Suite for Violin, Flute & Piano, Op.59
Mel Bonis (Melanie Helene Bonis 1858-1937) was born in Paris. gifted but long underrated composer. She used the pseudonym Mel Bonis because she felt women composers of her time weren't taken seriously as artists. Her music represents a link between the Romantic and Impressionist movements in France. Her parents discouraged her early interest in music and she taught herself to play piano until age 12, when she was finally given private lessons. A friend introduced her to Cesar Franck, who was so impressed with her abilities he made special arrangements for her to be admitted to the then all-male Paris Conservatory in 1876. She won prizes in harmony and accompaniment and showed great promise in composition, but a romance with a fellow student, Amedee Hettich, caused her parents to withdraw her from the institution in 1881. Two years later she married and raised a family. Then in 1893 she again encountered Hettich, now a famous critic; he urged her to continue composing and helped launch her career in fashionable Parisian salons, where her music made a considerable stir. Saint Saens highly praised her chamber music and could not believe that it had not been composed by a man.
Although her music was much played and praised she never entered the first rank of her contemporaries as she probably would have because she lacked the necessary vanity for self-promotion. It did not help that she was a woman. As a result, by the time of her death, she and her music had fallen into obscurity. She composed over 300 works in most genres. Finally, in the 1960s, historians began to re-examine the contributions of women composers and this set the stage for Bonis's posthumous reputation.
The Suite for Flute, Violin and Piano dates from 1903. It is in three movements. The first, Serenade, is languid and sad. Its lovely melody moves effortlessly like lotus pods floating by lazily on a river. The title of the second movement, Pastorale, best describes the mood which the music evokes. It almost seems a continuation of the first movement. More upbeat, it, too, has a languid quality about it. The finale, Scherzo, is a very different affair---energetic, playful and mischievous it mood is contagious.
This wonderful work has been out of print for many years now and we are pleased to bring it back. It should interest both amateurs and professionals alike. We publish two other works for this same combination which may be of interest to you: the René Boisdeffre Serenade, Op.85 and Josef Küffner's Serenade, Op.4 .