Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz

Louis Hector Berlioz (December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869) was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions "Symphonie fantastique" and "Grande Messe des morts (Requiem)." Berlioz made great contributions to the modern orchestra with his "Treatise on Instrumentation" and by utilizing huge orchestral forces for his works; as a conductor, he performed several concerts with over 1,000 musicians [ [http://www.classicfm.co.uk/Article.asp?id=212210&spid=9973 Classic FM] ] At the other extreme, he also composed around 50 songs for voice and piano.


Early years

Berlioz was born in France at La Côte-Saint-André [http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.htm Matthew B. Tepper] ] in the département of Isère, near Lyon. [http://www.ipl.org/div/mushist/rom/berlioz.htm Internet Public Library] ] His father, a respected [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] provincial physician [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] and scholar, was responsible for much of the young Berlioz's education. [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] His father was an atheist, [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] with a liberal outlook; [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] his mother was an orthodox Roman Catholic. [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] He had five siblings in all, three of whom did not survive to adulthood. [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] The other two, Nanci and Adèle, remained close to Berlioz throughout his life. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ]

Unlike many other composers of the time, Berlioz was not a child prodigy; he began studying music at age 12, when he began writing small compositions and arrangements. As a result of his father's discouragement, he never learned to play the piano, a peculiarity he later described as both beneficial and detrimental. [ [http://www.hberlioz.com/LaCote/BerliozMemoirs14E.html HBerlioz.com] ] He became proficient at guitar and flute. [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] [http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/composer/berlioz.html EssentialsOfMusic.com] ] He learnt harmony by textbooks alone—he was not formally trained. [http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/composer/berlioz.html EssentialsOfMusic.com] ] [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] The majority of his early compositions were romances and chamber pieces. [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] [http://www.rhapsody.com/hectorberlioz/more.html Rhapsody.com] ]

Still at age 12, as recalled in his "Mémoires", he experienced his first passion for a woman, an 18 year old next door neighbour named Estelle Fornier (née Dubœuf). [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] Berlioz appears to have been innately Romantic, this characteristic manifesting itself in his love affairs, adoration of great romantic literature, [http://www.karadar.it/Dictionary/berlioz.html Karadar.com] ] and his weeping at passages by Virgil [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] (by age twelve he had learned to read Virgil in Latin and translate it into French under his father's tutelage), Shakespeare, and Beethoven.

tudent life


In 1821, at age 18, Berlioz was sent to Paris to study medicine, [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] a field for which he had no interest and, later, outright disgust after viewing a human corpse being dissected. [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] (He gives a colorful account in his 'Mémoires".)Berlioz, Hector, translated by Cairns, David (1865, 1912, 2002). The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz. Hardback, pp.20-1. Everyman's Library/Random House. ISBN 0-375-41391-X] He began to take advantage of the institutions he now had access to in the city, including his first visit to the Paris Opéra, where he saw "Iphigénie en Tauride" by Christoph Willibald Gluck, a composer whom he came to admire above all, jointly alongside Ludwig van Beethoven.

He also began to visit the Paris Conservatoire library, seeking out scores of Gluck's operas and making personal copies of parts of them. He recalled in his "Mémoires" his first encounter with Luigi Cherubini, the Conservatoire's then music director. Cherubini attempted to throw the impetuous Berlioz out of the library since he was not a formal music student at that time.Berlioz/Cairns - Memoirs pp.34-6] [http://www.hberlioz.com/Writings/HBM09.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Berlioz also heard two operas by Gaspare Spontini, a composer who influenced him through their friendship, and whom he later championed when working as a critic. From then on, he devoted himself to composition. He was encouraged in his endeavors by Jean-François Le Sueur, director of the Royal Chapel and professor at the Conservatoire. In 1823, he wrote his first article—a letter to the journal "Le Corsaire" defending Spontini's "La Vestale". By now he had composed several works including "Estelle et Némorin" and "Le Passage de la mer Rouge" (The Crossing of the Red Sea) - both now lost - the latter of which convinced Lesueur to take Berlioz on as one of his private pupils. [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ]

Despite his parents' disapproval, [http://www.karadar.it/Dictionary/berlioz.html Karadar.com] ] in 1824 he formally abandoned his medical studies [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] to pursue a career in music. He composed the "Messe solennelle". This work was rehearsed and revised after the rehearsal but not performed until the following year. Berlioz later claimed to have burnt the score, [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3870/is_199904/ai_n8835348 FindArticles.com] ] but it was miraculously re-discovered in 1991. [http://www.hberlioz.com/others/WGladines-e.htm HBerlioz.com] ] [http://www.classicalarchives.com/bios/codm/berlioz.html ClassicalArchives.com] ] Later that year or in 1825, he began to compose the opera "Les francs-juges", which was completed the following year but went unperformed. The work survives only in fragments;Cairns, David (1989, rev. 1999). Berlioz: The Making of an Artist, 1803-1832. Paperback, p.144 Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-140-28726-4] the overture survives and is sometimes played in concert.

In 1826 he began attending the Conservatoire [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] to study composition under Le Sueur and Anton Reicha. He also submitted a fugue to the Prix de Rome, but was eliminated in the primary round. Winning the prize would become an obsession until he finally won it in 1830, with his submitting a new cantata every year until he succeeded at his fourth attempt. The reason for this interest in the prize was not just academic recognition. The prize included a five year pension [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02495a.htm NewAdvent.org] ] -much needed income for the struggling composer. In 1827 he composed the "Waverly" overture after Walter Scott's [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] "Waverley" novels. He also began working as a chorus singer at a vaudeville theatre to contribute towards an income. [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] Later that year, he saw his future wife Harriet Smithson at the Odéon theatre playing Ophelia and Juliet in "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare. He immediately became infatuated by both actress [http://www.karadar.it/Dictionary/berlioz.html Karadar.com] ] and playwright. [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] From then on, he began to send Harriet messages, but she considered Berlioz's letters introducing himself to her so overly passionate that she refused his advances. [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ]

In 1828 Berlioz heard Beethoven's third and fifth symphonies performed at the Paris Conservatoire - an experience that he found overwhelming.Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 p.265] He also read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Faust" for the first time (in French translation), which would become the inspiration for "Huit scènes de Faust" (his Opus 1), much later re-developed as "La damnation de Faust". He also came into contact with Beethoven's string quartetsCairns - Berlioz vol.1 p.311] and piano sonatas, and recognised the importance of these immediately. He began to study English so that he could read Shakespeare. At a similar time, he also began to write musical criticism. [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ]

