A Book Is Closed
JENNY had scarcely arrived back in Stockholm after her triumphal tour of England and Scotland, when she suffered the worst blow of her life. On November 4, 1847, Mendelssohn died. He had left England for Frankfurt the previous May 9, after seeing Jenny's fabulous launching in London. Before he had had a chance to recover from the strain of producing his Elijah in two English cities, and worrying over Jenny besides, he was told suddenly and brusquely of the death of his sister Fanny, of whom he was extremely fond. He fell to the ground in a faint, and never fully recovered. In June, he and Cecile went to Interlaken, Switzerland, so that he might have a complete rest. He took Die Lorelie and other unfinished work with him, but composed no music that summer. After their return to Leipzig in September he remained in seclusion, and suffered a stroke on November 3, dying the next day. He was only thirty-eight years old.
Jenny made no attempt to hide her grief. She dreaded opening letters from friends in Germany, lest they contain some reference to Mendelssohn. She wrote Frau Birch-Pfeiffer that "as soon as I am obliged to hear or read anything about him, I get almost incapable of carrying out the great duty which I have taken on my shoulders . . . I do not belong to this life, my heart seems ready to burst from my breast." She told Hans Christian Andersen that her very soul had been altered by Mendelssohn's death. She could not bear to sing his songs, and dropped them from her concert programs.