BUSNACH, WILLIAM BERTRAND:
French dramatist; born in Paris March 7, 1832; nephew of the composer Fromental Halévy. His father was associated with Bakri, to whom France was indebted to the amount of some twenty-odd million francs for provisions furnished to Bonaparte in Egypt. The lawsuit lasted for more than fifty years, and Busnach and his partner were not paid in full at the end. The elder Busnach, an Algerian Jew, became a naturalized Italian in the time of the deys, and was the first interpreter of the French army. He established himself at Paris in 1835. William—an Italian Jew born in France of an Algerian father, with a German surname and an English given name—was at first employed in the customs department. He subsequently devoted himself to dramatic work, writing many plays, a number of which have been successful. The following may be mentioned here: "Les Virtuoses du Pavé," 1864; "Première Fraîcheur, Paris-Revue," 1869; "Héloïse et Abélard," with music by Litolff, 1872; "Forte en Gueule," "La Liqueur d'Or," in collaboration with A. Liorat, music by Laurent de Rillé, 1873; "Kosiki," with Liorat, music by Lecocq, 1876.
In 1867 Busnach assumed the direction of the Athénée, where several of his operettas ("Fleur de Thé," etc.) were performed. His greatest successes he achieved, however, with his adaptation of celebrated novels for the stage; for example, "L'Assommoir," 1881; "Nana," 1882; "Pot-Bouille," 1883, all by Emile Zola; "Le Petit Jacques," by Jules Claretie, 1885; "La Marchande des Quatre Saisons," etc.
Busnach is also the author of the following novels: "La Fille de M. Lecoq," 1886; "Le Petit Gosse," 1889; "Cyprienne Guérard," 1895, etc.
- Lermina, Dictionnaire Biographique Illustré;
- La Grande Encyclopédie.