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Augusta Holmès: Allegro feroce

The BBC Concert Orchestra perform Holmès 1876 work live on Radio 3 in Concert on International Women's Day 2018.

The BBC Concert Orchestra perform Holmès 1876 work live on Radio 3 in Concert on International Women's Day 2018.

Augusta Holmès was a French composer of Irish descent. Although deeply musical, Holmès was discouraged by her parents and had to wait until their deaths to embark on her composing career.

A courageous, principled character who didn't play by the book, Holmès had a large circle of artistic friends and admirers, including Liszt, Rossini, Saint-Saëns and César Franck (with whom she studied). She also had five children with the poet Catulle Mendés.

Dr Anastasia Belina-Johnson, an academic who has been researching Holmès' life and work on behalf of the BBC/AHRC's Forgotten Women Composers project, notes that Augusta "became respected as a composer of music that was free of dainties and sentimentalities – in fact, her music was often characterised as ‘masculine’ and ‘virile’!"

In 1895, Holmès was the first woman to have an opera premiered in Paris. She composed large-scale orchestral and choral works, writing a piece for 1,200 performers for the centenary of the French Revolution. Yet while the first recordings of Holmès’s music were made in 1994, much of her catalogue still remains undiscovered.

Release date:

Duration:

8 minutes

Credits

Role Contributor
Orchestra BBC Concert Orchestra
Conductor Jane Glover
Composer Augusta Holmes