Department or Program


Additional Department or Program (if any)


Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Claire Fontijn


Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-46) was a gifted pianist and composer of songs known as Lieder, among other music. Though educated together with her brother Felix Mendelssohn and encouraged to excel, their careers diverged at a certain point such that Mendelssohn pursued a public career as a performer and composer, while Hensel’s career was restricted to the domestic sphere. Her deep longing for travel and the exotic was reflected in her music. The two journeys from Berlin during her lifetime – Switzerland and France during her adolescence (1822), then Italy later in life with her husband and child (1839) – produced several Lieder that reflected her fascination with places beyond Berlin. This thesis explores Hensel’s unique contributions to German Romantic music and the circumstances that shaped it.