He began and finished composition of the Symphonie fantastique in 1830, a work which would bring Berlioz much fame and notoriety. He entered into a relationship with - and subsequently became engaged to - Camille Moke, despite the symphony being inspired by Berlioz's obsession with Harriet Smithson. As his fourth cantata for submittal to the Prix de Rome neared completion, the July Revolution broke out. "I was finishing my cantata when the Revolution broke out," he recorded in his "Mémoires", "I dashed off the final pages of my orchestral score to the sound of stray bullets coming over the roofs and pattering on the wall outside my window. On the 29th I had finished, and was free to go out and roam about Paris 'till morning, pistol in hand". [http://www.marseillaise.org/english/berlioz.html La Marseillaise site] ] Shortly later, he finally won the prize [http://www.carringbush.net/~pml/music/berlioz/ CarringBush.net] ] [http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Berlioz,+(Louis)+Hector Encyclopedia.Farlex.com] ] with the cantata "Sardanapale". He also arranged the French national anthem "La Marseillaise" as well as composed an overture to Shakespeare's "The Tempest", which was the first of his pieces to play at the Paris Opéra, but an hour before the performance began, quite ironically, a sudden storm created the worst rain in Paris for 50 years, meaning the performance was almost deserted.Berlioz/Cairns - Memoirs pp.105-6] Berlioz met Franz Liszt who was also attending the concert. This proved to be the beginning of a long friendship. Liszt would later transcribe the entire "Symphonie fantastique" for piano to enable more people to hear it.


On December 30, 1831, Berlioz left France for Rome, prompted by a clause in the "Prix de Rome" which required winners to spend two years studying there. Although none of his major works was actually written in Italy, his travels and experiences there would later influence and inspire much of his music. This is most evident in the thematic aspects of his music, particularly "Harold en Italie" (1834), a work inspired by Byron’s "Childe Harold". Berlioz later recalled that his, "intention was to write a series of orchestral scenes, in which the solo viola would be involved as a more or less active participant [with the orchestra] while retaining its own character. By placing it among the poetic memories formed from my wanderings in Abruzzi, I wanted to make the viola a kind of melancholy dreamer in the manner of Byron’s Childe-Harold." ["Memoirs", 225.]

While in Rome, he stayed at the French Academy in the Villa Medici. He found the city distasteful, writing, "Rome is the most stupid and prosaic city I know; it is no place for anyone with head or heart." [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] He therefore made an effort to leave the city as often as possible, making frequent trips to the surrounding country. During one of these trips, while Berlioz enjoyed an afternoon of sailing, he encountered a group of Carbonari. These were members of a secret society of Italian patriots based in France with the aim of creating a unified Italy.Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 p.442]

During his stay in Italy, he received a letter from the mother of his fiancée informing him that she had called off their engagement. Instead her daughter was to marry Camille Pleyel (son of Ignaz Pleyel), a rich piano manufacturer. Enraged, Berlioz decided to return to Paris and take revenge on Pleyel, his fiancée, and her mother by killing all three of them. He created an elaborate plan, going so far as to purchase a dress, wig and hat with a veil (with which he was to disguise himself as a woman in order to gain entry to their home).Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 pp.457-9] He even stole a pair of double-barrelled pistols from the Academy to kill them with, saving a single shot for himself.Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 pp.457-9] Meticulously careful, Berlioz purchased phials of strychnine and laudanumCairns - Berlioz vol.1 pp.457-9] to use as poisons in the event of a pistol jamming.

Despite this careful planning, Berlioz failed to carry through with the plot. By the time he had reached Genoa, he realised he left his disguise in the side pocket of a carriage during his journey. After arriving in Nice (at that time, part of Italy), he reconsidered the entire plan, deciding it to be inappropriate and foolish.Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 pp.457-9] He sent a letter to the Academy in Rome, requesting that he be allowed to return. This request was accepted, [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] and he prepared for his trip back.

Before returning to Rome, Berlioz composed the overtures to "King Lear" in Nice [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] and "Rob Roy", [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] and began work on a sequel to the "Symphonie fantastique", "Le retour à la vie (The Return to Life)", [http://www.nndb.com/people/847/000024775/ NNDB.com] ] renamed "Lélio" in 1855.

Upon his return to Rome, Berlioz posed for a portrait painting by Emile Signol (completed in April 1832), which Berlioz did not consider to be a good likeness of himself.Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 p.542]

Berlioz continued to travel throughout his stay in Italy. He visited Pompeii, Naples, Milan, Tivoli, Florence, Turin and Genoa. Italy was important in providing Berlioz with experiences that would be impossible in France. At times, it was as if he himself was actually experiencing the Romantic tales of Byron in person; consorting with brigands, corsairs, and peasants. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] In November 1832 he returned to Paris to promote his music, after spending 15 months in Italy, nearly killing his former fiancée’s family, and discovering a deeper romantic side of himself that would continue to affect his music forever.

Decade of productivity

Between 1830 and 1840, Berlioz wrote many of his most popular and enduring works. [http://www.classicalarchives.com/bios/codm/berlioz.html ClassicalArchives.com] ] The foremost of these are the "Symphonie fantastique" (1830), "Harold en Italie" (1834), the "Grande Messe des morts" ("Requiem") (1837) and "Roméo et Juliette" (1839).

On Berlioz's return to Paris, a concert including "Symphonie fantastique" (which had extensively revised in Italy) [http://members.aol.com/ComposerScott/essays/Berlioz.html Scott D. Farquhar] ] and "Le retour à la vie" was performed, with among others in attendance: Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, père, Heinrich Heine, Niccolò Paganini, Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, Alfred de Vigny, Théophile Gautier, Jules Janin and Harriet Smithson. At this time, Berlioz also met playwright Ernest Legouvé who became a lifelong friend. A few days after the performance, Berlioz and Harriet were finally introduced and entered into a relationship. Despite Berlioz not understanding spoken English and Harriet not knowing any French, [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] on October 3, 1833, they married in a civil ceremony at the British Embassy with Liszt as one of the witnesses. [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] The following year their only child, Louis Berlioz, was born - a source of initial disappointment, anxiety and eventual pride to his father. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ]

In 1834, virtuoso violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini commissioned Berlioz to compose a viola concerto, [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] intending to premiere it as soloist. This became the symphony for viola and orchestra, "Harold en Italie". Paganini changed his mind about playing the piece himself when he saw the first sketches for the work; he expressed misgivings over its outward lack of complexity.Fact|date=August 2007 The premiere of the piece was held later that year. After initially rejecting the piece, , Paganini, as Berlioz's "Mémoires" recount, knelt before Berlioz in front of the orchestra after hearing it for the first time and proclaimed him a genius and heir to Beethoven. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Scores/sromeo.htm HBerlioz.com] ] [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-8194 Encyclopædia Britannica] ] The next day he sent Berlioz a gift of 20,000 francs, [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] the generosity of which left Berlioz uncharacteristically lost for words.Berlioz/Cairns - Memoirs p.243] Around this time, Berlioz decided to conduct most of his own concerts, tired as he was of conductors who did not understand his music. This decision launched what was to become a lucrative and creatively fruitful career in conducting music both by himself and other leading composers.

