Henri Betti

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Henri Betti
Henri Betti.tif
Henri Betti in the 1940s.
Born Ange Eugène Betti
(1917-07-24)July 24, 1917
Nice, France
Died July 7, 2005(2005-07-07) (aged 87)
Courbevoie, France
Cause of death Natural causes
Burial place Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery
Residence Levallois-Perret
Nationality French
Ethnicity French people
Education Conservatoire de Paris
Occupation Composer
Years active 1940-1987
Notable work C'est si bon (1947)
What Can I Do? (1947)
The Windmill Song (1948)
Style Chanson
Film score
Spouse(s) Françoise Engels (m. 1949; his death 2005)
Children 3

Henri Betti, born Ange Betti (24 July 1917 – 7 July 2005), was a French composer and a pianist.[1]

Pianist and composer of Maurice Chevalier from 1940 to 1945, Henri Betti is best known for composing the music of the songs C'est si bon (lyrics by André Hornez), What Can I Do? (lyrics by Édith Piaf) and The Windmill Song (lyrics by Jacques Plante).


Henri Betti was born at 1 rue Barillerie in the district of Vieux-Nice in a modest family : his father was a house painter and his mother was a fishmonger. His paternal family originates from the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy : his grandfather was born in Parma and he immigrated to Nice with his wife and children in the late 1890s.

In 1935, he entered at the Conservatoire de Paris which is then directed by Henri Rabaud where he studied music in the same class as Paul Bonneau, Henri Dutilleux and Louiguy. He is the student of Lazare Lévy for piano class and Raymond Pech for harmony class. He won a prize of harmony in 1937.

He then headed for a classical pianist, but in 1940, when he has been discharged from military service of Fortified Sector of the Dauphiné in Briançon, he crosses the Corsican composer Roger Lucchesi on the Promenade des Anglais, who told him that he composed a song for Maurice Chevalier and asked him to accompany him to the piano when he the present him in his property La Louque in Cannes. Maurice Chevalier refuse the song but to ask Henri Betti be his regular accompanist. During the singing tours, he will make him play the Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 by Frédéric Chopin between songs. Anxious to renew his repertoire, he also asked him to compose songs. Henri Betti then wrote music forty songs with the lyricist Maurice Vandair until 1945 that Notre Espoir and La Chanson du maçon in 1941 or La Fête à Neu-Neu in 1943. Of the fifteen securities singing tour of Maurice Chevalier in 1945, Henri Betti sign fourteen. In 1945, he conducted an orchestra to accompany Maurice Chevalier singing four songs (C'est la fête au pays, Chanson Populaire, Le p'tit père La Taupe and Mandarinade) in two 78tours.

He joined the SACEM in 1941 as composer and was appointed Sociétaire définitif in 1949.

After World War II, he knows great success with Le Régiment des mandolines in 1946 for Lily Fayol, Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai ? in 1947, Maître Pierre and Rien dans les mains, rien dans les poches in 1948 for Yves Montand and especially C'est si bon in 1947 for Jean Marco with Jacques Hélian and his Orchestra. Published by Paul Beuscher, it is sung for the first time before an audience by Suzy Delair at the Nice Jazz Festival February 25, 1948 and recorded by Yves Montand before becoming a standard international jazz with Louis Armstrong, who recorded for the first time in New York in 1950 in the English version of Jerry Seelen.

From 1949 to 1984, his music production is abundant : revues for Le Lido, the Moulin Rouge, the Folies Bergère, the Olympia or the Tropicana Las Vegas, and many operettas and musical performances.

He has also composed for the cinema in the 1950s and television in the 1960s. His most famous soundtrack is that of Honoré de Marseille which will nearly 4 million admissions in France in 1957. In this movie, Fernandel sings three songs composed by Henri Betti and the words by Jean Manse. Henri Betti and Jean Manse had written a fourth song for the movie, C'est Noël, sung by Fernandel in a scene that was edited out. The song was later sung by Tino Rossi and Georges Guétary. In 1953, he played the role of the composer and accompanist of the company of Jean Nohain in Soyez les bienvenus by Pierre-Louis which he also composed the music for the film.

