Augusta Mary Anne Holmès (18 December 1847 – 28 January 1903) was a French composer of Irish descent. At first she published under the pseudonym Hermann Zenta. In 1871, Holmès became a French citizen and added the accent to her last name. She herself wrote the lyrics to almost all her songs and oratorios, as well as the libretto of the opera La Montagne Noire.
Holmès was born in Paris. Despite showing talent at the piano, she was not allowed to study at the Paris Conservatoire, but she took lessons privately. She developed her piano playing under the tutelage of local pianist Mademoiselle Peyronnet, Versailles' cathedral organist Henri Lambert, and Hyacinthe Klosé. Also, she showed some of her earlier compositions to Franz Liszt. Around 1876, she became a pupil of César Franck, whom she considered her real master. (She led the group of Franck's students who in 1891 commissioned for Franck's tomb a bronze medallion from Auguste Rodin.)
Camille Saint-Saëns wrote of Holmès in the journal Harmonie et Mélodie, "Like children, women have no idea of obstacles, and their willpower breaks all barriers. Mademoiselle Holmès is a woman, an extremist."
Holmès never married, but she cohabited with the poet Catulle Mendès; the couple had five children.
For the 1889 celebration of the centennial of the French Revolution, Holmès was commissioned to write the Ode Triomphale for the Exposition Universelle, a work requiring about 1200 musicians. She gained a reputation of being a composer of programme music with political meaning, such as her symphonic poems Irlande and Pologne.
Holmès bequeathed most of her musical manuscripts to the Paris Conservatoire.
- Héro et Leandre (1874) opera in one act
- Astarté, opera (unpublished)
- Lancelot du lac, opera in one act (unpublished)
- La Montagne noir, opera in four acts (1895), f.p. Paris Opéra, 8 Feb 1895
- Parmi les meules, for voice and piano
- Triumphal Ode, for a chorus of 900 and an orchestra of 300
- Vision de Saint Thérèse, voice and orchestra
- Hymne à la paix, cantata
- Au pays bleu
- Hymne à Apollo, choral
- La Vision de la reine, cantata
- Andromede, symphonic poem
- Irlande, symphonic poem
- La Nuit et l'amour, symphonic interlude, from the symphonic ode Ludus pro Patria,
- Lutèce, symphony
- Ouverture pour une comédie, symphonic poem
- Heroic Overture, symphonic poem
- Canzona, andante for orchestra
- Pologne, symphonic poem
- Trois anges sont Venus ce soir
- Augusta Holmès: A Meteoric Career Rollo Myers The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1967), page 365. "Her surname was Gallicized by the addition of a grave accent on its last syllable."
- Arthur Elson (1903) Woman's work in music, The Page Company, Boston, digitized by Google.
- Daniele Gutmann, "Rodin et la Musique". Revue Internationale de Musique Française, February, 1982, p. 105.
- Geffen, Gérard. Augusta Holmès, l'outrancière. Paris: P. Belfond, 1987. ISBN 2-7144-2153-9