composes numerous songs, choruses and piano pieces. On May 21, Fanny is confirmed in the Parochial Church. On October 1, Fanny and Felix join the Berlin Singakademie led by their teacher Zelter.
Fanny meets the painter Wilhelm Hensel, her future husband.
Felix travels with Zelter to visit Goethe in Weimar. The first “Sonntagsmusiken”, private concerts with professional musicians, take place in the Mendelssohn house. Fanny emerges as a pianist, probably also as a conductor and composer. Among the audience in the twenties are the Humboldt brothers, Hegel, Rahel and August Varnhagen von Ense, Droysen, Zelter and A. B. Marx.
The family travels to Switzerland. On the return trip, Fanny meets Goethe. She writes songs and a piano quartet
On February 23, the family receives permission to use the additional surname Bartholdy. In the fall Wilhelm Hensel goes to Rome on an art scholarship. Fanny composes songs, piano and chamber music
Fanny’s song Die Schwalbe appears anonymously in the almanac Rheinblüthen.
The family moves into the property at Leipziger Strasse No. 3. The
“Sonntagsmusiken” are given a larger setting in the garden hall of the house.
Felix ends his studies with Zelter.
Fanny also no longer receives lessons. She writes songs, duets, quartets for singing voices and piano pieces. Felix publishes two of Fanny’s songs in the first booklet of his op. 8.
The second booklet of Felix’s songs op. 8 appears with the duet Suleika und Hatem, composed by his sister Fanny.
In October Wilhelm Hensel returns from Italy after five years.
On January 23, Fanny becomes engaged to Wilhelm Hensel. Hensel is admitted to the Academy of Arts and appointed court painter. Felix conducts the revival of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Singakademie on March 11. Between April and December Felix stays in England, Fanny dedicates her Liederkreis to him. Fanny and Wilhelm marry on October 3; the couple moves into the garden apartment on their parents’ property. The “Sunday Music” is temporarily discontinued. For her parents’ silver wedding anniversary in December, Fanny writes Die Hochzeit kommt for solos, choir and orchestra.
On June 16, Sebastian Hensel is born, the only child of Fanny and Wilhelm Hensel. In his op. 9, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy publishes three songs by his sister.
Fanny Hensel composes three cantatas Lobgesang, Hiob and the Cantate. After the cholera stops in Berlin (oratorio based on pictures from the Bible). She resumes the “Sonntagsmusiken” under her own direction and continues them as an important cultural institution of Berlin musical life until her death. Among the guests are Liszt and the Schumann couple, along with many other famous musicians. Fanny founds and directs a choir as part of the “Sonntagsmusiken” and works as a composer, conductor, pianist and organizer.
Fanny Hensel finishes the composition of the dramatic scene Hero and Leander and writes an overture for orchestra.
Fanny Hensel performs Gluck’s Orpheus at the “Sonntagsmusiken”. Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy becomes municipal music director in Düsseldorf.
Fanny Hensel composes the String Quartet in E-flat major.
Felix directs the Lower Rhine Music Festival in Cologne, in which Fanny participates as a chorister. The Hensels then travel on to France. Felix becomes director of the Gewandhaus concerts in Leipzig.
Abraham Mendelssohn dies in Berlin on November 19.
Fanny writes numerous vocal duets and tercets, piano music and songs. She sends some piano pieces to Karl Klingemann in England, hoping to find an audience there. The music publisher Schlesinger publishes Fanny’s song Die Schiffende in an album.
Fanny Hensel performs her brother’s oratorio Paulus at the “Sonntagsmusiken” on January 22. Her song Die Schiffende is heard in Leipzig on March 6, with Felix at the piano.
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy marries Cécile Jeanrenaud.
Felix tells his mother that he does not want to support the publication of his sister’s compositions.
In February, Fanny Hensel makes a public appearance as a pianist at a charity concert: performing her brother’s Piano Concerto in G minor.
In late summer, the Hensels undertake a long-planned trip to Italy. The trip goes via Leipzig, Munich, Milan, Venice and Florence to Rome.
Fanny receives important artistic stimuli from the French scholarship holders at the Villa Medici. She makes friends with the young composer Charles Gounod, writes and sketches numerous piano works and songs. From June to September the couple travels back to Berlin via Naples, Genoa, Switzerland and Frankfurt.
Fanny Hensel composes, among other works, the piano cycle Das Jahr.
Felix moves back to Berlin as Kgl. Preußischer Kapellmeister.
1842 On December 12, Lea Mendelssohn Bartholdy dies. Felix is appointed General Music Director.
Fanny writes the cantata Faust-Szene and the piano sonata in G minor. She repeatedly notices signs of numbness in her hands.
The conservatory founded by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy opens in Leipzig.
Hensels travel to Florence in January to care for Fanny’s sister Rebecka, who is ill there. They arrive back in Berlin in August.
Robert von Keudell (1824 – 1903), a student teacher, encourages Fanny Hensel to compose and publish. The publishers Schlesinger and Bote make her offers. Solo songs, piano pieces and choral songs appear as op. 1-3.
Fanny Hensel writes the Piano Trio in D minor.
Fanny Hensel publishes more piano pieces as op. 4 and 5. First reviews of her works appear.
During the rehearsal for a “Sunday Music,” Fanny Hensel complains of the failure of her hands on May 14. She dies of a cerebral stroke on the same day. She is buried in the Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof in Berlin.
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy dies six months later on November 4.