French composer and harpist Henriette Renié was born in Paris on 18 September 1875. She began early: piano lessons before she was five, harp lessons from Alphonse Hasselmans at the age of eight, and her own harp pupils when she was nine. At ten she won second prize in harp performance at the Paris Conservatoire, and at eleven, first prize. By the time she graduated, age twelve, she had students all over Paris. At the Conservatoire, Théodore Dubois, Jules Massenet and Ambroise Thomas all encouraged her to compose.
She had a difficult career because she was a woman with religious beliefs at a time when women were supposed to stay at home, and France was trying to separate church and state. The French government prevented her appointment as harp teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. Nevertheless, she was very influential, starting her own international competition, the Concours Renié, creating her own harp method in two volumes during World War II, and, when peace came, many students came to her and promoted her method abroad. Her students included Marcel Grandjany and Harpo Marx. Many of her compositions, published with major French publishers, are important works in the harp repertoire.
Henriette Renié died in Paris on 1 March 1956.
A selection of M&V articles about Henriette Renié
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