About Hector Berlioz

Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803–1869) was a French Romantic composer, who wrote such masterpieces as the Symphonie fantastique, Roméo et Juliette, Grande messe des morts (Requiem), the oratorios La damnation de Faust and L'Enfance du Christ, and the operas Les Troyens and Benvenuto Cellini. Berlioz, who specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works, also made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. His influence was critical for the further development of Romanticism, especially in the music of composers such as Richard Wagner, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Richard Strauss, and Gustav Mahler.

“Le Corsaire”

By |2020-12-10T15:11:14-06:00December 10th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Hector Berlioz, Music|

Le corsaire (The Corsair), Op. 21 is an overture composed while Berlioz was on holiday in Nice in August 1844. It was first performed under the title La tour de Nice (The Tower of Nice) on 19 January 1845. It was then renamed Le corsaire rouge (after James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Red Rover) and finally Le corsaire (suggesting Byron's poem The Corsair).* Berlioz scholar [...]

“Farewell, Proud City”: Dido’s Lament For Carthage

By |2021-01-10T17:40:41-06:00June 19th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Hector Berlioz, Music|

When Berlioz's "Trojans" reaches its last half-an-hour, with Dido’s rage, misery, and then calm acceptance of utter loss amid the final doomed realization of Rome’s triumph—one finds oneself on a level that shuns most other opera’s attempts at classical transcendence. Based on Virgil’s epic poem the Aeneid, Hector Berlioz composed his four-hour Les Troyens in the style [...]

“Chant Sacré”

By |2020-06-26T13:46:08-05:00October 11th, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Hector Berlioz, Music|

Hector Berlioz wrote the Chant Sacré (Sacred Song) in 1829, using re-using a melody he had employed in his cantata of the previous year, Herminie. Berlioz went on to create three arrangements for this gorgeous and brief piece: for choir and piano; for chorus and orchestra; and, in 1844, a version for six wind instruments. [...]

Carnival Music From “Benvenuto Cellini”

By |2021-02-16T05:20:55-06:00March 5th, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Hector Berlioz, Music|

“I swear I shall never again achieve this verve and Cellinian impetuosity nor such variety of ideas,” Hector Berlioz effused about his opera, Benvenuto Cellini, based on the memoirs of the eponymous Renaissance artist who fashioned the great statue of Perseus cutting off the head of Medusa. Premiered in 1838, the opera was a failure, [...]

“Quartet and Chorus of the Magi”

By |2021-01-04T17:01:22-06:00January 5th, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Christmas, Hector Berlioz, Music|

Hector Berlioz's "Quartetto e coro dei maggi" ("Quartet and Chorus of the Magi") was written sometime around the year 1832 but not published until 1902. The author of the text is not known, though it might well have been Berlioz himself. Below is the original Italian text and an English translation, followed by a performance [...]

“The Infancy of Christ”

By |2020-12-22T22:50:40-06:00December 11th, 2018|Categories: Audio/Video, Christmas, Hector Berlioz, Music|

Regrettably, Hector Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ is little known today, aside from "The Shepherds' Farewell to the Holy Family," which is often programmed independently of the oratorio on classical Christmas albums. This chorus' gentle character may give the false impression that the 90-minute, tripartite oratorio is entirely a contemplative piece. Yet, as with all Berlioz's [...]

“Roman Carnival”

By |2021-02-16T05:22:52-06:00February 13th, 2018|Categories: Audio/Video, Catholicism, Hector Berlioz, Music|

Hector Berlioz composed Le carnaval romain, ouverture pour orchestre (Roman Carnival Overture), Op. 9, in in 1844. Intended to be performed as an independent piece, it employs themes from Berlioz' opera Benvenuto Cellini: The beautiful melody on cor anglais in the slow introduction comes from the Act I duet between Teresa and Cellini, and the rousing central section [...]

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