Berlioz composed the opera "Benvenuto Cellini" in 1836. He was to spend much effort and money in the following decades trying to have it performed successfully. "Benvenuto Cellini" was premiered at the Paris Opéra on September 10, but was a failure due to a hostile audience. [http://www.carringbush.net/~pml/music/berlioz/ CarringBush.net] ] [http://www.nndb.com/people/847/000024775/ NNDB.com] ] One of his most enduring pieces followed "Benvenuto Cellini"—the "Grande Messe des morts", first performed at Les Invalides [http://web.ukonline.co.uk/wokingchoral/Berlioz%20programme%20notes.htm Programme Notes - Berlioz Requiem] ] in December of that year. [http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/chap01.htm Matthew B. Tepper] ] Its gestation was difficult; due to the state commission for the work [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-8194 Encyclopædia Britannica] ] [http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Berlioz,+(Louis)+Hector Encyclopedia.Farlex.com] ] much bureaucracy had to be endured. There was also opposition from Luigi Cherubini, who was at the time the music director of the Paris Conservatoire. Cherubini felt that a government-sponsored commission should naturally be offered to himself rather than the young Berlioz, who was considered an eccentric. [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] (It should be noted, however, that regardless of the animosity between the two composers, Berlioz learned from and admired Cherubini's music,Cairns - Berlioz vol.1 p.312+2, pics, top caption] such as the requiem.) [http://www.playbillarts.com/features/article/6004.html Playbill Arts] ]

Thanks to the money Paganini had given him after hearing "Harold", Berlioz was able to pay off Harriet's and his own debts and suspend his work as a critic. This allowed him to focus on writing the "dramatic symphony" "Roméo et Juliette" for voices, chorus and orchestra. Berlioz later the identified the "love scene" from this choral symphony, as he called it, as his favourite composition.Fact|date=August 2007 (He considered his "Requiem" his best work, however: "If I were threatened with the destruction of the whole of my works save one, I should crave mercy for the "Messe des morts".) [http://tickets.royalalberthall.com/season/production.aspx?id=6977&src=t&monthyear=10-2006&detect=yes Royal Albert Hall] ] It was a success both at home and abroad, unlike later great vocal works such as "La damnation de Faust" and "Les Troyens", which were commercial failures. "Roméo et Juliette" was premiered in a series of three concerts later in 1839 to distinguished audiences, one including Richard Wagner.

The same year "Roméo" premiered, Berlioz was appointed "Conservateur Adjoint" (Deputy Librarian) Paris Conservatoire Library. Berlioz supported himself and his family by writing musical criticism for Paris publications, primarily "Journal des Débats" for over thirty years, and also "Gazette musicale" and "Le Rénovateur". [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] While his career as a critic and writer [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] provided him with a comfortable income, and he had an obvious talent for writing, he came to detest [http://www.classicalarchives.com/bios/codm/berlioz.html ClassicalArchives.com] ] [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19991128/ai_n14270663 FindArticles.com] ] [http://www.carringbush.net/~pml/music/berlioz/ CarringBush.net] ] the amount of time spent attending performances to review, as it severely limited his free time to promote his own composition [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] and produce more compositions. It should also be noted that despite his prominent position in musical criticism, he did not use his articles to promote his own works. [http://www.nndb.com/people/847/000024775/ NNDB.com] ]


After the 1830s, Berlioz found it increasingly difficult to achieve recognition for his music in France. As a result, he began to travel to other countries more often. Between 1842 and 1863 he traveled to Germany, England, Austria, Russia and elsewhere, [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] [http://www.karadar.it/Dictionary/berlioz.html Karadar.com] ] where he conducted operas and orchestral music - both his own and others'. During his lifetime, Berlioz was as famous a conductor as he was as a composer. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19991128/ai_n14270663 FindArticles.com] ]

In 1840, the "Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale" was commissioned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution of 1830. Due to a strict deadline, it was performed only days after it was completed. The performance was held in the open air on July 28, conducted by Berlioz himself, at the Place de la Bastille. The piece was difficult to hear due to the crowds and timpani of the drum corps. This was later remedied by a concert performance a month later, and Wagner voiced his approval of the work. [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-8194 Encyclopædia Britannica] ] The following year he began but later abandoned the composition of a new opera, "La Nonne sanglante"; some fragments survive. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ]

In 1841, Berlioz wrote recitatives for a production of Weber's "Der Freischütz" at the Paris Opéra and also orchestrated Weber’s "Invitation à la valse" to add ballet music to it. Later that year Berlioz finished composing the song cycle "Les nuits d'été" for piano and voices (later to be orchestrated). He also entered into a relationship with singer Marie Recio who would become his second wife.

In 1842, Berlioz embarked on a concert tour of Brussels, Belgium from September to October. In December he began a tour in Germany which continued until the middle of next year. Towns visited included Berlin, Hanover, Leipzig, Stuttgart, Weimar, Hechingen, Darmstadt, Dresden, Brunswick, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Mannheim. In Leipzig he met Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann, the latter of whom had written an enthusiastic article on the "Symphonie fantastique". He also met Heinrich Marschner in Hanover, Wagner in Dresden and Giacomo Meyerbeer in Berlin. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Back in Paris, Berlioz began to compose the concert overture "Le Carnaval romain", based on [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] music from "Benvenuto Cellini". The work was finished the following year and was premiered shortly after. Nowadays it is among the most popular of his overtures.

In early 1844, Berlioz's highly influential [http://www.ipl.org/div/mushist/rom/berlioz.htm Internet Public Library] ] [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] "Treatise on Instrumentation" was published for the first time. At this time Berlioz was producing several serialisations for music journals which would eventually be collected into his "Mémoires" and "Les Soirées de l’Orchestre" (Evenings with the Orchestra). [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] He took a recouperation trip to Nice late that year, during which he composed the concert overture "La Tour de Nice" (The Tower of Nice), later to be revised and renamed "Le Corsaire". [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Berlioz separated from his wife Harriet, who had long since been suffering from alcohol abuse due to the failure of her acting career, [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] and moved in with Marie Recio. He continued to provide for Harriet for the rest of her life. He also met Mikhail Glinka (who he had initially met in Italy and remained a close friend), who was in Paris between 1844-5, and persuaded Berlioz to embark on one of two tours of Russia. Berlioz's joke "If the Emperor of Russia wants me, then I am up for sale" was taken seriously. [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] The two tours of Russia (the second in 1867) proved so financially successful [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] that they secured Berlioz's finances despite the large amounts of money he was losing in writing unsuccessful compositions. In 1845 he embarked on his first large-scale concert tour of France. He also attended and wrote a report on the inauguration of a statue to Beethoven in Bonn, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] and began composing "La damnation de Faust", incorporating the earlier "Huit scènes de Faust". On his return to Paris, the recently completed "La damnation de Faust" was premiered at the Opéra-Comique, but after two performances, the run was discontinued and the work was a popular failure [http://bartleby.com/65/be/Berlioz.html Bartleby.com] ] (perhaps due to its halfway status between opera and cantata), despite receiving generally favourable critical reviews.Cairns, David (1999, 2000). Berlioz: Servitude and Greatness, 1832-1869. Paperback, p.361-5 Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-028727-2] This left Berlioz heavily in debt [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] to the tune of 5-6000 francs.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.361-5] Becoming ever more disenchanted with his prospects in France, he wrote:

In 1847, during a seven-month visit to England, he was appointed conductor at the London Drury Lane Theatre [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] by its then-musical director, the popular French musician Louis-Antoine Jullien. He was impressed with its quality when he first heard the orchestra perform at a promenade concert.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.395] In London he also learnt that he knew far more English than he had supposed, although still did not understand half of what was said in conversation.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.395] He began writing his "Mémoires". During his stay in England, the February Revolution broke out in France. Berlioz arrived back in France in 1848, only to be informed that his father has died shortly after his return. He went back to his birthplace to mourn his father along with his sisters. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] After his return to Paris, Harriet suffered a series of strokes which left her almost paralysed. Berlioz paid for four servants to look after her on a permanent basis and visited her almost daily. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] He began composition of his "Te Deum".

