200-Year Wait for a Fanny Hensel Performance

Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn) wrote almost 250 songs, but only a handful were published in her lifetime. At long last, we have access to all of her song scores, thanks to the work of publishing houses like Furore Verlag and Breitkopf & Härtel, as well as to Timothy Parker-Langston, who recently released an online edition of Hensel’s songs. It includes scores to nearly 100 songs that had never been published before. 

What we lack now are performances. Many of Hensel’s songs have been recorded and performed in recital, but the vast majority have not. Quality performances, along with quality scores and quality scholarship, are vital if we hope to ignite interest in her music—and in the music of countless other women song composers whose works have been overlooked for far too long.

Performers like baritone Harry Baechtel and pianist Chuck Dillard are leading the way. On January 6, they did a recital at Portland State University and opened it with a performance of three Hensel songs, all of them based on poems by Johann Peter Eckermann and all of them written before she turned twenty (and also before she got married): “Am stillen Hain” (1824), “Verloren” (1825), and “Der Einsamwandelde” (1825). In all likelihood, until last week, these songs had not been heard in almost two hundred years.

Here is a video of their lovely recital, which also includes performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s “It is Enough,” from Elijah, and J.S. Bach’s cantata Ich habe genug, BWV 82. The three Hensel songs are the first pieces on the program. They begin at the 4’30” mark. 

In the event that the video above does not play, please refresh your browser or click here to watch on YouTube.


The portrait of Fanny Hensel was painted by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim in 1842. It is in the collection of the Jewish Museum, New York City.

Explore more

Harriet Ware’s “Boat Song”

“Boat Song” was Harriet Ware’s best-selling song. In particular it became a standard for two unexpectedly allied groups of singers: professional men and amateur women.

Read More

Florence Price Songs: A Playlist

A playlist of 11 songs (and 12 stellar performances) of songs Florence Price wrote to poems by Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and three Black women poets.

Read More

Vivien Lambelet Channels Gershwin

There are at least two ways to read this striking image of Vivien Lambelet: one personal, the other professional. One reading doesn’t exclude the other.

Read More