Ostersonate : autograph manuscript

Record ID: 
Hensel, Fanny Mendelssohn, 1805-1847, composer.
Biographical Data: 
German composer and pianist; Felix Mendelssohn's sister.
Ostersonate : autograph manuscript.
Uniform title: 
Sonatas, piano, A major
Curatorial Comments: 

First mentioned in the composer's diary in April 1829, Hensel's Easter Sonata was lost for 150 years. When the manuscript surfaced in 1972, signed "F. Mendelssohn," the work was attributed to Felix Mendelssohn, Hensel's brother. In 2010 Angela Mace Christian confirmed that the handwriting is Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel's, and the work was recorded for the first time in the composer's name in 2012 by Andrea Lam. The manuscript was later acquired by Robert Owen Lehman, who placed it on deposit at the Morgan Library & Museum with the rest of his collection.
The first movement, a Beethoven-inspired sonata-allegro in A major, is followed by a movement in a ternary form, with the outer A sections containing prelude-like material, bookending a fugal B section that showcases chromaticism in the tradition of J. S. Bach. A playful, slightly ominous Scherzo leads to the finale, a pianistic tour de force featuring tempestuous tremolo passages perhaps symbolizing the earthquakes from the Passion story and the moment of Christ's death when the Temple's curtain is torn. The sonata culminates in a luminous chorale fantasy on "Christe, du Lamm Gottes," a sixteenth-century Lutheran hymn that both Bach and Felix Mendelssohn also used in their music, reflecting the liturgical season during which Fanny composed her sonata. It was an extraordinary work for a young composer to create, only a year after Beethoven's death.


Piano sonata in A major.
Parts: 1. Allegro assai moderato; 2. Largo e molto espressivo; 3. Scherzo; 4. Allegro con strepito.
Lost for 150 years and found in a book shop in France in 1970. At that time it was attributed to Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847). In 2010 the manuscript was examined by Angela Mace Christian who verified that it was in Fanny Mendelssohn's handwriting and determined that it had been cut from her book of compositions. Received its premier under her name on September 7, 2012, by Andrea Lam.
Forms a single gathering with a leaf (pages 101-102) inserted. Includes several pasteovers.