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Augusta Holmès

Augusta Holmès

Country of origin: France
Birthday: December 18, 1847
Date of death: January 28, 1903

About Augusta Holmès

Holmès was born in Paris. Despite showing talent at the piano, she was not allowed to study at the Paris Conservatoire, but took lessons privately. She developed her piano playing under the tutelage of local pianist Mademoiselle Peyronnet, Versailles' cathedral organist Henri Lambert, and Hyacinthe Klosé. Also, she showed some of her earlier compositions to Franz Liszt. Around 1876, she became a pupil of César Franck, whom she considered her real master.[2] (She led the group of Franck's students who in 1891 commissioned for Franck's tomb a bronze medallion from Auguste Rodin.[3]) 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." Like other female composers from the nineteenth century, Holmès published some of her earlier works under a male pseudonym ("Hermann Zenta"). 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 1,200 musicians. She gained a reputation of being a composer of programme music with political meaning, such as her symphonic poems Irlande and Pologne.