In the early 1950s, he made her singing on stage first as vedette américaine featuring at the ABC in 1951 and the Theatre des Deux Anes, in parisian cabarets as Le Bosphore and Chez Tonton, and in summer outdoors in Nice, Cannes, Juan-les-Pins shows. And then as a full-featured except to Bobino and Gaumont-Palace. His talent manager was Johnny Stark.

During his career, Henri Betti worked with André Berthomieu, Paul Bonneau, Bourvil, Jean Boyer, Maurice Chevalier, Bruno Coquatrix, Jean Cosmos, Pierre Cour, Philippe-Gérard, André Hornez, Jean Le Seyeux, Francis Lopez, Jean Manse, Jacques Mareuil, Jean Nohain, Édith Piaf, Jacques Pills, Jacques Plante, Laurent Rossi, André Salvet, Pascal Sevran, Robert Thomas, Jean Valmy, Maurice Vandair, Henri Varna, Serge Veber, Raymond Vincy and Albert Willemetz.

In 1951, he participated with Albert Willemetz to the foundation of the Comité du Cœur, relief fund for needy artists under the auspices of the SACEM, which will be Vice-President.

In 1958, he collaborated with Jean-Pierre Landreau to compose all the music revues of Lido for the company Lido-Mélodies whose two founding members are Jean Gruyer and Pierre Delvincourt.

In 1960, he wrote the music for the song Les Étangs de Sologne with the lyrics by Paul Vialar which was sung the same year by Jean Philippe in the TV show Toute la Chanson.

In 1971, he participated with Maurice Lehmann to the foundation of the ANAO (Association Nationale des Amis de l’Opérette) which will be Vice-President.

He was member of Conseil d'administration of the SACD from 1961 to 1975 and of the SACEM in 1982, 1983, from 1985 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1992.

In 1988, he was the guest of La chance aux chansons presented by Pascal Sevran that pays tribute to Maurice Chevalier for the centenary of his birth.

In 1993, he published his autobiography, C'est si bon !, published by La Pensée Universelle.

In 2003, he entered the nursing home Ger'Home in Courbevoie where he died two years later of natural causes.

His funeral held at the Eglise Saint-Pierre de Neuilly-sur-Seine, he is then cremated at the crematorium of Fort Mont-Valérien and buried in the Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery (Division 11, Parcelle Paysagée B).

In 2006, his son François Betti wrote the musical engraving and the comments from the songbook Une Vie en Chansons which contains 12 songs composed by Henri Betti. The songbook is published by Paul Beuscher.

Personal life[edit]

Henri Betti married July 30, 1949 in Bois-Colombes with the tap dancer Françoise Engels. He had met her during performances of the operetta Baratin the same year. His best man were Bruno Coquatrix and André Hornez. The couple had three children.

André Hornez was the godfather and Paulette Coquatrix was the godmother of his first child.

Henri Betti was the brother of the opera singer Freda Betti and the great granduncle of the footballer Alexy Bosetti.

Henri Betti has no family relationship with Priscilla Betti.


Henri Betti is made Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 1960 and received the Prix Maurice-Yvain, awarded by the SACD, in 1980 and the Médaille d'or by the SACEM in 1994.



