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Overview (3)

Born in Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Died in Courbevoie, 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 1893.

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.

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" and "Maître Pierre" in 1948 for Yves Montand and especially "C'est si bon" in 1947 for Jean Marco. 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 1983, his music production is abundant : revues for "Le Lido", the "Moulin Rouge", the "Folies Bergère", the "Olympia" or the "Stardust" and the "Tropicana" of Las Vegas, and many operettas and plays.

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.

On his 15 film scores, Henri Betti wrote 20 songs sung by Georges Guétary (3 in Une fille sur la route (1952) and 2 in The Three from the Filling Station (1956)), Henri Génès (2 in L'oeil en coulisses (1953)), Roger Lanzac (3 in Soyez les bienvenus (1953)), Armand Mestral (1 in Soyez les bienvenus (1953)), Christiane Jacquier (1 in Soyez les bienvenus (1953)), Monique Maurène (1 in Soyez les bienvenus (1953)), Edith Georges (1 in Les deux font la paire (1954)), Fernandel (4 in Honoré de Marseille (1956)) and Rudy Hirigoyen (2 in L'auberge en folie (1957)).

In 1959, he composed with Bruno Coquatrix the music of "Paris mes Amours" and "Avec" (lyrics by André Hornez) 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".

During his career, Henri Betti worked with the composers Paul Bonneau, Gérard Calvi, Bruno Coquatrix, Don James, Jean-Pierre Landreau, Rolf Marbot and Georges Tabet and with the lyricists André Berthomieu, Bourvil, Jean Boyer, Charlys, Maurice Chevalier, Jean Cosmos, Pierre Cour, Yves Favier, Pierre Gilbert, André Hornez, Jean Le Seyeux, Francis Lopez, Jean Manse, Jacques Mareuil, Jean Nohain, Édith Piaf, Jacques Pills, Jacques Plante, René Rouzaud, André Salvet, Pascal Sevran, Maurice Vandair, Henri Varna, 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 1958, he collaborated with Jean-Pierre Landreau to compose all the music revues of Lido for the company "Lido-Mélodies" whose two founding members were Pierre Delvincourt and Jean Gruyer.

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 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 1987, he composed his last song, "C'est à Brasilia", with the lyrics of Pascal Sevran. The song was performed by Les Soeurs Étienne.

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 of natural causes at the age of 87 years.

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 (17)

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 Maurice Baquet, 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.
On April 28, 1958, he was one of the seven composers invited to the TV show Trente-Six Chandelles: Les grandes familles de Trente-Six Chandelles : la chanson (1958) hosted by Jean Nohain which was devoted to the successes of the Chanson Française between 1945 and 1955. The composers have played the melody of their favorite song on the piano : Henri Betti for "C'est si Bon" (1947), Louiguy for "La Vie en Rose" (1946), Paul Durand for "Boléro" (1948), Joseph Kosma for "Les Feuilles Mortes" (1946), Louis Ferrari for "Domino" (1949), Paul Misraki for "Tu n'peux pas t'Figurer" (1950) and André Popp for "Les Lavandières du Portugal" (1954).
Most of his songs have known several versions : "La Chanson du Maçon" (1941), "La Fête à Neu-Neu" (1943), "Le Régiment des Mandolines" (1946), "C'est si bon" and "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" (1947), "Rien dans les Mains, rien dans les Poches" and "Maître Pierre" (1948), "Les Baobabs" (1949), "Elle Chante" and "Je Cherche un Coeur" (1950), "Toutes les Femmes" (1951), "Le Vrai Mambo" (1952), "Deux Amoureux sur un Banc" (1954) and "C'est Noël" (1956).
In Honoré de Marseille (1956), Fernandel sings three songs composed by Henri Betti with the lyrics by Jean Manse. They had written a fourth song for the movie, "C'est Noël", sung by Fernandel in a scene that was deleted at the editing. So it appears only in the record released the same year with the other three songs of the film ("Tout ça c'est Marseille", "Quel plaisir ! Quel travail !" and "Oh ! Honoré") all orchestrated by Paul Bonneau. "C'est Noël" is recorded the same year by Tino Rossi with Pierre Spiers and his Orchestra and by Georges Guétary with Jo Moutet and his Orchestra.
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 "Église Saint-Pierre de Neuilly-sur-Seine", he is then cremated at the crematorium of the "Fort Mont-Valérien" and buried in the "Neuilly-sur-Seine Old Cemetery" (Division 11).
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 with the title "What Can I Do ?"), "C'est si bon" (by Jerry Seelen in 1949), "Maître Pierre" (by Mitchell Parish in 1951 with the title "The Windmill Song") and "Donnez-moi tout ça" (by William Engvick in 1956 with the title "Give me More").
In 1948, he participated in five radio programs broadcast on Paris Inter where he played eleven songs that he composed : "Mandarinade" (lyrics by Maurice Chevalier), "Le Régiment des Mandolines" (lyrics by Maurice Vandair), "Mais qu'est-ce que j'ai ?" (lyrics by Édith Piaf), "Dictionnaire" (lyrics by Jacques Pills), "La Chanson du Maçon" (lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Maurice Vandair), "Notre Espoir" (lyrics by Maurice Chevalier), "Au Fond de la Vallée" (lyrics by Tony Andal), "C'est si Bon" (lyrics by André Hornez), "La Leçon de Piano" (lyrics by Maurice Vandair), "Chanson Populaire" (lyrics by Maurice Chevalier and Maurice Vandair) and "Le Chapeau à Plumes" (lyrics by Maurice Vandair).
On April 28, 2018, Benoît Duteurtre hosts his radio show "Étonnez-moi Benoît" about his career with the participation of the composer's son and grandson : François Betti and Olivier Betti.

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