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Augusta Mary Anne Holmès

Augusta Mary Anne Holmès (b. Paris, [1] France, 18 December 1847 – 28 January 1903) was a French composer of Irish descent. At first she published under the pseudonym Hermann Zenta. In 1871, Holmès became a French citizen and added the accent to her last name.[2]

Holmès herself wrote the lyrics to almost all her songs, oratorios, choral symphonies, and the opera La Montagne Noire.

Holmès, despite showing talent at the piano, was not allowed to study at the Paris Conservatoire, but she studied music outside of any institution. She developed her piano playing under the tutelage of local pianist Mademoiselle Peyronnet, Versaille cathedral organist Henri Lambert, and Hyacinthe Klosé taught her, and she showed her compositions to Franz Liszt. Around 1876, she started studies with César Franck, whom she considered her real master. [1]

Camille Saint-Saëns wrote of Holmès in the journal Harmonie et Mélodie, "Like children, women have no idea of obstacles, and their willpower breaks all barriers. Mademoiselle Holmès is a woman, an extremist."

Holmès never married, but she cohabitated with the poet Catulle Mendès, for whom she bore five children.

For the 1889 celebration of the centennial of the French Revolution, Holmès was commissioned to write the Ode Triomphale for the Exposition Universelle, a work requiring about 1200 musicians. She gained a reputation of being a composer of programme music with political meaning, such as her symphonic poems Irlande and Pologne.

Holmès bequeathed most of her musical manuscripts to the Paris Conservatoire.



Musical works

  • Hero et Leandre (1874) opera [1]
  • Parmi les meules for voice and piano
  • Triumphal Ode for a chorus of 900 and an orchestra of 300
  • Vision de Saint Thérese voice and orchestra [1]
  • Hymne à la paix cantata [1]
  • Au pays bleu
  • Hymne à Apollo choral
  • La Vision de la reine cantata
  • La Montagne noir opera
  • Astarte opera (unpublished)
  • Lancelot du lac opera (unpublished)

Orchestral works:

  • Andromede symphonic poem
  • Irlande symphonic poem
  • La Nuit et l'Amour: Interlude de l'ode symphonique - Ludus pro Patria symphonic poem
  • Lutece symphony
  • Ouverture pour une Comédie symphonic poem
  • Pologne symphonic poem
  • Trois anges sont Venus Ce Soir


  1. ^ a b c d e Arthur Elson (1903) Woman's work in music, The Page Company, Boston, digitized by Google.
  2. ^ Augusta Holmès: A Meteoric Career Rollo Myers The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1967), page 365. "Her surname was Gallicized by the addition of a grave accent on its last syllable"

External links

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