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Hector Berlioz

December 11, 1803 - March 8, 1869
born in La Côte-St.-André, Isère, France, composed during the Romantic period
Berlioz, the passionate, ardent, irrepressible genius of French Romanticism, left a rich and original oeuvre which exerted a profound influence on nineteenth century music. Berlioz developed a profound affinity toward music and literature as a child. Sent to Paris at 17 to study medicine, he was enchanted by Gluck's operas, firmly deciding to become a composer. With his father's reluctant consent, Berlioz entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1826. His originality was already apparent and disconcerting -- a competition cantata, Cléopâtre (1829), looms as his first sustained masterpiece -- and he won the Prix de Rome in 1830 amid the turmoil of the July Revolution. Meanwhile, a performance of Hamlet in September 1827, with Harriet Smithson as Ophelia, provoked an overwhelming but unrequited passion, whose aftermath may be heard in the Symphonie fantastique (1830).

Returning from Rome, Berlioz organized a concert in 1832, featuring his symphony. Harriet Smithson was in the audience. They were introduced days later and married on October 3, 1833.

Berlioz settled into a career pattern which he maintained for more than a decade, writing reviews, organizing concerts, and composing a series of visionary masterpieces: Harold en Italie (1834), the monumental Requiem (1837), and an opera, Benvenuto Cellini (1838), a crushing fiasco. At year's end, the dying Paganini made Berlioz a gift of 20,000 francs, enabling him to devote nearly a year to the composition of his "dramatic symphony," Roméo et Juliette (1839). And then, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the July Revolution, came the Symphonie funèbre et triomphale (1840).

Iridescently scored, an exquisite collection of six Gautier settings, Les nuits d'été, opened the new decade. This was a difficult time for Berlioz, as his marriage failed to bring him the happiness he desired. Concert tours to Brussels, many German cities, Vienna, Pesth, Prague, and London occupied him through most of the 1840s. He composed La Damnation de Faust, en route, offering the new work to a half-empty house in Paris, December 6, 1846. Expenses were catastrophic, and only a successful concert tour to St. Petersburg saved him.

He sat out the revolutionary upheavals of 1848 in London, returning to Paris in July. The massive Te Deum -- a "little brother" to the Requiem -- was largely composed over 1849, though it would not be heard until 1855. L'Enfance du Christ, scored an immediate and enduring success from its first performance on December 10, 1854. Elected to the Institut de France in 1855, he started receiving a members' stipend, and this provided him with a modicum of financial security. Consequently, Berlioz was able to devote himself to the summa of his career, his vast opera, Les Troyens, based on Virgil's Aeneid, the Roman poet's unfinished epic masterpiece. The opera was completed in 1858. As he negotiated for its performance, he composed a comique adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, which met with a rapturous Baden première, on August 9, 1862. Unfortunately, only the third, fourth, and fifth acts of Les Troyens were mounted by the Théatre-Lyrique, a successful premiere, on November 4, 1863, and a run of 21 performances notwithstanding. This lopsided production stemmed from a compromise (bitterly regretted by the composer) that Berlioz had made with the Théâtre-Lyrique.

Though frail and ailing, Berlioz conducted his works in Vienna and Cologne in 1866, traveling to St. Petersburg and Moscow in the winter of 1867-1868. Despondent and tortured by self-doubt, the composer received a triumphant welcome in Russia. Back in Paris in March 1868, he was but a walking shadow as paralysis slowly overcame him. ~ Adrian Corleonis, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Berlioz - Les Troyens

Disc 1
Title: Les Troyens, Opera, H. 133a
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
x

Track List: Berlioz: Complete Orchestral Works

Disc 1
Title: Symphonie Fantastique For Orchestra ("Episode De La Vie D'un Artiste...en Cinq Parties"), H.48 (Op. 14)
Title: Tristia, For Chorus & Orchestra (or Piano), H. 119 (Op. 18)
Title: La Damnation De Faust, For Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Chorus And Orchestra, ("Légende Dramatique") H. 111 (Op. 24)
Disc 2
Title: Lélio, Ou Le Retour À La Vie, For 2 Sopranos, Alto, 3 Tenors, 3 Basses, Chorus & Orchestra ("monodrame Lyrique"), H. 55 (Op. 14bis)
Title: Symphonie Funèbre Et Triomphale, For Band, Strings & Chorus Ad Lib, H. 80 (Op. 15)
Disc 3
Title: Harold En Italie (Harold In Italy), Symphony For Viola & Orchestra, H. 68 (Op. 16)
Title: Les Troyens, Opera, H. 133a
Title: Rêverie Et Caprice For Violin & Orchestra ("romance"), H.88 (Op. 8)
Disc 4
Title: Roméo Et Juliette, For Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus & Orchestra ("symphonie Dramatique"), H.79 (Op. 17)
Disc 5
Disc 6
Title: Béatrice Et Bénédict, Opera, H. 138
Title: Benvenuto Cellini, Opera, H. 76a, Op. 23
Title: King Lear Overture (Grande Ouverture Du Roi Lear), For Orchestra, H. 53 (Op. 4)
Title: Grande Ouverture Des Francs-Juges, For Orchestra, H. 23d
Title: Waverly Overture (Grande Ouverture De Waverly) For Orchestra, H. 26 (Op. 1)
Title: Le Corsaire, Overture For Orchestra, H. 101 (Op. 21)
Title: Le Carnival Romain (Roman Carnival Overture), Ouverture Catactéristique For Orchestra, H.95 (Op. 9)
x