In 1850 he became Head Librarian at the Paris Conservatoire, the only official post he would ever hold, and a valuable source of income. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] During this year Berlioz also conducted an experiment on his many vocal critics. He composed a work entitled the "Shepherd's Farewell" and performed it in two concertsBerlioz/Cairns - Memoirs p.527] under the guise of it being by a composer named Pierre Ducré. This composer was of course a fictional construct by Berlioz. [http://www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=c&p=c&a=b&ID=44 HumanitiesWeb.org] ] The trick worked, and the critics praised the work by 'Ducré' and claimed it was an example that Berlioz would do well to follow. "Berlioz could never do that!", he recounts in his Mémoires, was one of the comments.Berlioz/Cairns - Memoirs p.527] Berlioz later incorporated the piece into "La fuite en Egypte" from "L'enfance du Christ". [http://groups.msn.com/CompletelyBerlioz/biography.msnw Completely Berlioz] ] In 1852, Liszt revived "Benvenuto Cellini" [http://www.nndb.com/people/847/000024775/ NNDB.com] ] in what was to become the "Weimar version" of the opera, containing modifications made with the approval of Berlioz.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.494] The performances were the first since the disastrous premiere of 1838. Berlioz travelled to London in the following year to stage it at Theatre Royal, Covent Garden but withdrew it after one performance due to the hostile reception. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] It was during this visit that he witnessed a charity performance involving six thousand five hundred children singing in St Paul's Cathedral. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/mwright.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Harriet Smithson died in 1854. "L'enfance du Christ" was completed later that year and was well-received upon its premiere. Unusually for a late Berlioz work, it appears to have remained popular long after his death. [http://bartleby.com/65/be/Berlioz.html Bartleby.com] ] In October, Berlioz married Marie Recio. In a letter written to his son, he said that having lived with her for so long, it was his duty to do so. In early 1855 "Le Retour à la vie" was revised and renamed "Lélio". Shortly afterwards, the "Te Deum" received its premiere with Berlioz conducting. During a short visit to London, Berlioz had a long conversation with Wagner over dinner. A second edition of "Treatise on Instrumentation" was also published, with a new chapter detailing aspects of conducting. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ]

thumb|left|Photograph of Berlioz by Nadar, January 1857]

"Les Troyens"

In 1856 Berlioz visited Weimar where he attended a performance of "Benvenuto Cellini", conducted by Liszt. His time with Liszt also highlighted Berlioz's increasing lack of appreciation for Wagner's music, much to Liszt's annoyance.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.587-8]

Berlioz was convinced by Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein - with whom he had corresponded for some time - that he should begin to compose a new opera. This work would eventually become "Les Troyens", [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] a monumental grand opera with a libretto (which he wrote himself) based on Books Two and Four of Virgil's "Aeneid".The idea of creating an opera based on the Aeneid had already been in his mind several years, [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] by the time Sayn-Wittgenstein had approached him, and despite a long disillusionment, his creative flame seems to have remained lit. "Les Troyens" proved to be a very personal work for Berlioz, as it paid homage to his first literary love, whom he still cherished- even after his discoveries of Shakespeare and Goethe.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.591] The opera was planned around five acts, similar in size to the grand opera of Meyerbeer. It was composed with the Paris Opéra in mind, a most prestigious venue. Berlioz’s chances of securing a production in which his work would receive attention equal to its merits were negligible from the start – a fact he must have been aware of.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.591] [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] Despite these grim prospects, Berlioz saw the work through to its completion in 1858.

The onset of an intestinal illness which would plague Berlioz for the rest of his life had now become apparent to him. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] During a visit to Baden-Baden, Edouard Bénazet commissioned a new opera from Berlioz. The opera was never written due to the onset of illness, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] but two years later Berlioz wrote "Béatrice et Bénédict" for him instead, which was accepted. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] In 1860 the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris agreed to stage "Les Troyens", only to reject it next year. It was soon picked up again by the Paris Opéra. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] "Béatrice et Bénédict" was completed on February 25, 1862.

Marie Recio, Berlioz's wife, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on June 13 at the age of 48. Berlioz met a young woman called Amélie [http://groups.msn.com/CompletelyBerlioz/theazofberlioz.msnw Completely Berlioz] ] at Montmartre Cemetery, and though she was only 24, they developed a close relationship. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] The first performances of "Béatrice et Bénédict" were held at Baden-Baden on 9th and August 11. The work had had extensive rehearsals for many months, and despite problems Berlioz found in making the musicians play as delicately as he would like, and even discovering that the orchestra pit was too small before the premiere, the work was a success.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.682] Berlioz later remarked that his conducting was much improved due to the considerable pain he was in on the day, allowing him to be "emotionally detached" and "less excitable".Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.682] Béatrice was sung by Madame Charton-Demeur. Both she and her husband were staunch supporters of Berlioz's music, and she was present at Berlioz's deathbed. "Les Troyens" was dropped by the Paris Opéra with the excuse that it was too expensive to stage; it was replaced by Wagner's Tannhäuser. [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] The work was attacked by his opponents for its length and demands, and with memories of the failure of "Benvenuto Cellini" at the Opéra were still fresh. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] It was then accepted by the new director of the recently re-built Théâtre-Lyrique. In 1863 Berlioz published his last signed article for the "Journal des Débats". [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] After resigning, an act which should have raised his spirits given how much he detested his job, his disillusionment became even stronger. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] He also busied himself judging entrants for the Prix de Rome - arguing successfully for the eventual winner, the 21 year old Jules Massenet.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.699] Amélie requested that they end their relationship, which Berlioz did, to his despair. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] The staging of "Les Troyens" was fraught with difficulties when performed in a truncated form at the Théâtre-Lyrique. It was eventually premiered on November 4 and ran for 21 performances until December 20. Madame Charton-Demeur sang the role of Didon. It was first performed in Paris without cuts as recently as 2003 at the Théâtre du Châtelet, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Troyens/LesTroyens-e.htm HBerlioz.com] ]

