Skip to main content

Françiose des Varennes research for Henriette Renié biography, 1881-1994

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7778 Series 2

Scope and Contents

Series was prepared by des Varennes with documents and personal items for her biography on Henriette Renié. The majority of the series is composed of correspondence, but also includes concert programs, manuscripts, published items and documents.


  • 1881-1994

Conditions Governing Access

Open to public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Henriette Renié and Françoise des Varennes papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

From the Collection: Françoise des Varennes (1919-2004) was the goddaughter of Henriette Renié. She was a musically talented harpist but was more passionate about her writing. She wrote many poems, novels, and the biography on Renié.

From birth, Françoise des Varennes was a part of the Renié household. Her grandmother, Louise Regnier, was a close friend of Henriette Renié. Upon Regnier's death, des Varennes chose to stay with her godmother, Henriette Renié. Renié then raised her as her own daughter. Françoise had two passions in life: her literary and historical work, and preserving the memory of Renié and her work. des Varennes made many recordings of Renié playing and in 1975, the centennial of the birth of Henriette Renié, she contributed some of these recordings to the LP Henriette Renié Playing Her Own Works and Transcriptions. She also gave a biographical talk about Renié at the AHS Conference honoring the 200th anniversary. This later led to her book, Henriette Renié, La Harpe Vivante.

Biographical History

From the Collection: Henriette Renié (1875-1956) was a prominent French harpist. She significantly influenced the development of the harp as a solo concert instrument through her efforts in composition, transcription, pedagogy and performance.

At only age five, Henriette Renié knew exactly what she wanted to do. She attended a concert by Alphonse Hasselmanns and afterward said to her father, "That man is going to be my harp teacher." She then began to study the harp, and in 1887, at age eleven, Renié won the Premier Prix for harp at the Paris Conservatory. She eventually composed twenty-three works, such as Concerto en Ut Mineur, and Légende. She also produced twelve collections of transcriptions for solo harp and ninety-six for harp ensembles. Renié dedicated her life to teaching others. Her famous Méthode pour la harpe has helped her to teach some of the most prominent harpists, including Susann McDonald, Mildred Dilling, Marcel Grandjany, and Carlos Salzedo. She received the prestigious Legion of Honor and was one of the first women to receive this award. Renié never married, but cared for her mother Gabrielle, her brother François, her best friend Louise Regnier, and her goddaughter (Regnier's granddaughter) Françoise des Varennes. She helped to set up the Petite Caisse des Artistes, a non-profit organization which was dedicated to helping struggling musicians and artists anonymously. She made a mark on music and the culture of the early twentieth century, when a woman's role in society was generally to be a wife and mother. Throughout her years of teaching, composing, arranging, and performing, Renié gained the respect of Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, Théodore Dubois, Camille Saint-Säens and others. She continued to perform despite persistent health problems until about six months before her death on March 1, 1956.


22 boxes




Folders were originally arranged in a hanging file upon arrival at Brigham Young University. About half of the files were arranged by date from 1884 to 1956, while the other half were unorganized. The archivist has arranged these folders so that similar folders are close together. The original order of materials within folders has been maintained.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States