Fanny Mendelssohn's 'Divan'

Fanny Mendelssohn's 'Divan'
3 February 2022, 6.00pm - 7.30pm

English Goethe Society Prawer Lecture

Speaker: Anhad Arora (Merton College, Oxford)

The lecture, illustrated with musical examples, will explore Fanny Mendelssohn’s settings of poems from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s West-östlicher Divan (publ. 1819), virtually reuniting manuscripts at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The first half of the lecture will centre around the six settings composed in 1825. Mendelssohn, Arora will argue, takes an idiosyncratic approach to musical narrative, dividing the six settings into two groups of three. Arora will then turn to 1836, to her setting of ‘Ach, um deine feuchten Schwingen’. It appears in an 1844 ‘Stammbuch’, compiled by Felix, with an illustration of Suleika by Wilhelm Hensel. The book also features an illustration for her published setting of ‘An des lust’gen Brunnens Rand’. What did Mendelssohn see and hear in the Divan? And what can her multi-media settings tell us about how the Orient and the Divan were clothed in song?

This lecture will now be held online via Zoom. Attendance free; advance online booking required. Please note that the Lecture will commence at 18:00 (London time/GMT) and will be preceded by the English Goethe Society's Annual General Meeting. 

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Jane Lewin
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