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During Berlioz's German tour in , Liszt and his companion, Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein , encouraged Berlioz's tentative conception of an opera based on the Aeneid. He worked on it, in between his conducting commitments, for two years. In he was elected to the Institut de France , an honour he had long sought, though he played down the importance he attached to it. He then spent five years trying to have it staged. In June Berlioz's wife died suddenly, aged She was survived by her mother, to whom Berlioz was devoted, and who looked after him for the rest of his life.

The only way he could find of seeing the work produced was to divide it into two parts: The experience demoralised Berlioz, who wrote no more music after this. Berlioz did not seek a revival of Les Troyens and none took place for nearly 30 years. He sold the publishing rights for a large sum, and his last years were financially comfortable; [] he was able to give up his work as a critic, but he lapsed into depression. As well as losing both his wives, he had lost both his sisters, [n 15] and he became morbidly aware of death as many of his friends and other contemporaries died.

After the death of his second wife, Berlioz had two romantic interludes. Almost nothing is known of their relationship, which lasted for less than a year. Berlioz was unaware of it until he came across her grave six months later. Cairns hypothesises that the shock of her death prompted him to seek out his first love, Estelle, now a widow aged In Berlioz received the news that his son had died in Havana of yellow fever.

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Macdonald suggests that Berlioz may have sought distraction from his grief by going ahead with a planned series of concerts in St Petersburg and Moscow, but far from rejuvenating him, the trip sapped his remaining strength. In his book The Musical Language of Berlioz , Julian Rushton asks "where Berlioz comes in the history of musical forms and what is his progeny". Rushton's answers to these questions are "nowhere" and "none".

Rushton suggests that "Berlioz's way is neither architectural nor developmental, but illustrative". He judges this to be part of a continuing French musical aesthetic, favouring a "decorative" — rather than the German "architectural" — approach to composition. Abstraction and discursiveness are alien to this tradition, and in operas, and to a large extent in orchestral music, there is little continuous development; instead self-contained numbers or sections are preferred.

Berlioz's compositional techniques have been strongly criticised and equally strongly defended. He explained his practice in an article: Berlioz's approach to harmony and counterpoint was idiosyncratic, and has provoked adverse criticism. Pierre Boulez commented, "There are awkward harmonies in Berlioz that make one scream". Rushton observes that Berlioz's preference for irregular rhythm subverts conventional harmony: Even among those unsympathetic to his music, few deny that Berlioz was a master of orchestration. The pedal point for trombones in the "Hostias" section of the Requiem is often cited; some musicians such as Gordon Jacob have found the effect unpleasant.

Macdonald has questioned Berlioz's fondness for divided cellos and basses in dense, low chords, although he emphasises that such contentious points are rare compared with "the felicities and masterstrokes" abounding in the scores. Macdonald mentions the harp, the cor anglais , the bass clarinet and the valve trumpet. Of Berlioz's brass he writes:. Brass can be solemn or brazen; the "Marche au supplice" in the Symphonie fantastique is a defiantly modern use of brass. Trombones introduce Mephistopheles with three flashing chords or support the gloomy doubts of Narbal in Les Troyens.

With a hiss of cymbals, pianissimo, they mark the entry of the Cardinal in Benvenuto Cellini and the blessing of little Astyanax by Priam in Les Troyens. Berlioz wrote four large-scale works he called symphonies, but his conception of the genre differed greatly from the classical pattern of the German tradition. All four of Berlioz's symphonies differ from the contemporary norm.

The first, the Symphonie fantastique , is purely orchestral, and the opening movement is broadly in sonata form, [] [n 19] but the work tells a story, graphically and specifically.

Harold in Italy , despite its subtitle "Symphony in four parts with viola principal", is described by the musicologist Mark Evan Bonds as a work traditionally seen as lacking any direct historical antecedent, "a hybrid of symphony and concerto that owes little or nothing to the earlier, lighter genre of the symphonie concertante ". Felix Weingartner , an early 20th century champion of the composer, wrote in that it did not reach the level of the Symphonie fantastique ; [] fifty years later Edward Sackville-West and Desmond Shawe-Taylor found it "romantic and picturesque Berlioz at his best".