  • 1941 :
    • Notre espoir ; Le Régiment des jambes Louis XV ; À Barcelone ; Toi...toi...toi... ; Bonne nuit chérie ; Je n’ai besoin que d’un cœur ; Amuse-toi ; On veut tant s’aimer and Arc-en-ciel, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier ;
    • La Chanson du maçon, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Maurice Vandair.
  • 1942 :
    • La Polka des barbus ; Ali Ben Baba ; Loulou ; C'était un chanteur de charme and Chipée pour un boxeur, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier ;
    • C’est comme ça, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Raymond Vincy ;
    • Pour toi Paris, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Henri Varna ;
    • Dictionnaire, lyrics by Jacques Pills.
  • 1943 :
    • La Fête à Neu-Neu, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Maurice Vandair ;
    • Ma Nénette ; Merci mon amour and Môme de môme, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier.
  • 1944 :
    • La Leçon de piano and Incrédulité, lyrics by Maurice Vandair.
  • 1945 :
    • Mandarinade and Le p’tit Père La Taupe, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier ;
    • Chanson populaire ; Bonsoir Messieurs Dames ! ; Monotonie and Les Ronronnons, lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Maurice Vandair ;
    • Sérénade au nuage, lyrics by Maurice Vandair.
  • 1946 :
    • Le Régiment des mandolines ; Son amour ; Le Bandonéon ; Farandole en provence ; Si tu voulais ; Octave ; Une aiguille dans un tas de foin ; La Valse du Bonheur and Le Bonheur du Monde, lyrics by Maurice Vandair ;
      Le Régiment des mandolines, Son amour, Farandole en provence, Le Bandonéon, Si tu voulais, Octave and Une aiguille dans un tas de foin were written for the operetta Mamelle Printemps.
  • 1947 :
  • 1948 :
    • Rien dans les mains, rien dans les poches and Entre ses bras, lyrics by André Hornez ;
    • Je cherche une étoile, lyrics by René Rouzaud.
  • 1949 :
    • Maître Pierre, lyrics by Jacques Plante (English lyrics by Mitchell Parish) ;
    • Elle chante !, lyrics by René Rouzaud.
    • La clé de mon cœur ; Les Baobabs ; Baratin ; Corps et Ame and Ce n'est pas lui !, lyrics by André Hornez ;
      La clé de mon cœur, Les Baobabs and Baratin were written for the operetta Baratin.
  • 1950 :
    • Fais-moi peur and Vacances, lyrics by Yves Favier ;
    • La Pagaïa ; Comment me préférez-vous ? ; Confidences and Je cherche un cœur, lyrics by Jean Boyer ;
      Songs written for the operetta L'École des femmes nues.
  • 1952 :
    • Le vrai Mambo (c’est vraiment beau), lyrics by André Hornez ;
    • En nourrice, lyrics by Maurice Vandair and Bourvil.
    • Toutes les femmes ; Vive le camping ; Leçon de conduite and Au volant d’une auto, lyrics by André Hornez and René Rouzaud ;
      Songs written for Georges Guétary who sings in the movie Une fille sur la route.
  • 1953 :
    • Elle et lui and Et puis, lyrics by André Hornez ;
    • Le beau Pedro ; La fontaine de Saint Éloi ; L’amour, l’amour ; Ollé, Ollé... Tickets, tickets... ; Touchant, touchant and La pluie et le beau temps, lyrics by Jean Nohain ;
      Songs written for the movie Soyez les bienvenus.
    • On n’est pas des manchots and L'Œil en coulisses, lyrics by André Hornez and André Berthomieu ;
      Songs written for Henri Génès who sings in the movie L'Œil en coulisses.
    • La Mobilette ; Grenelle ; À condition ; Moi j’aime les hommes ; Il faut toujours ; Coucher dessus, coucher dessous ; Les pyjamas ; Quoi qu’il en soit and Faisons semblant d’être amoureux, lyrics by André Hornez ;
      Songs written for the operreta Mobilette.
  • 1954 :
    • Deux amoureux sur un banc ; L'Orientale ; Oh ! Zoé and Mon petit moustique, lyrics by André Hornez.
    • Chapeau de paille, lyrics by Albert Willemetz and Jean Le Seyeux.
  • 1955 :
    • Oui, oui, Paris and Y a pas d'quoi, lyrics by André Hornez.
  • 1956 :
    • Donnez-moi tout ça, lyrics by André Hornez (English lyrics by William Engvick) ;
    • C’est Noël ; Oh ! Honoré ; Quel plaisir ! Quel travail ! and Tout ça c’est Marseille, lyrics by Jean Manse ;
      Songs written for Fernandel who sings in the movie Honoré de Marseille.
    • Cherchez la femme and Tout vient à point, lyrics by André Hornez ;
      Songs written for Georges Guétary who sings in the movie Le Chemin du Paradis.
  • 1957 :
    • Maria Flora ; Sur ma charrette sicilienne ; C’est pas d’ma faute ; Le Tambour du régiment ; Mia Cara Carina ; Toute seule à Paris ; Bonjour à Paris and La Porte du soleil, lyrics by Raymond Vincy ;
      Songs written for Rudy Hirigoyen and Lilo who sings in the operetta Maria Flora.
    • L’Auberge fleurie and Va !, lyrics by André Salvet and Francis Lopez ;
      Songs written for Rudy Hirigoyen who sings in the movie L’Auberge en folie.
  • 1958 :
    • Allez ! Roulez !, lyrics by André Hornez.
    • Ragazzinella, lyrics by Raymond Vincy.
  • 1959 :
    • Paris mes amours and Avec, lyrics by André Hornez ;
      Songs written for Josephine Baker who sings in the revue Paris mes amours.
    • Bravo mon général ; Corsica mea and Rappelle-toi, lyrics by Jean Valmy.
  • 1960 :
    • Top...Tipi...Top, lyrics by Raymond Vincy ;
    • Comme c'est bon chez toi, lyrics by Pierre Cour.
  • 1961 :
  • 1969 :
    • Si j’étais marin and Il fait beau, lyrics by Jacques Mareuil ;
      Songs written for Tino Rossi who sings in the operetta Le Marchand de soleil.
  • 1987 :

