Henri Bertini

Double bass
Piano four hands
String ensemble
by popularity


12 Little Pieces and Preludes12 Short Pieces2 Nocturnes, Op.10224 Etudes, Op.2924 Etudes, Op.3225 Etudes élémentaires, Op.13725 Etudes faciles et progressives, Op.10025 Études musicales, Op.13525 Etudes préparatoires, Op.17525 Études primaires, Op.16625 Etudes très faciles, Op.14925 Etudes, Op.13425 Etudes, Op.663 Duos3 Nocturnes, Op.873 Solos de concours, Op.16748 Études, Opp.29, 3250 Études mélodiques, Op.14250 Préludes, Op.141


Episode d'un bal, Op.98Etudes musicales, Op.97


Fantaisie concertante on 'Der Freischütz'Fantaisie-valse, Op.154


Grand Rondo de Concert, Op.105Grande Fantaisie dramatique, Op.118Grande Fantaisie Etude, Op.46Grande Fantaisie sur un Thème de Pacini, Op.113Grande Polonaise, Op.93Grandes études artistiques, Op.122


La conversationLa Mère du Chasseur, Op.119Le double dièze, Op.143Le Repos, Op.101Les Saisons


Ma Normandie, Op.88Méthode complète et progressive de piano


Piano Sextet No.1, Op.79Piano Sextet No.2, Op.85Piano Sextet No.3, Op.90Piano Sextet No.4, Op.114Piano Sextet No.5, Op.124Piano Trio, Op.43


Rondeau brillant, Op.37Rudiment du pianiste, Op.84


Selected StudiesSérénade, Op.76Solo de concours No.2, Op.121Solo pour le Piano, Op.109