Track List: Berlioz: La Marseillase; Love Scene From Romeo & Juliet; Three Excerpts From The Damnation Of Faust

Title: Benvenuto Cellini, Opera, H. 76a, Op. 23
Title: Roméo Et Juliette, For Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus & Orchestra ("symphonie Dramatique"), H.79 (Op. 17)
Title: La Damnation De Faust, For Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Chorus And Orchestra, ("Légende Dramatique") H. 111 (Op. 24)
Title: Le Corsaire, Overture For Orchestra, H. 101 (Op. 21)
Title: Les Troyens, Opera, H. 133a
Title: Hymne Des Marseillais, For Chorus & Large Orchestra (or Piano; After Rouget De Lisle), H. 51
x

Track List: The Berlioz Experience [Box Set]

Disc 1
Title: Symphonie Fantastique For Orchestra ("Episode De La Vie D'un Artiste...en Cinq Parties"), H.48 (Op. 14)
Title: Overture To "Benvenuto Cellini" (Grande Ouverture De Benvenuto Cellini) For Orchestra, H. 76b (Op. 23)
Title: Le Corsaire, Overture For Orchestra, H. 101 (Op. 21)
Title: Les Troyens, Opera, H. 133a
Disc 2
Title: Harold En Italie (Harold In Italy), Symphony For Viola & Orchestra, H. 68 (Op. 16)
Title: Le Carnival Romain (Roman Carnival Overture), Ouverture Catactéristique For Orchestra, H.95 (Op. 9)
Title: Roméo Et Juliette, For Alto, Tenor, Bass, Chorus & Orchestra ("symphonie Dramatique"), H.79 (Op. 17)
Disc 3
Disc 4
Title: Requiem (Grande Messe Des Morts), For Tenor, Chorus & Orchestra, H. 75 (Op. 5)
Disc 5
Title: Te Deum, For Tenor, 3 Choruses, Brass Bands, Organ & Orchestra, H. 118 (Op. 22)
Title: Hymne Des Marseillais, For Chorus & Large Orchestra (or Piano; After Rouget De Lisle), H. 51
Disc 6
Title: La Damnation De Faust, For Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Chorus And Orchestra, ("Légende Dramatique") H. 111 (Op. 24)
Disc 7
Title: Tristia, For Chorus & Orchestra (or Piano), H. 119 (Op. 18)
Disc 8
Title: Les Nuits D'été, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), H. 81 (Op. 7)
Title: Rêverie Et Caprice For Violin & Orchestra ("romance"), H.88 (Op. 8)
Title: La Mort De Cléopâtre, For Soprano & Orchestra, H.36
Disc 9
Title: Nocturne ("Je Veux Dans L'inconstance"), For 2 Sopranos & Guitar (arr. From Unknown Work), H. 31
Title: Le Maure Jaloux ("je Vais Revoir"), For Voice & Piano, ("romance"), H. 9 (2 Versions)
Title: Amitié, Reprends Ton Empire, Song For 2 Sopranos, Baritone & Piano, H. 10b
Title: Canon Libre À La Quinte ("la Nuit De Son Voile Épais"), Song For 2 Voices & Piano, H. 14
Title: Pleure, Pauvre Colette ("Auprès De Moi Colette"), For 2 Voices & Piano, H. 11
Title: Le Montagnard Exilé ("Loin De La Sauvage Campagne"), For 2 Sopranos & Piano/harp ("chant Élégiaque"), H. 15
Title: Le Roi De Thulé, For Piano & Voice (Huit Scènes De Faust), H. 33A (Op. 1/6)
Title: Huit Scénes De Faust, For Solo Voices, Chorus, Orchestra & Guitar, H. 33 (Op. 1)
Title: Hélène ("Qui Ne Se Souvient") For Two Voices (or Male Chorus) And Piano (or Orchestra), H. 40 (Op. 2/2)
Title: Chant Guerrier, For Tenor, Male Chorus & Piano (Neuf Mélodies Irlandaises), H. 41 (Op. 2/3)
Title: La Belle Voyageuse ("Elle S'en Va"), Song For Voice & Piano (Neuf Mélodies Irlandaises), H. 42a, Op. 2/4
Title: Chanson À Boire ("Amis La Coupe Écume"), For Voice, Chorus & Piano (Neuf Mélodies Irlandaises), H. 43, Op. 2/5
Title: L' Origine De La Harpe ("Cette Harpe Chérie") For Soprano Or Tenor & Piano (Neuf Mélodies Irlandaises), H.45 (Op. 2/7)
Title: Adieu, Bessy, For Tenor & Piano ("Romance Anglaise Et Française"), H. 46a (Op. 2/8)
Title: Elégie En Prose, Song For Tenor & Piano, H. 47 (Op. 2/9)
Disc 10
Title: La Captive For Voice & Piano (or Orchestra), H. 60 (Op. 12)
Title: Sara La Baigneuse, For 2 Voices & Piano ("ballade"), H. 69 (Op. 11)
Title: Je Crois En Vous ("Quand Mon Âme Ravie"), For Voice & Piano, H. 70
Title: Chansonette De M. Léon De Wailly ("Au Levant Là-bas Est Une Île"), Song For Voice & Piano, H. 73
Title: Le Matin, Song For Mezzo-soprano Or Tenor & Piano (Fleurs Des Landes), H. 125 (Op. 13/1)
Title: Le Trébuchet, Song For 2 Voices & Piano (Fleurs Des Landes), H. 113 (Op. 13/3)
Title: Le Jeune Pâtre Breton, For Voice & Piano & Horn Ad Lib (Fleurs Des Landes), H. 65 (Op. 13/4)
Title: Le Chant Des Bretons, Song For Tenor (or Male Chorus) & Piano (Fleurs Des Landes), H. 71 (Op. 13/5)
Title: La Mort D'Ophélie, Song For Soprano (or Tenor) & Piano, H. 92a (Op. 18/2)
Title: Zaïde, Boléro For Voice, Castsnets & Piano Or Orchestra (Feuillets D'album), H. 107 (Op. 19/1)
Title: Les Champs, For Voice & Piano (Feuillets D'album), H. 67 (Op. 19/2)
Title: Prière Du Matin ("O Père Qu'adore Mon Père"), For Children's Chorus & Piano, H. 112
Title: La Belle Isabeau, Song For Voice & Piano, ("conte Pendant L'orange"; First Version), H. 94
Title: Le Chasseur Danois, For Baritone & Piano (or Orchestra), H. 104

