Within the vast heading of The History Of Music, I don’t think there is, or will ever be, a shortage of musicians and composers whose work has gone mostly unnoticed, or at best, largely underrated.
Lily Bienvenu is one of those composers. To be fair, she is known for composing a collection of songs, which were made famous by the great French Baritone Camille Maurane. And her work as a musician playing other composers work has gotten her a high degree of respect as a pianist of note. But her work as a composer, certainly one who has a substantial catalog of works to her credit, have gone largely unnoticed.
Daughter of violinist Marcel Bienvenu and pianist Alice Jourdain, Alice (known as Lily) Bienvenu was born in The Hague. She obtained the first piano prize at the Nantes Conservatory (1933), then completed her training until 1947 at the National Superior Conservatory of Paris (piano with Magda Tagliaferro, music theory, harmony with Marcel Samuel-Rousseau, chamber music, composition with Tony Aubin, history of music) and also takes writing lessons with Simone Plé-Caussade.
She began to compose in 1940 and expressed herself in different genres: pieces for piano, chamber music, melodies, symphonic works with or without soloists, choral music with or without orchestra. Some of her works result from commissions from the State or Radio-France, others were composed for the decryption competitions of the Paris Conservatory or, later, for her students at the La Rochelle Conservatory, where she taught from the 1970s.
Here is a recording, made in the studios of the ORTF in Paris, circa 1951 of Lily Bienvenu performing one of her own works as part of a recital – A Sonata for Violin and Piano, featuring Gerard Jarry, violin with Lily Bienvenu at the Piano. The recording, which comes from the Transcription Service of French Radio doesn’t offer exact dates – but it was guessed to be 1951.
In any event, a rare recording by a highly regarded artist, who was unfortunately a somewhat ignored composer.