Hector Berlioz

Berlioz and Shakespeare

By |2019-08-16T12:15:01-05:00August 15th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

From his first experience of "Hamlet" in 1827 to his death in 1869, Hector Berlioz found William Shakespeare's plays to be an ongoing source of almost-divine inspiration for his music. Indeed, Berlioz's love for "the father of artists" led to the creation of what many consider to be his greatest work: the dramatic symphony, "Roméo [...]

Berlioz in Hell: “The Damnation of Faust”

By |2019-05-29T08:35:21-05:00April 18th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

"You see," Hector Berlioz said to a friend after enumerating his torments. "It's diabolical isn't it? I mean, it's once tragic and grotesque. I said I deserved to go to hell... but I'm there!" Indeed, Hector Berlioz was the archetype of the tortured Romantic soul: a professed atheist who yet felt the pull of his [...]

Music for Holy Week and Easter

By |2019-04-14T21:54:10-05:00April 14th, 2019|Categories: Antonio Vivaldi, Culture, Hector Berlioz, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz, Timeless Essays|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords our readers the opportunity to join Stephen Klugewicz, as he provides musical suggestions for listening during Holy Week and the Easter season. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher Though Handel’s Messiah rightly reigns supreme as the king of music for Easter, there are many other seasonal masterpieces [...]

Requiem for Hector Berlioz

By |2019-05-16T15:32:42-05:00March 8th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

"I feel I am dying," Hector Berlioz wrote in one of his last letters. "I no longer believe in anything." Indeed, by 1869, Berlioz was a frustrated man who had long ago given up his Catholic faith and who had largely given up composing. For many years, the limited and intermittent success of his compositions had [...]

Carnival Music From “Benvenuto Cellini”

By |2019-03-05T12:10:46-05:00March 5th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz|

Editor’s Note: “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 [...]

Jacques Barzun and Hector Berlioz

By |2019-04-19T00:51:56-05:00February 27th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, History, Jacques Barzun, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

In his two-volume Berlioz and the Romantic Century, historian Jacques Barzun argued that the much-maligned and misunderstood composer was in fact the dominant cultural figure of his day, “who by will and genius stamped his effigy upon the nineteenth century” and brought “kings, ministers, and public institutions, no less than poets and musicians, under his spell.” Publisher's Note: This essay [...]

Learning to Love Berlioz

By |2019-03-08T08:44:54-05:00February 3rd, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

Hector Berlioz relished the spectacular sounds that could be achieved with massive orchestral forces, but he was much more than a musical showman. His gift for melody, his genius for musical drama, his mastery of orchestration, and his bold originality place him in the front rank of the great composers. Today’s offering in our [...]

“Quartet and Chorus of the Magi”

By |2019-01-05T23:18:18-05:00January 5th, 2019|Categories: Christmas, Hector Berlioz|

Editor's Note: 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 [...]

Finding Faith in the Manger: Berlioz’s “Infancy of Christ”

By |2018-12-24T23:13:02-05:00December 24th, 2018|Categories: Catholicism, Christmas, Hector Berlioz|

Could anything as tender and touching as L’Enfance du Christ have been written by a man who did not believe? One hopes that Hector Berlioz was able to find the Christmas that he portrayed so beautifully... The poet Wallace Stevens once wrote that “The major poetic idea in the world is and always has been [...]

“The Infancy of Christ”

By |2019-03-07T16:15:15-05:00December 11th, 2018|Categories: Christmas, Hector Berlioz|

Editor's Note: 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 [...]

“Roman Carnival”

By |2019-03-04T14:39:03-05:00February 13th, 2018|Categories: Catholicism, Hector Berlioz|

Editor's Note: 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 [...]

Immortal Beloved: Musical Love Letters from the Great Composers

By |2019-02-14T11:15:51-05:00February 13th, 2017|Categories: Gustav Mahler, Hector Berlioz, Love, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Stephen M. Klugewicz, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|

Love has inspired countless composers, some of whom have written pieces dedicated to, or directly inspired by, their own beloveds. Here are ten of the best musical love letters ever composed... The Wagners' villa at Tribschen. "Wherever I turn outside my house I am in the midst of a magic world," Richard Wagner wrote. "I [...]

The Top Ten Greatest Requiem Masses

By |2019-03-08T12:45:25-05:00January 26th, 2016|Categories: Camille Saint-Saëns, Hector Berlioz, Michael Haydn, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|

“Should not church music be mostly for the heart?” —Joseph Martin Kraus The Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead—the Requiem, sometimes called Missa pro Defunctis (or Defuncto) or Messe des Morts—is surely the most dramatic of liturgical forms and has inspired countless composers, from medieval times to the present. What the Czech composer Antonin Dvořák, a [...]