Mendelssohn – Siblings. A recital of Piano Solos and Songs by Helen Cawthorne & John Barker. Sunday 3rd November at 3.00pm

This recital features generous groups of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s hugely attractive and compelling piano works interspersed with selections from among the better known and well-loved songs of her brother, Felix.

Fanny (b1805), Felix (b1809) and their brother and sister were born into the very prosperous and distinguished Mendelssohn family. Their grandfather, Moses, was a leading European intellectual as well as a highly successful businessman. Their father, Abraham, and his brothers founded an important international banking house. The children enjoyed a comfortable, privileged upbringing but it was demanding — roused at 5.30am for days rich with lessons from a remarkable assembly of private tutors, as well as plentiful physical exercise, including swimming, skating and hiking. Their home in Leipziger Strasse was an important centre of Berlin’s artistic and intellectual life, attracting the leading lights of the age and with an honoured place for musicians.

Both Fanny and Felix exhibited prodigious musical talent, with Fanny’s virtuosity as a pianist compared favourably to that of Felix, and both received every encouragement in their studies. While Abraham entertained some doubts over Felix pursuing a professional career he was quite quickly won over by endorsements of his son’s talents from figures such as Goethe and Moscheles, among many others. For Fanny, it was particularly her high social status that rendered a musical career unseemly and unacceptable to the family, rather than simple gender stereotyping, though her artist husband William Hensel was later notably supportive of her talents as both pianist and composer.

For him [Felix] music may become a profession. For you it has to remain a decoration. It can and should never be the be-all and end-all of your life. (extract from a letter of Abraham Mendelssohn to Fanny Mendelssohn quoted in ‘Gentle Genius — The Story of Felix Mendelssohn’ by George R. Marek)

Helen Cawthorne and John Barker gave a very successful recital at Elmslie House in June, having established a new home in Malvern within the past year. Details of their musical careers may be found at

Refreshments will be available in the interval – the recital will end at approximately 4.45pm.

Tickets are £12 and available through Malvern TIC, through Eventbrite HERE

or tickets will be available on the door at Elmslie on the day.

Doors will open at 2.30pm.

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