Category: Henriëtte Bosmans

DECEMBER 6: Henriëtte Bosmans (1895-1952)

The Dutch musician and composer Henriëtte Bosmans was born on this day in 1895. The prestigious Henriëtte Bosmans Prize is given every year to aspiring Dutch composers in her name. 

Henriëtte Bosmans photographed by Jacob Merkelbach in 1917 (x). 

Henriëtte Bosmans was born on December 6, 1895 in Amsterdam. Both of her parents were prominent and wealthy musicians. Her father,  Henri Bosmans, was the principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and her mother, Sara Benedicts, was a piano teacher at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Her father tragically died when she was only 6 months old and her mother never remarried. 

Henriëtte was musically trained by her mother throughout her childhood and was assisting her with piano lessons by the time she was 17. By the 1920s,


had made a career independent of that from her parents and was performing regularly at the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. She also traveled extensively throughout Europe with the likes of iconic musicians such as Monteux, Mengelberg and Ansermet.

During her lifetime, Henriëtte had relationships with both men and women. Between 1920 and 1927, she had a relationship with Frieda Belinfante who was a prominent figure in the Dutch lesbian subculture and a popular cellist and composer. Frieda even premiered Henriëtte’s composition, Second Cello Concerto, for the first time in 1923; by the time Frieda made a legacy for herself as a leader in the Dutch resistance against Nazi rule in World War II, she and Henriëtte had long parted ways. 

Henriëtte would go on to be briefly engaged to a violinist named Francis Koene, but her longest lasting relationship was with a woman named Noémie Pérugia. During the last years of her life, Henriëtte’s work mostly consisted of covertly written song dedicated to Noémie. Henriëtte would eventually pass away on July 2, 1952.