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, [...]

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 |2020-01-14T15:21:55-06:00February 3rd, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Music, 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 Timeless [...]

“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 [...]

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

By |2020-12-22T22:35:26-06:00December 24th, 2018|Categories: Audio/Video, Catholicism, Christmas, Hector Berlioz, Music|

Could anything as tender and touching as "L’Enfance du Christ" have been written by a man who did not believe? One hopes that professed atheist 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 [...]

“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 [...]

Immortal Beloved: Musical Love Letters From the Great Composers

By |2021-02-12T14:22:54-06:00February 13th, 2017|Categories: Audio/Video, Gustav Mahler, Hector Berlioz, Love, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, 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. 1.  Wagner: Siegfried Idyll Though his reputation rests on his big, long, and loud mythological operas, Richard Wagner was also capable of composing on a [...]

The Top Ten Greatest Requiem Masses

By |2021-03-05T17:10:32-06:00January 26th, 2016|Categories: Audio/Video, 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 devout [...]

Music for Christmas: Ten Great Classical Pieces

By |2020-12-17T17:54:46-06:00December 10th, 2015|Categories: Audio/Video, Christmas, Hector Berlioz, J.S. Bach, Music, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|

Here are ten outstanding Christmas-themed classical pieces, including both the well-known and the little-known. 1. G.F. Handel: Messiah  Though especially popular at Christmas time, it is only “Part the First” of Handel's Messiah that pertains to the season—the latter two sections address Christ’s passion and resurrection. There are some 100 versions of this magisterial work currently [...]

Music of War and Remembrance: Ten Classical Music Pieces

By |2020-07-12T15:15:16-05:00November 11th, 2015|Categories: Antonio Vivaldi, Audio/Video, Gustav Holst, Hector Berlioz, Joseph Haydn, Music, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Stephen M. Klugewicz, War|

Across the centuries, composers have been inspired by the twin dramas of human conflict and the subsequent making of peace. Here are ten great pieces of classical music that dramatize war, celebrate its resolution, and recall its sacrifices. 10. Franz Liszt: The Battle of the Huns One of the composer's many tone poems, Franz Liszt's Hunnenschlacht—written in [...]

Music for Holy Week & Easter: Ten Classical Works

By |2021-04-02T15:16:07-05:00April 4th, 2015|Categories: Antonio Vivaldi, Audio/Video, Easter, Hector Berlioz, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

Though Handel’s “Messiah” rightly reigns supreme as the king of music for Easter, there are many other seasonal masterpieces that deserve to be heard more often. Here are ten lesser-known classical works that brilliantly depict the dramatic events of Holy Week and Easter Sunday. […]

Ten Scary Classical Music Pieces for Halloween

By |2020-10-22T15:29:26-05:00October 31st, 2014|Categories: Antonin Dvorak, Audio/Video, Franz Schubert, Halloween, Hector Berlioz, J.S. Bach, Jean Sibelius, Music, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

Great music pierces the soul…and can sometimes terrify it. Over the centuries, composers, like nearly all artists of every variety, have been fascinated by the subject of death and by the supernatural—the world of witches, goblins, ghosts, and demons. Composers have given us Dances of the Dead, frightful tone poems and songs, scary opera scenes, [...]

The Top Ten Greatest Operas

By |2020-10-29T23:29:01-05:00June 23rd, 2013|Categories: Antonio Vivaldi, Audio/Video, Culture, Hector Berlioz, Music, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Stephen M. Klugewicz, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|

The human voice is God’s most beautiful instrument, and the blending of voices and musical instruments within the context of a dramatic visual presentation is the zenith of human artistic achievement. This is the glory of opera. Below is a list of the ten greatest operas ever composed, in order of greatness, from ten down [...]

Go to Top