MEL BONIS (1858–1937): PIANO WORKS
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In a world dominated by men, music, and art in general, are thankfully seeing encouraging signs that point to the community finally not only realizing the disparity, but actively working towards finding a solution that would at least mitigate the problem. It is important to realize that women have always occupied an important place amongst composers, and it was mostly societal limitations that prevented them from receiving rightful praise. Mélanie Hélène Bonis was one of the rare exceptions. Like many of her contemporaries, she had to resort to the use of synonyms, and changing her name to the gender-neutral version Mel Bonis made it possible for her works to be acknowledged by audiences, and publishers. Yet, her talent was undisputedly the driving force behind her success. Since a very young age, she has garnered the support of some of the most prominent members of the music community, including César Franck, whose role was instrumental in getting her admitted to the famed Paris Conservatoire. Even though she shared classrooms with Debussy and Pierné, she managed to set herself apart and excel, and her achievements eventually led to her role as of Secretary of the Société des compositeurs de musique (Music Composers Society). However, despite her fame, position, and rich opus, which comprises about 300 vocal and instrumental works covering a variety of genres, her name remains largely confined to music archives. The goal of this research is to at least try to assuage this issue by presenting, in the form of studio recordings, about three quarters of her works for solo piano, which are representative of her mature creative period—between 1881 and 1932—and document the evolution of her compositional technique and style in great detail. To my knowledge, while most of her piano works have been recorded, this project represents the first collection by a single performer, and the only one entirely based on the recent reissue of her collective piano works by the German publisher Furore Verlag, which introduces important revisions, achieved through scholarly research.