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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 24 July 1917Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Date of Death 7 July 2005Courbevoie, Hauts-de-Seine, France  (natural causes)
Birth NameAnge Eugène Betti

Mini Bio (1)

Henri Betti was born at 1 rue Barillerie in the district of "Vieux-Nice" in a modest family : his father Pierre Betti (1892-1971) was a house painter and his mother Madeleine Suaut (1889-1975) was a fishmonger. His paternal family originates from the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy : his grandfather Ferruccio Betti (1862-1941) was born in Parma and he immigrated to Nice with his wife Clémence Fontana (1863-1917) and his children in the late 1890s.

In 1935, he entered at the Conservatory of Paris which is then directed by Henri Rabaud. He is the student of Lazare Lévy (1882-1964) for piano class and Raymond Pech (1876-1952) 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 Roger Lucchesi on the "Promenade des Anglais" in Nice, 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, "La Fête à Neu-Neu" in 1943 or "Chanson Populaire" in 1945. 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 "S.A.C.E.M" 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 and "Rien dans les Mains, rien dans les Poches" in 1948 for Yves Montand, "Maître Pierre" in 1949 for Georges Guétary and especially "C'est si bon" in 1947 for Jacques Hélian and his Orchestra January 18, 1948. It is then recorded by Les Soeurs Étienne that make it a success. It is then sung for the first time before an audience by Suzy Delair at the Nice Jazz Festival in 1948 before becoming a standard international jazz with Louis Armstrong, who recorded for the first time in New York in 1950 with the English lyrics 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 (1956) which will nearly 4 million admissions in France in 1957. In 1953, he played the role of the composer and accompanist of the company of Jean Nohain in Soyez les bienvenus (1953) which he also composed the music for the film.

In 1959, he wrote with Bruno Coquatrix the music of "Paris mes Amours" and "Avec" for Josephine Baker singing at the Olympia.

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, Charles Cachant, Maurice Chevalier, Bruno Coquatrix, Jean Cosmos, Pierre Cour, Yves Favier, Philippe-Gérard, Pierre Gilbert, André Hornez, Jean-Pierre Landreau, Jean Le Seyeux, Francis Lopez, Jean Manse, Rolf Marbot, Jacques Mareuil, Jean Nohain, Édith Piaf, Jacques Pills, Jacques Plante, Alexandre Rivemale, Robert Rocca, René Rouzaud, André Salvet, Pascal Sevran, Robert Thomas, Jean Valmy, Maurice Vandair, Henri Varna, Serge Véber, Raymond Vincy and Albert Willemetz.

In 1951, he participated with Albert Willemetz to the foundation of the "Comité du Coeur", relief fund for needy artists under the auspices of the "S.A.C.E.M", which will be Vice-President.

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.

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 Pierre Delvincourt and Jean Gruyer.

He was member of the "Conseil d'administration" of the "S.A.C.D" from 1961 to 1975 and of the "S.A.C.E.M" in 1982, 1983, from 1985 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1992.

Henri Betti is made "Chevalier" of the "Ordre des Palmes Académiques" in 1960. He received the "Prix Maurice-Yvain", awarded by the "S.A.C.D", in 1980 and the "Médaille d'or" of the "S.A.C.E.M" in 1994.

In 1993, he published his autobiography, "C'est si bon !", published by "Embrasure".

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

Henri Betti married with the tap dancer Françoise Engels in 1949 in Bois-Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine). He had met her during performances of the operetta "Baratin" at "L'Européen" the same year. It is in this same operetta his usual lyricist André Hornez met his future wife Gisèle Fréry who was also a dancer.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Olivier Betti

Spouse (1)

Françoise Engels (30 July 1949 - 7 July 2005) (his death) (3 children)

Trivia (15)

Older brother of Freda Betti.
Great granduncle of Alexy Bosetti.
André Hornez was the godfather and Paulette Coquatrix was the godmother of Monique Betti.
During his musical studies at the "Conservatoire de Paris" he was in the same class as Paul Bonneau, Léo Chauliac, Henri Dutilleux, Henri Leca, Louiguy, Pierre Spiers and Raymond Trouard. During his career, he worked and became close friends with Paul Bonneau. In 1962, Paul Bonneau orchestrated a new version of "C'est si bon" (music composed by Henri Betti in 1947) performed by Les Djinns.
André Hornez was his best man and Henri Betti was the best man of his sister Freda Betti.
Married three months before the wedding of his sister Freda Betti.
Most of his songs have known several versions : "Notre Espoir" and "La Chanson du Maçon" (1941), "La Fête à Neu-Neu" (1943), "Le Régiment des Mandolines" (1946), "C'est si bon", "Le Chapeau à Plumes" and "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" (1947), "Rien dans les Mains, rien dans les Poches" and "Maître Pierre" (1948), "Le Vrai Mambo" (1952) and "C'est Noël" (1956).
In Honoré de Marseille (1956), Fernandel sings three songs composed by Henri Betti with the lyrics 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 Georges Guétary and Tino Rossi.
In October 1947, he offered to Yves Montand singing two songs he has composed : "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" (lyrics by Édith Piaf) and "C'est si bon" (lyrics by André Hornez). Yves Montand recorded "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" with Jean Marion and his Orchestra but not "C'est si bon". After the success of the recording of "C'est si bon" by Les Soeurs Étienne with Raymond Legrand and his Orchestra, he decided to record it. He recorded the song in May 1948 with Bob Castella and his Orchestra.
No family relationship with Priscilla Betti.
His funeral took place 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" which was the music publisher of "C'est si bon" in 1947.
In 2016, Lambert Wilson released the album "Wilson chante Montand" in which he sings the songs of Yves Montand. Among the 17 songs of the album there is "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" which was written in 1947 by Henri Betti (music) and Édith Piaf (lyrics). The musical arrangements of the 17 tracks were made by Bruno Fontaine.
Four of his songs have been adapted into English : "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" (by Harold Rome in 1949), "C'est si bon" (by Jerry Seelen in 1950), "Maître Pierre" (by Mitchell Parish in 1951) and "Donnez-moi tout ça" (by William Engvick in 1956).

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