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Ann Mounsey, O the Merry Merry Spring: Biographical Overview

by Katherine Fisfis, Analeigh Flieger, and Emma Wilansky

Ann Mounsey (1811-1891)

Drawn portrait of Ann Mounsey by Joseph Slater

Portrait by Joseph Slater. Public Domain.

Life & Works

Ann Mounsey was born on April 17th, 1811 and died on June 24th, 1891 in London, England. She was highly regarded by her contemporaries in the London music scene as a performer as well as a composer. To earn a living, Mounsey worked as a church organist for most of her life. At 17, she obtained her first church job. Shortly thereafter, she transferred to a new church, St. Vedast’s Church in Foster Lane, where she then worked for nearly fifty years.

Mounsey’s greatest output was for voice. She composed over 100 pieces of solo vocal music in both sacred and secular genres. Her compositions for voice included oratorios, cantatas, odes, and songs. Notably, her husband, William Bartholomew, translated several German vocal works to English, including works by Felix Mendelssohn, and Mounsey then worked with her husband to set those translations. She also set the iconic German lieder text “Erlkönig” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which her husband also translated to English.

In addition to composing, Mounsey was an avid pedagogue. Not only did she teach lessons on organ, piano, and music theory but she also published several books of songs specifically for young singers to perform. The most influential was “The Young Vocalist: A Collection of 12 Songs,” featuring works by Mozart and Mendelssohn among others.