Rebecka Mendelssohn

Rebecka Mendelssohn Bartholdy - drawing by Wilhelm Hensel, 1823

Rebecka Henriette Lejeune Dirichlet (née Rebecka Mendelssohn; 11 April 1811 – 1 December 1858) was a granddaughter of Moses Mendelssohn and the youngest sister of Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn.

Rebecka was born in Hamburg.[1] In 1816 her parents arranged for her to be baptised at which point she took the names Rebecka Henriette Mendelssohn Bartholdy.[2] She became a part of the notable salon of her parents, Abraham Mendelssohn and his wife Lea, having social contacts with the important musicians, artists and scientists in a highly creative period of German intellectual life. In 1829 she sang a small role in the premiere, given at the Mendelssohn house, of Felix's Singspiel Die Heimkehr aus der Fremde. She later wrote:

My older brother and sister stole my reputation as an artist. In any other family I would have been highly regarded as a musician and perhaps been leader of a group. Next to Felix and Fanny, I could not aspire to any recognition.[3]

In 1832 she married the mathematician Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet, who was introduced to the Mendelssohn family by Alexander von Humboldt.[4] She died in Göttingen.



  1. Todd (2003), 28
  2. Todd (2003), 33
  3. cited in Mercer-Taylor (2000), 66
  4. Todd (2003), 192
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