Later years

In 1864 Berlioz was made "Officier de la Légion d’honneur". On August 22, Berlioz heard from a friend that Amélie, who had been suffering from poor health, had died at the age of 26. A week later, while walking in the Montmartre Cemetery, he discovered Amélie’s grave: she had been dead for six months. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] By now, many of Berlioz's friends and family had died, including both of his sisters. Events like these became all too common in his later life, as his continued isolation from the musical scene increased as the focus shifted to Germany. [http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/composer/berlioz.html EssentialsOfMusic.com] ] He wrote:

Berlioz met Estelle Fornier - the object of his childhood affections - in Lyon for the first time in 40 years, and began a regular correspondence with her. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Berlioz soon realised that he still longed for her, and eventually she had to inform him that there was no possibility that they could become closer than friends.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.660+6 bottom caption] By 1865, an initial printing of 1200 copies of his "Mémoires" was completed. A few copies were distributed amongst his friends, but the bulk were, slightly morbidly, stored in his office at the Paris Conservatoire, to be sold upon his death. [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] He travelled to Vienna in December 1866 to conduct the first complete performance there of "La damnation de Faust". In 1867 Berlioz's son Louis, a merchant shipping captain, died [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] of yellow fever [http://library.thinkquest.org/22673/berlioz.html Think Quest] ] in Havana. [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] After learning this, Berlioz burnt a large number of documents and other mementos which he had accumulated during his life, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] keeping only a conducting baton given to him by Mendelssohn and a guitar given to him by Paganini. [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] He then wrote his will. The intestinal pains had been gradually increasing, and had now spread to his stomach, and whole days were passed in agony. At times he experienced spasms in the street so intense that he could barely move.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.754] Later that year he embarked on his second concert tour of Russia, which would also be his last of any kind. The tour was extremely lucrative for him, so much so that Berlioz turned down an offer of 100,000 francs from American Steinway to perform in New York. [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] In Saint Petersburg, Berlioz experienced a special pleasure at performing with the "first-rate" orchestra of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0075685/bio IMDb] ] He returned to Paris in 1868, exhausted, with his health damaged due to the Russian winter. [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ] He immediately travelled to Nice to recuperate in the Mediterranean climate, but slipped on some rocks by the sea shore, possibly due to a stroke, and had to return to Paris, where he lived as an invalid. [http://home.vicnet.net.au/~bard/Berlioz%20and%20Shakespeare.htm Berlioz and Shakespeare] ]

On March 8, 1869, [http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/berlioz.htm Matthew B. Tepper] ] Berlioz died at his Paris [http://www.ipl.org/div/mushist/rom/berlioz.htm Internet Public Library] ] home, No.4 rue de Calais, at 30 minutes past midday. He was surrounded by friends at the time. His funeral was held at the recently completed Église de la TrinitéCairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.779] on March 11, and he was buried in Montmartre Cemetery with his two wives, who were exhumed and re-buried next to him. His last words were reputed to be "Enfin, on va jouer ma musique" [http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/article-imprim.php3?id_article=19681 French gov Ministry for Foreign Affairs] ] [http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/031210-NL-Berlioz.html Scena.org] ] [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19991128/ai_n14270663 FindArticles.com] ] (They are finally going to play my music). From any other composer, these would be suspected to be apocryphal, but with Berlioz one cannot be so sure.Fact|date=January 2008

Berlioz as a conductor

Berlioz's work as a conductor was highly influential [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19991128/ai_n14270663 FindArticles.com] ] and brought him fame across Europe. [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] [http://www.karadar.it/Dictionary/berlioz.html Karadar.com] ] He was considered by Charles Hallé, Hans von Bülow and others to be the greatest conductor of his era.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.100] Berlioz initially began conducting due to frustrations over the inability of other conductors - more used to performing older and simpler music - to master his advanced and progressive works,Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.99] with their extended melodies [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19991128/ai_n14270663 FindArticles.com] ] and rhythmic complexity. [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-8194 Encyclopædia Britannica] ] He began with more enthusiasm than mastery,Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.99] and was not formally trained,Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.99] but through perseverance his skills improved. He was also willing to take advice from others, as evidenced by Spontini criticising his early use of large gestures while conducting.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.100] One year later, according to Hallé, his movements were much more economical, enabling him to control more nuance in the music.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.100] His expert understanding of the way the sound of each instrument interacts with each other (demonstrated in his "Treatise on Instrumentation") was attested to by the critic Louis Engel, who mentions how Berlioz once noticed, amidst an orchestral tutti, a minute pitch difference between two clarinets.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.100] Engel offers an explanation of Berlioz's ability to detect such things as in part due to the sheer nervous energy he was experiencing during conducting.p.100]

Despite this talent, Berlioz never held an employed position of conductor during his lifetime, forced to be content with only guest conducting. This was almost not the case. In late 1835, he was approached by the management of a new concert hall in Paris, the Gymnase Musical, and offered a position as their musical director.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.101] To Berlioz this was an ideal opportunity. Not only would it give him a large annual salary (between 6000 to 12,000 francs),Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.101] but it would also give him a platform from which to perform his own music, and the music of fellow progressives. Berlioz accepted the offer, and signed the contract for the position.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.101] However, a new decree issued by the revolutionary government forced him to change his mind. The obstacle was one of the many restrictions that the revolutionary government had placed on the running of musical establishments, forbidding the performance of vocal music,Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.101] so they did not compete with the influential Paris Opéra (among other organisations). There were passionate arguments and attempts to circumvent this restriction, but they fell on deaf ears, and the Gymnase Musical became a dance hall instead.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.101] This left Berlioz dejected, and would prove to have been a crucial cross-roads in his life, forcing him to work long hours as a critic, which severely impaired his free time available for composition.

From then on, he conducted at many different occasions, but mainly during grand tours of various countries where he was paid handsomely for visiting. In particular, towards the end of his life, he made a lot of money by touring Russia twice, the final visit proving extremely lucrative and also being the final conducting tour before his death. This enabled him not only to perform his music to a wider audience, but also to increase his influence across Europe - for example, his orchestration was studied by many Russian composers. Not just fellow hyper-Romantic Tchaikovsky, but also members of The Five are indebted to these techniques, including Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but even Modest Mussorgsky - often portrayed as uninterested in refined orchestration - revered BerliozCairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.761] and died with a copy of Berlioz's "Treatise on Instrumentation" on his bed. [http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/031210-NL-Berlioz.html Scena.org] ] Similarly, his conducting technique as described by contemporary sources appears to set the groundwork for the clarity and precision favoured in the French School of conducting right up to the present, exemplified by such figures as Pierre Monteux, Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht, Paul Paray, Charles Münch, André Cluytens, Pierre Boulez and Charles Dutoit.


