Meet the Composer: Fanny Mendelssohn

CN thumbnail Fanny Mendelssohn

Age Range: Elementary

Introduction: Composers write music, just like authors write books. In the Class Notes “Meet the Composer” series, we will learn a little bit about the achievements, backstory, and influences of a variety of composers. Get ready to learn about these influential composers and listen to some of their music.

Free Download: Printable Lesson Plan and Visual Aids: Fanny Mendelssohn


Fanny Mendelssohn was born in 1805 in Germany into a close-knit, musical family. At an early age, she demonstrated great skill at both playing piano and composing her own music. Though her family encouraged her musicality in some ways, her father did not think Fanny should publish her compositions, so sometimes they were published under the name of her brother, Felix. Fanny was married so sometimes you will find her name listed as Fanny Hensel or Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.  

Perhaps because she was such an excellent pianist herself, her compositions often featured the piano. She wrote many lieder, which is a German term for a piece for solo voice and piano. She died at age 41. 


  1. “Das Jahr” means “The Year” in German. Fanny Mendelssohn wrote this set of thirteen short pieces to depict the twelve months of the year, plus a short concluding piece at the end, to make thirteen. Fanny’s husband, a visual artist, made drawings to accompany each “month” in the set of pieces. As you listen, to the month of March below, imagine what picture or painting might go well with it.

  2. Notice how the musicians in this video communicate without a conductor. How do they stay together? How do they balance their parts? Fanny Mendelssohn wrote this piece but it was not published until after she died.

  3. “Nachtwanderer” means “night wanderer” in German. Can you use music vocabulary to describe what parts of the music make this song sound like wandering at night?


  1. Fanny Mendelssohn wrote a lot of music for small ensembles, like duos and trios. Groups of those sizes do not need a conductor, but they do need to communicate well so that they play well together.  Use the What are ENSEMBLE SKILLS? lesson to learn about and practice how to play music with others.  

  2. Fanny Mendelssohn’s piece Das Jahr had connections to visual art. Explore another piece of music connected to art in the Music & Art: Pictures at an Exhibition lesson.  

Related Lesson Plans

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