Thèmes variés, Op.64


Variations de Concert, Op.69Variations sur le Choeur favori, Op.106Violin Sonata No.1, Op.152Violin Sonata No.2, Op.153Violin Sonata No.3, Op.156
Henri Jérôme Bertini (28 October 1798 – 30 September 1876) was a French classical composer and pianist. He was born into a family of musicians and attracted the attention of François-Joseph Fétis when he toured Europe as a child prodigy. As an adult he was admired both as a soloist and as a chamber musician; it was said that he played with Johann Nepomuk Hummel's simplicity and elegance without sacrificing the brilliance of the instrument. As a composer he had an original style which was rich in musical ideas, attractive melodies, and effortless harmonies. In 1848 he retired from the musical scene and settled in the Dauphiné in south-east France.
Henri Jérôme Bertini was born in London on 28 October 1798 but his family returned to Paris six months later. He received his early musical education from his father and his brother, a pupil of Muzio Clementi. He was considered a child prodigy and at the age of 12 his father took him on a tour of England, Holland, Flanders, and Germany where he was enthusiastically received. After studies in composition in England and Scotland he was appointed professor of music in Brussels but returned to Paris in 1821. It is known that Bertini gave a concert with Franz Liszt in the Salons Pape on 20 April 1828. The program included a transcription by Bertini of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major for eight hands (the other pianists were Sowinsky and Schunke.) He was also admired as a chamber music performer, giving concerts with his friends Antoine Fontaine (violin) and Auguste Franchomme (cello). He remained active in and around Paris until around 1848 when he retired from the musical scene. In 1859 he moved to Meylan (near Grenoble) where he died on 30 September 1876.
Bertini concertized widely but was not as celebrated a virtuoso as either Friedrich Kalkbrenner or Henri Herz. One of his contemporaries described his playing as having Clementi's evenness and clarity in rapid passages as well as the quality of sound, the manner of phrasing, and the ability to make the instrument sing characteristic of the school of Hummel and Moschelès. Thomas Tapper wrote:
He was in his time a shining example of the most admirable qualities of an artist. Living in an age of garish virtuosity, and hailed as a brilliant executant himself, he maintained nevertheless the most rigorous standards of musicianship in his playing, in his compositions, and in the music which he appeared before the public to interpret. This is the more remarkable when one considers that his manhood was reached during the luxuriant period of French romanticism and that the extravagances of the literary outburst were reflected in the musical movements of the time. Virtuosity was subjected to sore temptations and many succumbed. Bertini stood for the sounder qualities of the artist and gradually acquired an extended and remunerative prestige. His life was singularly devoid of incident and official distinction, but the legacy of pedagogic works which he has left to us and his honorable activity give it every right to be called a success.
Bertini was celebrated as a teacher. Antoine Marmontel, who devoted the second chapter of his work on celebrated pianists to Bertini, wrote
He was unsurpassed as a teacher, giving his lessons with scrupulous care and the keenest interest in his pupils' progress. After he had given up teaching, a number of his pupils continued with me, and I recognized the soundness of the principles drawn from his instruction.
It is above all in the special class of studies and caprices, that Bertini's immense popularity is founded. It is here that he occupied a unique position and opened the path over which the next generation of composers was to rush after him. In each of his numerous collections of studies, embracing every degree of difficulty, he has insistently given to every piece, easy or difficult, brief or extended, a character of salient melody. The technical problem to be overcome presents itself as a song; even where the study is devoted to the problem of velocity the general contour falls into a melodic curve, and this is the first and transcendent cause of the universal success of these pieces, which are, furthermore, natural in respect to rhythm and carefully thought out harmonically.
Robert Schumann, in a review of one of Bertini's piano trios in the Gesammelte Schriften, comments that Bertini writes easily flowing harmony but that the movements are too long. He continues: "With the best will in the world, we find it difficult to be angry with Bertini, yet he drives us to distraction with his perfumed Parisian phrases; all his music is as smooth as silk and satin." German sentimentality has never appreciated French elegance.
Bertini is best remembered today for his piano method Le Rudiment du pianiste, and his 20 books of approximately 500 studies.
The Nonetto opus 107 for flute, oboe, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, viola, cello, double bass, and piano, composed in 1835, is one of Bertini's major works. Berlioz wrote a review in Maurice Schlesinger's widely distributed and very influential La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris of a performance at a music evening given by the Tilmant brothers on 6 May 1838:
That same evening a Nonetto by Bertini for piano, viola, cello, oboe, flute, horn, bassoon, trumpet and bass, was performed. It is a great and beautiful composition in which each instrument contributes to the whole according to its importance and idiomatic qualities, without trying to stand out individually. The piano itself is only entrusted those parts which contribute to the musical sense of the moment, and makes no effort toward brilliance for brilliance's sake. Beethoven himself followed this philosophy in his immortal trios. Amongst other movements, this Nonetto includes an adagio entitled La Melancolie which provides more than its title might indicate; it is so grandiose, at times so majestically sombre, that the sentiment of melancholy one expects is overshadowed by ideas of a much higher and rare order. In no way do I mean to quibble with the title, God forbid; all I wish to say is that this admirable work is not only melancholic, but also much more. In the Scherzo and Finale one finds details of graceful melancholy as well as vivacious charm, but the Adagio rises up in the centre of the work like the Mont Blanc among its neighbouring peaks; it dominates all; it is a sublime and profound meditation which provides an almost painful impression that cannot be forgotten.
Berlioz later made further comments about this evening in the July 6 edition of Le Journal des débats:
The Nonetto by Bertini... is the work of a great musician with a lively and ardent imagination, who will grow stronger and more powerful if he refrains from his attempts to encourage applause as he occasionally sought to do in the first movement. His peroration was all too obvious and he is seen to be too preoccupied with achieving success and producing effects. This detracts from the free flowing of his thoughts. This fault does not exist in the other parts of the Nonetto. In composing these the author, fully involved in his subject, undoubtedly forgot that he was actually writing for his public, and concerned himself only with the task at hand and the ultimate unity of the work. Which of these last three movements is our favourite? The Adagio, above all, is without question a noble and magnificent inspiration whose sombre poetry reminds us of the sublime greatness of Beethoven's Sonatas. This is admirable.
The Nonetto was reduced to a quintet (flute or violin, violin, viola, cello and piano) by Charles Schwencke, a pianist and composer from Hamburg who was living in Paris. This appears to have been done for amateur musicians: the flute part, which can be replaced by a violin, contains frequent octave transpositions to make it easier to play.
Bertini wrote approximately 500 études, ranging from easy studies for young students whose hands cannot span an octave to concert études. They were published in sets of 25 studies each. Roughly in order of difficulty they are:
Vocal Music
Le jaloux dupé. Opéra comique en 1 acte
Miscellaneous piano pieces
Duos for piano and violin by Bertini and Antoine Fontaine
Duo for piano and violin by Bertini and Auguste Franchomme
Duo for piano and flute by Bertini and Joseph Guillou