Fanny Mendelssohn’s sonata to be performed under her name for the first time

fanny mendelssohn

‘Easter Sonata’ will be performed under Fanny Mendelssohn’s name for the first time on International Women’s Day.

Sofya Gulyak, who was the first female winner of the Leeds Piano Competition, will perform the sonata at a lunchtime concert at the Royal College of Music.

The Easter Sonata was ‘lost’ for 140 years before it was eventually discovered in a French bookshop in 1970.

The piece was also previously thought to have been created by her famous brother, Felix Mendelssohn and was accredited as such. However, Dr Angela Mace Christian, a US scholar proved Fanny composed it after studying the manuscript.

Although Fanny is now consider as an equal to her brother, during her lifetime she was banned from composing by her father, who claimed a public career was unsuitable for women.

Despite this, she composed over 460 pieces of music, including a piano trio and her wedding music. Her music was written on coloured sheets of paper and illustrated by her husband. Each piece was also accompanied by a short poem.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, her great-great-great granddaughter, Shiela Hayman said, “She was an amazing woman, who persevered despite complete discouragement.”

“When she was 14, she learnt all of Bach’s 48 preludes and fugues off by heart – which is quite a thing – and her father’s response was to say, ‘That’s all very well, dear but you’re a girl, so you can’t be a musician…You’ve got to stay at home and make the lives of men better.”

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Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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