Fanny Mendelssohn's 'Divan (The 2022 English Goethe Society Prawer Lecture)

The lecture, illustrated with musical examples, explores 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 centres around the six settings composed in 1825. Mendelssohn, Arora argues, takes an idiosyncratic approach to musical narrative, dividing the six settings into two groups of three. Arora then turns 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?
Musical examples feature the voice of Henrike Laehnemann (Oxford) with Anhad Arora on piano. 

Author: Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Speaker(s): Anhad Arora (Oxford); Henrike Laehnemann (Oxford/voice); Charlotte Lee (Cambridge/chair); T.J. Reed (President, EGS/welcome)

Organisations: Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies

Event date: Thursday, 3 February 2022 - 6:00pm