The episodes of Shakespeare's drama are represented in orchestral music, interspersed with expository and narrative sections for voices. Weingartner called it "a style-less mixture of different forms; not quite oratorio, not quite opera, not quite symphony — fragments of all three, and nothing perfect". The last of the four symphonies is the Symphonie funebre et triomphale , for giant brass and woodwind band , with string parts added later, together with optional chorus. The structure is more conventional than the instrumentation: None of Berlioz's three completed operas were written to commission, and theatre managers were not enthusiastic about staging them.

Cairns writes that unlike Meyerbeer, who was rich, influential, and deferred to by opera managements, Berlioz was "an opera composer on sufferance, one who composed on borrowed time paid for with money that was not his but lent by a wealthy friend". The three operas contrast strongly with one another. The epic Les Troyens is described by the musical scholar James Haar as "incontestably Berlioz's masterpiece", [] a view shared by many other writers.

Holoman describes the poetry of the libretto as old fashioned for its day, but effective and at times beautiful. Although the work plays for five hours including intervals it is no longer the normal practice to present it across two evenings. Les Troyens , in Holoman's view, embodies the composer's artistic creed: He described it as "a caprice written with the point of a needle".

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It accepts life as it is. The opera is a divertissement, not a grand statement". La damnation de Faust , although not written for the theatre, is sometimes staged as an opera. Berlioz gained a reputation, only partly justified, for liking gigantic orchestral and choral forces. In France there was a tradition of open-air performance, dating from the Revolution , calling for larger ensembles than were needed in the concert hall. What Macdonald calls Berlioz's monumental manner is more prominent in the Te Deum, composed in and first heard in , when it was given in connection with the Exposition Universelle.

By that time the composer had added to its two choruses a part for massed children's voices, inspired by hearing a choir of 6, children singing in St Paul's Cathedral during his London trip in La damnation de Faust , though conceived as a work for the concert hall, did not achieve success in France until it was staged as an opera long after the composer's death. L'enfance du Christ — follows the pattern of La damnation de Faust in mixing dramatic action and philosophic reflection.

Berlioz, after a brief youthful religious spell, was a lifelong agnostic, [] although he was not hostile to the Roman Catholic church, [] and Macdonald calls the "serenely contemplative" end of the work "the nearest Berlioz ever came to a devoutly Christian mode of expression". Berlioz wrote songs throughout his career, although not prolifically. Wotton as like "a miniature symphonic poem". The songs remain on the whole among the least known of Berlioz's works, and John Warrack suggests that Schumann identified why this might be so: Warrack also comments that the piano parts, though not lacking in harmonic interest, are discernibly written by a non-pianist.

Berlioz's literary output was considerable and mostly consists of music criticism. Some was collected and published in book form. His Treatise on Instrumentation began as a series of articles and remained a standard work on orchestration throughout the 19th century; when Richard Strauss was commissioned to revise it in he added new material but did not change Berlioz's original text.


Macdonald comments that there are few facets of musical practice of the time untouched in Berlioz's feuilletons. He professed to dislike writing his press pieces, and they undoubtedly took up time that he would have preferred to spend writing music. His excellence as a witty and perceptive critic may have worked to his disadvantage in another way: Holoman lists six other French biographies of the composer published in the four decades after his death.

Turner , who wrote what Cairns calls "exaggerated eulogies". His successors were Tom S. Wotton, author of a biography, and Julien Tiersot , who wrote numerous scholarly articles on Berlioz and began the collection and editing of the composer's letters, a process eventually completed in , eighty years after Tiersot's death. He was accused at the time by the musicologist Winton Dean of being excessively partisan, and refusing to admit failings and unevenness in Berlioz's music; [] more recently he has been credited by the critic Nicholas Temperley with playing a major part in improving the climate of musical opinion towards Berlioz.