Although neglected in France for much of the 19th century, the music of Berlioz has often been cited as extremely influential in the development of the symphonic form, [http://www.mascagni.org/articles/mascagni-1901-century Mascagni.org] ] instrumentation, [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2768351.stm BBC News] ] and the depiction in music of programmatic and literary ideas, features central to musical Romanticism. He was considered extremely progressive for his day, and he, Wagner, and Liszt have been called the "Great Trinity of Progress" of 19th century Romanticism.Fact|date=November 2007 Richard Pohl, the German critic in Schumann's musical journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, called Berlioz "the true pathbreaker".Fact|date=August 2007 Liszt was an enthusiastic performer and supporter, and Wagner himself, 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." Fact|date=August 2007 As Wagner here implies, Berlioz himself was indifferent to the idea of what was called "la musique du passé" (music of the past), and clearly influenced both Liszt and Wagner (and other forward-looking composers) although he increasingly began to dislike many of their works.Fact|date=August 2007 Wagner's remark also suggests the strong ethnocentrism characteristic of European composers of the time on both sides of the Rhine. Berlioz not only influenced Wagner through his orchestration and breaking of conventional forms, but also in his use of the idée fixe in the "Symphonie fantastique" which foreshadows the leitmotif. [http://filmsound.org/gustavo/leitmotif-revisted.htm FilmSound.org] ] [http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1355 The Literary Encyclopedia] ] Liszt came to see Berlioz not only as a composer to support, but also to learn from, considering Berlioz an ally in his aim for "A renewal of music through its closer union with poetry".Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.470]

During his centenary in 1903, while receiving attention from all leading musical reference books, he was still not generally accepted as being one of the great composers. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/mwright.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Some of his music was still in neglect and his following was smaller than other, mainly German, composers. Even half a century did not change much, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/mwright.htm HBerlioz.com] ] and it took until the 1960s for the right questions to be asked about his work, and for it to be viewed in a more balanced and sympathetic light. One of the pivotal events in this fresh ignition of interest in the composer was a performance of "Les Troyens" by Rafael Kubelík in 1957 at Covent Garden. [http://kbaq.org/programs/saturdayopera/07218 KBAQ.org] ] The music of Berlioz enjoyed a revival during the 1960s and 1970s, due in large part to the efforts of French conductor Charles Münch and of British conductor Sir Colin Davis, who recorded his entire oeuvre, bringing to light a number of Berlioz's lesser-known works. An unusual (but telling) example of the increase of Berlioz's fame in the 60s was an explosion of forged autographs, manuscripts, and letters, evidently created to cater for a much greater interest in the composer. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/rmacnutt.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Davis's recording of "Les Troyens" was the first near-complete recording of that work. The work, which Berlioz never saw staged in its entirety during his life, is now a part of the international repertoire, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Troyens/LesTroyens-e.htm HBerlioz.com] ] if still something of a rarity. "Les Troyens" was the first opera performed at the newly built Opéra Bastille in Paris on March 17, 1990 in a production claimed to be complete, but lacking the ballets. [http://kbaq.org/programs/saturdayopera/07218 KBAQ.org] ]

In 2003, the bicentenary of Berlioz's birth, his achievements and status are much more widely recognised, [http://www.iht.com/articles/2000/04/28/berlioz.t.php International Herald Tribune] ] and his music is viewed as both serious and original, rather than an eccentric novelty. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/mwright.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Newspaper articles reported his colourful life with zeal, very many festivals dedicated to the composer were held, [http://www.hberlioz.com/events/celebrations.htm HBerlioz.com] ] [http://www.iht.com/articles/2000/04/28/berlioz.t.php International Herald Tribune] ] readings of his books [http://berlioz.50webs.com/ The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz: a Radio Series in Twenty-one Half-hour Parts] ] and a French dramatised television biography [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0844016/ IMDb.com] ] all helped to create a lot of exposure to the composer's life and music - far more than the previous centenary anniversary. Numerous recording projects were begun or reissued, [http://www.hberlioz.com/music/discs.htm HBerlioz.com] ] and broadcasts of his music increased. [http://www.hberlioz.com/events/celebrations.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Prominent Berlioz conductor Colin Davis had already been in the process of recording much of Berlioz's music on the LSO Live label, and has continued this project to this date with a "L'enfance du Christ" recording issued in 2007. The internet was also a factor in the celebrations, with the comprehensive hberlioz.com site (which has been online since 1997) being an easily available source of information to anyone interested in the composer. The 'Berlioz 2003' celebrations, organised by French academic institutions, [http://www.iht.com/articles/2000/04/28/berlioz.t.php International Herald Tribune] ] also had a promenent website, listing events, publications and gatherings [http://www.iht.com/articles/2000/04/28/berlioz.t.php International Herald Tribune] ] the domain of which has now lapsed. There was also a site maintained by the Association nationale Hector Berlioz. [http://www.berlioz-anhb.com/berlioz2003/berlioz200x_festival.php4 Berlioz 2003] ] A proposal was made to remove his remains to the Panthéon, and while initially encouraged by French President Jacques Chirac, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Paris/BPPantheon.html HBerlioz.com] ] [http://www.iht.com/articles/2000/04/28/berlioz.t.php International Herald Tribune] ] it was postponed by him, claimed to be because it was too shortly after Alexandre Dumas was moved there. [http://www.npr.org/programs/pt/features/berlioz.html NPR.org] ] He may have also been influenced by a political dispute over Berlioz's worthiness as a republican, [http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/031210-NL-Berlioz.html Scena.org] ] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2768351.stm BBC News | Row mars Berlioz anniversary] ] since Berlioz, who regularly met kings and princes, had severely criticized the 1848 Revolution, speaking of the "odious and stupid republic".Fact|date=August 2007 There were also objections from supporters of Berlioz, some of whom claimed that Berlioz was an anti-establishment figure and would have no interest in such a ceremony, and that he was happy to be buried next to his two wives in the location he has been in for almost 150 years. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/2768351.stm BBC News | Row mars Berlioz anniversary] ] Since Chirac retired as President, the future of Berlioz's resting place is still unclear. [http://www.npr.org/programs/pt/features/berlioz.html NPR.org] ]



Berlioz had a keen affection for literature, and many of his best compositions are inspired by literary works. For "Symphonie fantastique", Berlioz was inspired in part by Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. For "La damnation de Faust", Berlioz drew on Goethe's "Faust"; for "Harold en Italie", he drew on Byron's "Childe Harold"; for "Benvenuto Cellini", he drew on Cellini's own autobiography. For "Roméo et Juliette", Berlioz turned, of course, to Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". For his magnum opus, the monumental opera "Les Troyens", Berlioz turned to Virgil's epic poem "The Aeneid". In his last opera, the comic opera "Béatrice et Bénédict", Berlioz prepared a libretto based loosely on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing". His composition "Tristia" (for orchestra and chorus) drew its inspiration from Shakespeare's Hamlet.


