Csm Henriette Bosmans De14a007d1

Elizaveta Agrafenina

The Legacy of Henriëtte Bosmans


In 2021/2022 Nieuw Geneco and Dutch Composers NOW pay tribute to Henriëtte Bosmans. She was a driving force behind Geneco, the Dutch professional association for composers. With the project Bosmans and Beyond we will stimulate musicians and concert organisers to programme her work. The Russian-Norwegian soprano Elizaveta Agrafenina is one of the team members that run the project. She compiled a playlist.

“Without music, life is unnecessary”
– Henriëtte Bosmans

Henriëtte Bosmans: Concertino for piano and orchestra

Why is Bosmans’s music rarely played? Women’s rights and equality are less of an issue in our time than it used it be. We tend to forget it. When we don’t research the past, we ignore that most women composers didn’t have a chance to have their works performed and for that reason are now forgotten. An injustice that we should rectify. We need more musicians and concert organizers who dare to program music outside the musical canon. Bosmans was a great composer, her music is original and exciting to perform. This playlist is a call to action to program her music in the Bosmans years 2021/2022!

Edvard Grieg: Sonata for cello and piano

Amsterdam, 1884 – Edvard Grieg, a close friend of the composer Julius Röntgen, visits the Netherlands for performances of his works. Henri Bosmans, the principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, plays together with Grieg, his newly composed sonata for cello and piano. At the concert, Sarah Benedicts, a young and promising pianist, meets Henri Bosmans. They start giving recitals, especially with Grieg’s sonata which brought them together, as a couple as well. A decade later, their daugther Henriëtte Bosmans is born and destined to be a composer herself.

3. Henriëtte Bosmans: Sonata for cello and piano

In 1912 Henriëtte Bosmans gains a piano teaching certificate cum laude in Utrecht. Later on she appears with leading European conductors as a concert pianist. Bosmans begins studying music theory and composition with Jan Willem Kersbergen and Willem Pijper. She publishes her first work in 1917, when she is still 23 years old. After the premiere of her cello sonata at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum in 1919, she becomes an official member of the composer’s world in the Netherlands. For me, this work will always relate to the fight for women’s right to vote and the women’s suffrage movement: the first step to women’s equality in all segments of society in 1919.

Rita Hijmans: A selection of her works

Rita Hijmans is an exciting Dutch composer who writes beautiful music for ensembles and orchestras. The Concertzender recently broadcasted two programs about Hijmans, that you can listen to online. My favourite composition is her viola quartet (2005/2006), with its melancholic melodies, the ongoing pulse, and the quotation from Piazzolla: a beautiful yet solemn piece of music. This melancholic connection can also be felt in the second movement of Bosmans’ String Quartet, the next piece.

Henriëtte Bosmans: String Quartet

The only string quartet Bosmans wrote, here beautifully played by the new and exciting Belinfante Quartet. The quartet shares the name with the famous Dutch cellist and conductor, Frieda Belinfante. Bosmans and Belinfante lived together for many years. In the summer of 1927 they rented a summer house with a piano, where the string quartet was written.

Henriëtte Bosmans: Lead, kindly light for voice and piano

Bosmans wrote many songs, but for me Lead, kindly light one stands out. The song was written just after the Second World War, after a long period in which Bosmans was unable to work due to the nazification of the Netherlands. The song was dedicated to Jo Vincent, who organised “Verboden avonden” for artists who were not allowed to work. It was prohibited to have more than twenty people at home. The police rallied one of the concert evenings. Henriëtte Bosman managed to escape through a backyard, while other guests were heavily fined.

Renske Vrolijk: Ghost Wall

Renske Vrolijk is without doubt one of the most interesting composers in the Netherlands. Her most recent piece Uncut, will be premiered in May 2022. I have heard already some parts. The music is beautiful, the subject of the piece powerful and overwhelming.

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