Louis-Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer and conductor. His output includes orchestral works such as the Symphonie fantastique and Harold in Italy, choral pieces including the Requiem and L'Enfance du Christ, his three operas Benvenuto Cellini, Les Troyens and Béatrice et Bénédict, and works of hybrid genres such as the "dramatic symphony ...
- Julian Rushton
Hector Berlioz, Soundtrack: Star Trek: First Contact. Hector Berlioz was born on December 11, 1803, into the family of Dr. Louis Berlioz and Marie-Antoinette-Josephine. Hector was the first of six children, three of whom died. He took music lessons at home from a visiting teacher and played flute and guitar. By age 16 he wrote a song for voice and guitar that was later reused for his ...
- Hector Berlioz
The great 19th century French composer Hector Berlioz holds a unique place in musical history. Far ahead of his time, he was one of the most original of great composers, but also an innovator as a practical musician, and a writer and critic whose literary achievement is hardly less significant than his musical output.
Hector Berlioz was born on December 11, 1803, into the family of Dr. Louis Berlioz and Marie-Antoinette-Josephine. Hector was the first of six children, three of whom died. He took music lessons at home from a visiting teacher and played flute and guitar.
- Louis-Hector Berlioz
- March 8, 1869 in Paris, France
May 17, 2021 · Hector Berlioz, as he was known, was entranced with music as a child. He learned to play the flute and guitar, and became a self-taught composer. Heeding his physician father's wishes, Berlioz ...
- Life and Studies
- "Beethoven Is Dead, and Berlioz Alone Can Revive Him"
- Literary Career
- Reception at Home and Abroad
- Musical Works
- External Links
Hector Berlioz was born in France at La Côte-Saint-André, situated between Lyon and Grenoble. His father was a physician, and young Hector was sent to Paris to study medicine at the age of eighteen. Being strongly attracted to music, he began visiting operaperformances. Once he obtained his medical qualification, he decided to follow his true liking — music, against his parents' urgent pleas not to do so. His mother especially held musicians and actors in low regard, referring to them as "abo...
Berlioz is said to have been innately romantic, experiencing emotions deeply from early childhood. This manifested itself in his weeping at passages of Virgil as a child, and later in his love affairs. At the age of 23, his initially unrequited love for the Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Constance Smithson became the inspiration for his Symphonie fantastique.Harriet was described as a mediocre actress who relied on overacting to disguise a weak voice and lack of skill. However, the fasci...
Berlioz traveled throughout much of the 1840s and 1850s with Marie, conducting operas and symphonic music, both his own and those composed by others. Germany in particular welcomed him; Prague and England also embraced his talent. In Vienna, pies were named after him and jewelry containing his cameo was in fashion. On his tours he met other leading composers of the age, among them Schumann, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Brahms, and Liszt (who promoted his works). During his lifetime, he was more famou...
Thus spoke the virtuoso violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini after hearing Berlioz's Harold in Italy. Originally, Paganini commissioned Berlioz to compose a viola concerto, intending to premiere it as soloist. This became the symphony for viola and orchestra Harold in Italy. Paganini eventually did not premiere the piece, but Berlioz's memoirs recount that on hearing it, he knelt before Berlioz and declared his genius, and the next day offered him 20,000 francs. With this money, Berlioz was able to halt his work as a critic and focus on writing the dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliettefor voices, chorus and orchestra.
Music of Romanticism was linked with other arts, particularly literature, where an easy access to novels and poetry facilitated the composers' contact with the spirit of the age. However, since composers were mostly employed by courts, their adoption of Romantic aspirations was not unbridled. Berlioz stood out among this crowd; nobody adopted the elements of Romanticism as masterfully as he did. He would look for inspiration in works of literature, which he would transform to reflect his own feelings through those of the protagonists. Harold, the poet in Symphonie fantastique,as well as other characters, were essentially Berlioz's alter ego. He would write detailed programs to accompany his works. He also wrote musical reviews and supported himself in this fashion for many years. He had a bold, vigorous style, at times imperious and sarcastic. Evenings With the Orchestra (1852) is a scathing satire of provincial musical life in nineteenth century France. His Memoirs(1870) paints a m...
The rejection by his native France, whose established concert and opera scene was irritated by his unconventional music, was very painful for Berlioz, notwithstanding the acclaim abroad. In 1844 he was cartooned as a purveyor of noise for his giant concert for the Festival de l'Industrie with 1,000 performers, 24 horns, 25 harps, and other instruments. He was desperate to obtain a permanent salaried position so he would not have to constantly worry about finances. Instead, he watched with sadness others being elected to positions he had coveted while he received abusive treatment at his performances. The jeers and catcalls displayed during Les Troyens prompted his leading biographer to label it “one of the most astonishing musical scandals of all time.” In 1844, Berlioz wrote: He had to arrange for his own performances as well as cover all costs, which took a heavy toll on him both financially and emotionally. He had a core audience of about 1,200 loyal attendees, but the nature of...
The music of Hector Berlioz is cited as extremely influential in the development of the symphonic form, instrumentation, and the depiction of programmatic ideas — features central to Romanticism. He was considered extremely modern for his day, and together with Wagner and Liszt, he is sometimes characterized as ‘The great trinity of progressive 19th century Romanticism’. Liszt was his enthusiastic supporter and performer, and Wagner, after first expressing great reservations about Berlioz, wrote to Liszt saying: "We, Liszt, Berlioz and Wagner, are three equals, but we must take care not to say so to him." (source not cited) As Wagner implied, Berlioz was indifferent to the 'Music of the Future', although he had an impact on both Liszt and Wagner, along with other forward looking composers whose works he did not care for. His innovations in music were daring, bordering on iconoclasm, and often foreshadowed new styles and techniques, such as Symphonie fantastique, which is the precurs...Symphonie fantastique (1830) — inspired in part by Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Written when he was 27 years old and infatuated with Harriet Smithson, who would not at...King Lear (1831) — written in Italy when he discovered that his fiancée, who took the place of Smithson after she refused to meet him, had married another man. He was reportedly determined to kill...Le corsaire (The Corsair),overture for orchestra, op. 21 (1831).Overture to Benvenuto Cellini,for orchestra, op. 23 (1837) — inspired by Cellini's autobiography.Berlioz, Hector. Mémoires. Flammarion, first edition, 1991. ISBN 2082125394.Cairns, David (ed). The memoirs of Hector Berlioz. Everyman Publishers, second revised edition, 2002. ISBN 185715231X.Ewen, David (Ed). The Complete Book of Classical Music. London: Hale, 1966. ISBN 0709038658.Faul, Michel. Louis Jullien, musique,spectacle et folie au XIXe siècle. Editions Atlantica. 2006. ISBN 2351650387.
All links retrieved December 12, 2017. English Language 1. The Hector Berlioz Website, Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. 2. "Berlioz's Gravesite" Find a Grave Website. French Language 1. "Berlioz, Hector" Intratext Digital Library.
Hector Berlioz, French composer, critic, and conductor of the Romantic period, known largely for his Symphonie fantastique (1830), the choral symphony Roméo et Juliette (1839), and the dramatic piece La Damnation de Faust (1846). His last years were marked by fame abroad and hostility at home. The