A Study on the Life and Work of Dr. Betty Bertaux

April 5, 2011 / By: Mairee D. Pantzer

The objective of this thesis was to document Betty Bertaux’s contributions to the field of children’s choral music and investigate the founding and cultivating of Children’s Chorus of Maryland.  In her formative years, Bertaux learned to play the piano and flute, but was discouraged by her mother not to pursue her first love—singing.  Undaunted, Betty studied voice in college and became a music educator; however, her most significant development as a music teacher began at Holy Names College (HNC), where she studied Kodály pedagogy.

While she was studying at HNC, Betty received a challenge from one of her teachers, Lois Choksy, to begin arranging American folk songs for treble choir.  Her arrangement of Shady Grove was the result of that challenge, and she later began a choral series with Boosey & Hawkes in 1981.  Today, The Betty Bertaux Series has fifty arrangements and compositions for treble choir.

Returning from HNC in 1975, Betty determined to provide for a need she observed in the community.  She developed a children’s choir that was equally dedicated to performance and music literacy.  Establishing Children’s Chorus of Maryland in 1976, the organization grew and is currently celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary.

This study is divided into five sections:  Bertaux’s formative years through the eve of the foundation of Children’s Chorus of Maryland; the “mountain-top” and “valley” experiences of her adult life; analysis of fifteen of her compositions and arrangements; an examination of her overall work and compositional style; and a summary of her significant contributions to the field of children’s choral music.

This study is made possible through the primary sources of interviews with Betty Bertaux and interviews with colleagues, mentors, students, and friends—twenty in all.