Fanny: the other Mendelssohn (2023)

November 3rd, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri/Dir: Sheila Hayman | Doc 97′

Raising the profile of yet another uncelebrated musical genius, a new documentary unveils the little known story of Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847). This could have been just another worthy study of female endeavour but BAFTA-winning filmmaker Sheila Hayman brings her great-great-great-grandmother Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel to life in an absorbing biopic that delves into the archives and crafts a juicy tale of celebrity, sibling rivalry, and hitherto undiscovered treasure.

Fanny Mendlessohn was born in Hamburg, Germany where she always took a backseat to her more famous younger brother Felix. Despite the male-dominated classical music scene of the era she still managed to compose 450 works in a life that was cut short at 42. Fanny’s masterpiece ‘The Easter Sonata’, is performed by Decca-winning pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason who enlightens us with her own challenges in the field of classical music: and it seems little has changed since the 19th century.

This lively documentary is set on location in Berlin, New York, London, Oxford and Buckingham Palace, Fanny: The Other Mendelssohn follows in the tracks of other creative female pioneers of the 19th Century: The Bronte sisters, George Sand and Berthe Morisot. All very modern women – who just happened to live several hundred years ago.@MeredithTaylor


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