In 1827, Berlioz watched Irish actress Harriet Smithson at the Odéon theatre playing Ophelia and Juliet in "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare. This led to two intense infatuations. One was to Smithson, which would result in a disastrous marriage. The other was to Shakespeare, which would become a lifelong love. [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] He followed the rest of the 1827 season closely, until the company moved to the Salle Favart, and began learning the plays from pocket translations on sale. [Holomon, 46.] Though the performances were in English, of which Berlioz knew virtually none, he was still able to grasp the grandeur and sublimnity of Shakespeare's language along with the richness of the plays' dramatic design.MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:581.]

The timing for these performances, not just for Berlioz' career but also for French Romanticism in general, could not have been more apt. Berlioz was on the verge of producing his most Romantic works—as were the writers Vigny, Dumas, Gautier and several others in attendance that night. Shakespeare served as a model for French Romanticism, [Holomon, 45.] with Hugo extolling Shakespeare as a challenge to French classicism and the model for the new Romantic theater.MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:581.]

Shakespeare for Berlioz represented the summit of poetic utterance, with the bard's veracity of dramatic expression and freedom from formal constraints resounding in the composer's spirit. More profoundly, Shakespeare became a source, by way of its dramatic truth, for Berlioz' fundamental notion of expressive truth;MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:581.] this was how he could call "Romeo and Juliet" "the supreme drama of my life." [Quoted in Holomon, 46.] He read from the plays constantly, often aloud for anyone who would listen. He quoted from them for the rest for the rest of his life and would associate any personal upheaval with its Shakespearian counterpart. [Holomon, 93.]

Berlioz was especially taken with Shakespeare's ability to pinpoint the heart of a dramatic conflict and penetrating the secrets of intense love. These secrets, Berlioz suggested in the text of "Roméo and Juliette" the playwright took with him to heaven. Time and again through the years, Berlioz would distill the favorite image of a play and distill it into musical terms. "Roméo et Juliette" may have been the first. Later came "The Tempest", "King Lear", a funeral march for the final scene in "Hamlet", the love scene for "Les Troyens" (which, some claim, Berlioz took from "The Merchant of Venice"), and "Béatrice and Benedict". [Holomon, 92-=93.]


Berlioz discovered Goethe's "Faust" through Gérard de Nerval's translation, published in December 1827. Its impact on Berlioz was, again, profound and immediate, with the Faustian concept of man striking several chords with the composer. He described Shakespeare and Goethe in an 1828 letter as "the silent confidants of my suffering; they hold the key to my life." [MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:582.] In any event, Shakespearian tragedy and Faustian mystique became of one type in his mind. [Holomon, 92.]

The Romantics

Simultaneous with Berlioz' discovery of Shakespeare was his immersion in the texts of true Romanticism. These included the works of Moore, Scott and Byron. All three inspired Berlioz to compose works based on theirs. He also immersed himself in Chateaubriand, E.T.A. Hoffmann, James Fenimore Cooper and his compatriots Hugo, Vigny, de Musset and Nerval. He later added Balzac, Flaubert and Gautier to his list of favorites; he also used Gautier's poems as texts for his song cycle "Les nuits d'eté'." [MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:582-3.]

Perhaps as a result of this reading and seeing himself as an archetypical tragic hero, Berlioz began to weave personal references into his music. It may in fact have been his love for Shakespeare, shared with the other young artist-heroes of 19th-century France, that drew Berlioz firmly into the brotherhood of Romanticism.



Berlioz writes in his "Memoirs", quote|In an artist's life one thunderclap sometimes follows swiftly on another ... I had just had the successive revelations of Beethoven and Weber. Now at another point on the horizon I saw the giant form of Beethoven rear up. the shock was almost as great as that of Shakespeare had been. Beethoven opened before me a new world of music, as Shakespeare had revealed a new universe of poetry."Memoirs", 104.]

He was able to hear Beethoven's works through the performances of the Société des Concerts do Conservatoire, an orchestra founded by François-Antoine Haberneck and his colleagues to promote modern orchestral music. The inaugural concert, on 9 March 1828, featured the French premiere of the "Eroica" Symphony. [Holoman, 48.] Despite protests from French and Italian composers,"Memoirs", 104.] by the end of the first season Haberneck and the orchestra had also performed the Fifth Symphony, the Third Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto as well as other works. [Holoman, 48-49.]

For Berlioz the experience of hearaing the "Eroica" brought the last and greatest revelation of the power of instrumental music as an expressive language, along with the freedom of action with which it could be expressive. [Cairns, 1:265.] He understood at once that the symphony was a dramatic form to an extene that he had not previously realized, [Cairns, 1:265-6.] and that in Beethoven he saw a way to the dramatic manner in which he desired to compose.

Most tellingly, hearing the "Eroica" inspired Berlioz to widen his horizons for the first time past opera and other vocal works and consider the expressive power of purely instrumental music.MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:582.] Previously, he had adhered to Le Sueur's belief that symphonic music was a lesser, limited form of composition that had been taken by Mozart and Haydn as far as possible. [Cairns, 1:261.] He would find instrumental music to be far more penetrating in expression and articulation than vocal setting.MacDonald, "New Grove", 2:582.] "Now that I have heard that terrifying giant Beethoven," he wrote, "I know exactly where my musical art stands; the question is to take it from there and push it further." [Quoted in Holoway, 93.]

Other composers

Next to those of Beethoven, Berlioz showed deep reverence for the works of Gluck, Mozart, Étienne Méhul, Carl Maria von Weber and Gaspare Spontini, as well as respect for those of Rossini, Meyerbeer and Verdi.

Curiously perhaps, the adventures in chromaticism of his prominent contemporaries and associates Frédéric Chopin and Richard Wagner seemed to have little effect on Berlioz's style.


:See also|List of works by Hector Berlioz

Musical works

The five movement "Symphonie fantastique", partly due to its fame, is considered by most to be Berlioz's most outstanding work, [http://www.hberlioz.com/Scores/sfantastique.htm HBerlioz.com] ] and the work had a considerable impact when first performed in 1830, but 3 years after the death of Beethoven and 2 years after that of Schubert. [http://www.ipl.org/div/mushist/rom/berlioz.htm Internet Public Library] ] [http://www.its.caltech.edu/~tan/Berliozreq/ Caltech] ] It is famous for its innovations in the form of the programmatic symphony. The story behind this work relates to Berlioz himself and can be considered somewhat autobiographical. [http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/milestones/990716.motm.symphfan.html NPR.org] ]

In addition to the "Symphonie fantastique", some other orchestral works of Berlioz currently in the standard orchestral repertoire include his "légende dramatique" "La damnation de Faust" and "symphonie dramatique" "Roméo et Juliette" (both large-scale works for mixed voices and orchestra), and his concertante symphony (for viola and orchestra) "Harold en Italie", several concert overtures also remain enduringly popular, such as "Le Corsaire" and "Le Carnaval romain". Amongst his more vocally-oriented works, the song cycle "Les nuits d'été" and the oratorio "L'enfance du Christ" have retained enduring appeal, as have the quasi-liturgical "Te Deum" and "Grande Messe des morts".