Comments

deax90
Berlioz is a vastly underrated composer. "March to the Scaffold" from symphonie fantastique is right up there with modern epic movie music. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Star Wars.
morgan98169
I fell in love with Hector Berliozs music when my high school band played march to the scaffold from symphony fantastique for I spring concert. After that I was hooked!!!!!
The symphony I'm in is playing March Hongroise from The Damnation of Faust right now. Berlioz is definitely my favorite Romantic composer as of now! :D
My beloved late husband's name was Hector, & he loved this beautiful music~~~he could play several instruments, & he loved every other kind of music 2, some of which I'd never heard of!!! I think of him,smiling down @ me from Heaven, with each station I put on here.....¡ Muchas gracias, AMOR ETERNO !!! & God bless Pandora :-)!!!
I luv Berlioz 4 his fantastique musique,& 4 him being quite possibly manic depressive (like me & my other 42 personalites - e x c e p t 4 #27, who's just an ordinary grouch) & his 1st name,Hector. I like the name 'Hector'! & 4 his gorgeous music,which takes me awaaaaaaay.. . . . . . .
And/or Romantic music @fcassini1
fcassini1
Requiem is a must listen if you are serious about classical music.
panster
So Berloiz rulz, does Berlioz Rule? I think so.
When our orchestra played "Symphony Fantastique" chills ran up-and-down my spine. WOW!
He's a pretty good composer :)
I've always been half-hearted about Berlioz. Perhaps I just need to hear more of his music...
jwkarsten
Hard to imagine this biographer outlining Berlioz and his life's work without referencing the "Symphonie Fantastique" Must be a vocalist!
nah mah boy hector just has to look hard in his mugshot. how he does
klosnj11
Yeah! Berloiz rulz!
...guess wasn't cool for portrait photographer s to put on the nose glasses and arrow thru' head to help with smiles.

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