Film scores[edit]

Television scores[edit]



At the Olympia
  • 1959 : Paris mes amours
At the Le Lido
  • 1956 : C’est magnifique
  • 1957 : Prestige
  • 1959 : Avec plaisir
  • 1961 : Pour vous
  • 1962 : Suivez-moi
At the Moulin Rouge
  • 1963 : Frou Frou
  • 1965 : Frisson
  • 1967 : Fascination
  • 1970 : Fantastic
  • 1973 : Festival
  • 1976 : Follement
  • 1979 : Frénésie
  • 1983 : Femmes, Femmes, Femmes...
At the Folies Bergères
  • 1958 : Folies légères
  • 1961 : Folies chéries
  • 1964 : Folies en fêtes (This revue has been performed at the Broadway Theatre the same year)
  • 1968 : Et vive la Folie !
  • 1972 : J’aime à la Folie
  • 1977 : Folie, je t’adore
  • 1982 : Folies de Paris



  • 1951 : Compositeurs et chansons de Paris (CEF).
  • 1953 : Soyez les bienvenus - (CFPC) and Trois hommes et un piano (Columbia France).
  • 1956 : 36 Chandelles and La Joie de vivre (RTF).
  • 1957 : 36 Chansons (RTF) and Rendez-vous avec Maurice Chevalier n°2 (Gaumont).
  • 1958 : 36 Chandelles (RTF).
  • 1959 : La Joie de vivre (RTF).
  • 1960 : Toute la Chanson, Rue de la Gaîté, Au-delà de l'écran and Discorama (RTF).
  • 1962 : Dans la vie faut pas s'en faire (RTF).
  • 1979 : Nous les Artistes : Maurice Chevalier (TF1).
  • 1985 : Thé Dansant (France 2).
  • 1988 : Soir 3 (France 3) and La Chance aux chansons (TF1).
  • 1990 : Midi 3 (France 3).
  • 1993 : La Chance aux chansons (France 2).
  • 2001 : Les Refrains de la mémoire (France 5).


  • Henri Betti : Récit autobiographique, Embrasure, Paris, 1993.
  • Henri Betti : une Vie en chansons, Paul Beuscher, Paris, 2006.


External links[edit]