Henriëtte Hilda Bosmans was born in Amsterdam on December 6, 1895. Her father, the cellist Henri Bosmans, died when she was barely 8 months old. Henriëtte Bosmans died in the Prinsengracht Hospital in Amsterdam on July 2, 1952.
Henriëtte was educated by her mother, the pianist and teacher Sarah Benedicts. In 1913, Bosmans was awarded the piano diploma cum laude by the Society for the Advancement of Music in Utrecht. She then studied music theory with J.W. Kersbergen. In 1920, Henriëtte Bosmans took lessons in orchestration with Cornelis Dopper.
In November 1915, Henriëtte Bosmans maked her debut as a concert pianist with the Utrecht Municipal Orchestra, conducted by Wouter Hutschenruyter, performing Mozart’s ‘Piano Concerto’ KV 450 (1784). She performed in the major concert halls in the Netherlands with such internationally renowned conductors as Pierre Monteux, Willem Mengelberg, Eduard van Beinum, Sir Adrian Boult and George Szell.
In 1922, she began teaching the piano at the Toonkunst Music School in Amsterdam.
On March 12, 1952, she performs for the last time with orchestra, and on April 30 gives her last recital with Noémie Perugia. After the recital, she collapses and a month later she dies in the hospital.
Henriëtte Bosmans is considered one of the most important Dutch composers of the first half of the 20th century. As a pianist and composer, she was affiliated with various chamber music ensembles in Amsterdam, with among others the violinists Louis Zimmerman and Francis Koene and the cellist Marix Loevensohn.
Her first compositions, including her first orchestral piece ‘Poème‘ (1923), for cello and orchestra, are written in a German-Romantic style.
World War II puts her career on hold. Henriëtte Bosmans refuses to become a member of the Nazi’s Chamber of Culture and can perform only secretly. During the war, she develops a friendship with the reciter Charlotte Köhler. After a lengthy period in which Bosmans regularly performs but does not compose, because of the premature death of Francis Koene in 1935 and the war, she writes the ‘Doodenmarsch‘ [Death March, 1945], on text by Clara Eggink. Marius Flothuis regards this as one of her best works.
At the repeated request of Benjamin Britten, Henriëtte Bosmans sets Olive Schreiner’s poem ‘Dreams‘ to music and dedicates it to Peter Pears, Britten’s partner. That same year (1948), she also meets the singer Noémie Perugia. In the last years of her life, while she is tormented by illness, comes a new creative period. The songs she writes, and performs with her friend Perugia, are among the best of that period.
Bosmans entered her ‘Concertstuk‘ for flute and chamber orchestra (1929) in a Concertgebouw Orchestra competition and was awarded second prize. Also, she was made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau in 1951.
The Henriëtte Bosmansprijs is created in 1994. It is an encouragement prize for new compositions which is awarded during the Netherlands Music Days by GeNeCo, consisting of €2500 (US$3500) and a performance. Since 2003, the prize is presented after a composition competition.