Today, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast the UK premiere of a major Fanny Mendelssohn piano work previously thought to have been written by her brother, Felix.
The Easter Sonata will be broadcast live from a lunchtime concert at the Royal College of Music to mark International Women’s Day.
American Mendelssohn scholar Dr Angela Mace Christian made the discovery that the work was Fanny’s after gaining access to the original manuscript in 2010. By comparing the handwriting, analysing notes and alterations, and matching the page numbers to a missing section in an album of Fanny’s music, she was able to prove that the sonata was Fanny’s own work.
‘This is a major work,’ says Mace Christian, ‘and one of huge ambition for someone aged only 23. Its rediscovery and proper attribution show Fanny’s stature as a composer in a completely new light.’
The performance will also be filmed as part of a documentary by Sheila Hayman, a direct descendent of Fanny. ‘The story of my ancestor Fanny Mendelssohn becomes more fascinating the more you explore it,’ says Hayman. ‘It’s wonderful that the discovery of this lost work and its proper attribution to Fanny [has] given us a way to help bring Fanny back to public attention.’
The original manuscript has since been resold and has disappeared into a private collection.
The Easter Sonata will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 at 1pm on 8 March, then available on iPlayer for 30 days.