Mel Bonis


Mel Bonis is the pseudonym of Mélanie Bonis, the wife of Albert Domange. Although she came from an entirely non-musical family, she was a brilliant student at the Paris conservatoire under the aegis of César Franck, with notable fellow-students like Claude Debussy and Gabriel Pierré. Compelled by her father to abandon her studies in order to marry a rich industrialist old enough to be her father, she took charge of a large family and a succession of sizeable houses. She suffered from the interior struggle between her natural feelings and her social constraints. She had profound religious convictions. It was her musical creativity which transformed her life, enabling her to express her great sensitivity and the intensity of her emotions. Despite her family's total lack of understanding of her work, she managed to compose an impressive catalogue of some three hundred items for all kinds of vocal and instrumental groups. The music of Mel Bonis is both original and yet of her time. Her work is very moving, springing from an unquenchable and inexhaustible inspiration, and it is both well-constructed and confident.
The chamber music is the jewel of her compositions, consisting of some twenty items for various instruments, mostly with piano accompaniment. Among them are ten substantial works of great interest - sonatas, trios, quartets and septets - which are comparable to the work of the best composers of her time.