The critic Rosemary Wilson said of his work, "He has done more than any other writer to explain the uniqueness of Berlioz's musical style without losing a sense of wonder in its originality of musical expression. The Record Guide , Because only a small number of Berlioz's works were often performed in the lateth and early 20th centuries, widely accepted views of his music were based on hearsay rather than on the music itself. He creates the illusion of music by means borrowed from literature and painting". The remarkable inequality of his composition may be explained, in any rate in part, as the work of a vivid imagination striving to explain itself in a tongue which he never perfectly understood.

Berlioz, in truth, never did contrive to express what he aimed at in the impeccable manner he desired. His boundless artistic ambition was nourished by no more than a melodic gift of no great amplitude, clumsy harmonic procedures and a pen without pliancy. Cairns dismisses the article as "an astonishing anthology of all the nonsense that has ever been talked about [Berlioz]", but adds that by the s it seemed a quaint survival from a vanished age.

And do not use phrases like 'genius without talent', 'a certain strain of amateurishness', 'curiously uneven': One important reason for the steep rise in Berlioz's reputation and popularity is the introduction of the LP record after the Second World War. In Barzun made the point that although Berlioz was praised by his artistic peers, including Schumann, Wagner, Franck and Mussorgsky, the public had heard little of his music until recordings became widely available. Barzun maintained that many myths had grown up about the supposed quirkiness or ineptitude of the music — myths that were dispelled once the works were finally made available for all to hear.

A milestone in the reappraisal of Berlioz's reputation came in , when for the first time a professional opera company staged the original version of The Trojans in a single evening. It was at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden ; the work was sung in English with some minor cuts, but its importance was internationally recognised, and led to the world premiere staging of the work uncut and in French, at Covent Garden in , marking the centenary of the composer's death.

In recent decades Berlioz has been widely regarded as a great composer, prone to lapses like any other. In the composer and critic Bayan Northcott wrote that the work of Cairns, Rushton, Sir Colin Davis and others retained "the embattled conviction of a cause". Nevertheless, Northcott was writing about Davis's "Berlioz Odyssey" of seventeen concerts of Berlioz's music, featuring all the major works, a prospect unimaginable in earlier decades of the century.

All of Berlioz's major works and most of his minor ones have been commercially recorded. This is a comparatively recent development. In the mids the international record catalogues listed complete recordings of seven major works: Excerpts from Les Troyens were available but there were no complete recordings of the operas. Recordings conducted by Colin Davis are prominent in the Berlioz discography, some studio-made and others recorded live. The first was L'enfance du Christ in and the last the Requiem in By far the most recorded of Berlioz's works is the Symphonie fantastique.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Berlioz disambiguation. List of compositions and literary works by Hector Berlioz.

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Hector Berlioz as critic and author. No other composer [is] so controversial as Hector Berlioz. Feelings about the merits of his music are seldom lukewarm; it has always tended to excite either uncritical admiration or unfair disparagement. His admirers among the other Russian composers of that generation included Borodin , Cui , Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. It is uncertain how much contact they were able to have with Berlioz during his visit. La voix du romantisme". The song developed from what the conductor and academic Melinda O'Neal describes as "a beguiling strophic tune" with guitar or piano accompaniment to "a miniature tone poem with five varied strophes and a coda, significantly greater in length and dimension".

Retrieved 19 October Retrieved 18 October La voix du romantisme" Archived 11 October at the Wayback Machine. Letter of 17 July , quoted in Rushton , p. Music-making of the highest order" Archived 29 February at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 10 October Barzun, Jacques []. Berlioz and His Century: An Introduction to the Age of Romanticism 2nd ed. Beecham, Thomas []. Berlioz, Hector []. The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, — David Cairns translator and editor. Readers Union and Victor Gollancz. Bernard, Daniel []. Life and Letters of Hector Berlioz, Volume 2. The Cambridge Companion to Berlioz.

Bonds, Mark Evan A History of Music in Western Culture 4th ed. Music and the French Revolution. Cairns, David []. Berlioz — Volume 1: The Making of an Artist, — 2nd ed. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Learn more about Amazon Prime. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Explore the Home Gift Guide. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web.

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