The unconventional music of Berlioz irritated the established concert and opera [http://www.andante.com/profiles/Berlioz/berliozgrove.cfm Andante.com] ] scene. Berlioz often had to arrange for his own performances as well as pay for them himself. This took a heavy toll on him financiallyCairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.361-5] and emotionally. The nature of his large works - sometimes involving hundreds of performers [http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/append-d.htm Matthew B. Tepper] ] - made financial success difficult. His journalistic abilities became essential for him to make a living and he survived as a witty critic, [http://www.naxos.com/composerinfo/99.htm Naxos Records] ] emphasizing the importance of drama and expressivity in musical entertainment. It was perhaps this expense which prevented Berlioz from composing more opera than he did. His talent in the genre is obvious, but opera is the most expensive of all classical forms, and Berlioz in particular struggled to arrange stagings of his operas, due in part to the unwillingness of conservative Paris opera companies to perform his work. [http://www.carringbush.net/~pml/music/berlioz/ CarringBush.net] ]

* [http://hdl.handle.net/1802/2691 Benvenuto Cellini. Ouverture, for piano and 4 hands] (From the Sibley Music Library Digital Score Collection)
* [http://hdl.handle.net/1802/4567 Carnaval romain, for piano and 4 hands] (From the Sibley Music Library Digital Score Collection)

Literary works

While Berlioz is best known as a composer, he was also a prolific writer, and supported himself for many years by writing musical criticism, utilising a bold, vigorous style, at times imperious and sarcastic. He wrote for many journals, including "Le Rénovateur", [http://www.hberlioz.com/others/Berlioz_sur_Berlioz-e.htm HBerlioz.com] ] "Journal des Débats" and "Gazette musicale".Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.95] He was active in the "Débats" for over thirty years until submitting his last signed article in 1863. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Almost from the founding, Berlioz was a key member of the editorial board of the "Gazette" as well as a contributor, and acted as editor on several occasionsCairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.96] while the owner was otherwise engaged. Berlioz took full advantage of his times as editor, allowing himself to increase his articles written on music history rather than current events, evidenced by him publishing seven articles on Gluck in the "Gazette" between June 1834 and January 1835.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.96] An example of the amount of work he produced is indicated in his producing over one-hundred articlesCairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.96] for the "Gazette" between 1833 and 1837. This is a conservative estimate, as not all of his submissions were signed.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.96] In 1835 alone, due to one of his many times of financial difficulty, he wrote four articles for the "Monde dramatique", twelve for the "Gazette", nineteen for the "Débats" and thirty-seven for the "Rénovateur".Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.85] These were not mere scribbles, but in-depth articles and reviews with little duplication,Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.85] which took considerable time to write.

Another noteworthy indicator of the importance Berlioz placed on journalistic integrity and even-handedness were the journals which he both did and did "not" write for. During the middle of the 1830s the "Gazette" was considered an intellectual journal, strongly supporting the progressive arts and Romanticism in general, and opposing anything which it considers as debasing this.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.96] Exemplified in its long-standing criticism of Henri Herz, and his seemingly endless stream of variations on opera themes, but in to its credit, it also positively reviewed his music on occasion.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.97] Its writers included Alexandre Dumas, Honoré de Balzac and George Sand.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.96] The "Gazette" wasn't even unanimous in its praise of Berlioz's music, although it always recognised him as an important and serious composer to be respected.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.97] An example of another journal of the same time is the "Revue musicale", which thrived on personal attacks, many against Berlioz himself from the pen of critic François-Joseph Fétis.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.98] At one point, Robert Schumann was motivated to publish a detailed rebuttal of one of Fétis' attacks on Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique [http://members.aol.com/ComposerScott/essays/Berlioz.html] Scott D. Farquhar] in his own Neue Zeitschrift für Musik journal.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.98] Fétis would later contribute to the debasement of the reputation of the "Gazette" when this journal failed and was absorbed by the "Gazette", he found himself on the editorial board.Cairns - Berlioz vol.2 p.98]

The books which Berlioz has become acclaimed for were compiled from his journal articles. [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] "Les Soirées de l’Orchestre" (Evenings with the Orchestra) (1852), a scathing satire [http://www.greenmanreview.com/book/book_berlioz_evenings.html GreenManReview.com] ] of provincial musical life in 19th century France, and the "Treatise on Instrumentation", a pedagogic work, were both serialised originally in the "Gazette musicale". [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/biography.htm HBerlioz.com] ] Many parts of the "Mémoires" (1870) were originally published in the "Journal des Débats", as well as "Le Monde Illustré". [http://www.hberlioz.com/Works/Memoires1858.htm HBerlioz.com] ] The "Mémoires" paint a magisterial (if biased) portrait of the Romantic era through the eyes of one of its chief protagonists. "Evenings with the Orchestra" is more overtly fictional than his other two major books, but its basis in reality is its strength, [http://www.greenmanreview.com/book/book_berlioz_evenings.html GreenManReview.com] ] making the stories it recounts all the funnier due to the ring of truth. W. H. Auden praises it, saying "To succeed in [writing these tales] , as Berlioz most brilliantly does, requires a combination of qualities which is very rare, the many-faceted curiosity of the dramatist with the aggressively personal vision of the lyric poet." [http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/11988.ctl University of Chigago Press] ] The "Treatise" established his reputation as a master of orchestration. [http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/berlioz.html w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de] ] The work was closely studied by Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss and served as the foundation for a subsequent textbook by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov who as a music student attended the concerts Berlioz conducted in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. [http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/031210-NL-Berlioz.html Scena.org] ]


External links

* [http://www.hberlioz.com/ The Hector Berlioz Website] Comprehensive Berlioz reference site, including scores, analysis and libretti
* [http://www.berlioz-anhb.com Association Nationale Hector Berlioz] The French National Berlioz Society
* [http://www.festivalberlioz.com/ Festival Berlioz] Held in the birthplace of the famous classical composer Hector Berlioz, this festival commemorates the man and his work
* [http://hector.ucdavis.edu/Berlioz2003/00Home.htm The Complete Berlioz] List of works by Berlioz @ UC Davis
* [http://www.berliozsongs.co.uk/ The Berlioz Song Site] Scores and texts of Berlioz songs for voice and piano
* [http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/search.php?query=Berlioz&queryType=%40attr+1%3D1 Berlioz cylinder recordings] , from the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara library
* [http://groups.msn.com/CompletelyBerlioz/_whatsnew.msnw Completely Berlioz] A forum and wealth of information
* [http://www.bellperc.com/pages/repertoire.php?composer=35 Berlioz's Percussion Repertoire] , from Bell Percussion's Composer Repertoire resource
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=89 Memorial Page at FindaGrave]

NAME=Berlioz, Hector
DATE OF BIRTH=1803-12-11
PLACE OF BIRTH=La Côte-Saint-André, Isère, France
DATE OF DEATH=1869-03-08

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