John Speller's Web Pages Augusta Holmès, Prélude

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Augusta Holmès, Prélude: ce que l'on entendit dans la nuit de Noël
Augusta Mary Anne Holmès (1847-1903) was born in Paris, the brilliant and vivacious daughter of an Irishman who worked in the British Embassy. Although not particularly pretty, she was justifiably proud of her enormous breasts, and tended to send the male population of Paris wild. In particular, her teacher, César Franck (1822-1890), and his colleague Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), were madly in love with her. Madame Franck was intensely jealous, and she attempted to suppress the original dedication of the Trois Chorales to Augusta Holmès after her husband's death. Augusta Holmès had a long-term lover in the poet Catulle Mendès (1841-1909), by whom she had five children, but the relationship broke up in 1886. It is unlikely, however, whatever Augusta Holmès' relationship with César Franck may have been, that it was ever consummated. She probably, nonetheless, appreciated the attention from Franck and Saint-Saëns. She learnt from Franck an exquisite skill in modulating between keys, but her style is otherwise in many ways more like that of later French impressionists such as Louis Vierne. Although I am not aware that Augusta Holmès ever wrote anything for the organ, I have long been searching for a piano piece that would translate onto the organ, and I think I have found it in this Prélude: ce que l'on entendit dans la nuit de Noël.

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Augusta Mary Anne Holmès (1847-1903)
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