Hector Berlioz

Harold in Italy, op. 16

        Of all of the major composers of the nineteenth century, Hector Berlioz is perhaps the most personally interesting. What a vivacious, unique individual he was, both in his life and in his music. And, perhaps most refreshing--for one who lived such an intense and varied existence--on the whole he suffered from few pathologies in his behavior and personality. He was intense and impassioned in his pursuit of the composition of music that reflected his literary interests, his interaction with his physical surroundings, and his deeply-felt emotions. He was not a virtuoso performer (playing the flute and the guitar only passably), his early musical training having been derived largely from the study of harmony books.

Roman Carnival Overture, op. 9

        Of all of the major composers of the nineteenth century, Hector Berlioz is perhaps the most personally interesting. What a vivacious, unique individual he was, both in his life and in his music. And, perhaps most refreshing--for one who lived such an intense and varied existence--on the whole he suffered from few pathologies in his behavior and personality. He was intense and impassioned in his pursuit of the composition of music that reflected his literary interests, his interaction with his physical surroundings, and his deeply-felt emotions. He was not a virtuoso performer (playing the flute and the guitar only passably), his early musical training having been derived largely from the study of harmony books.

Symphonie fantastique, op. 14

        Of all of the major composers of the nineteenth century, Hector Berlioz is perhaps the most personally interesting. What a vivacious, unique individual he was, both in his life and in his music. And, perhaps most refreshing--for one who lived such an intense and varied existence—he was a relatively normal individual. He was single minded of purpose and impassioned in his pursuit of the composition of music that reflected his literary interests, his interaction with his physical surroundings, and his deeply felt emotions. He was not a virtuoso performer (he did play the flute and the guitar passably), his early musical training having been derived largely from the study of harmony books. However—and it is a major informing aspect of his intellect—he was a man of literature.

Three Orchestral Excerpts from “The Damnation of Faust”, op. 24

        Today, despite our society’s flirtation with “multiculturalism,” audiences generally reflect little about cultural differences between the arts in the various countries of Western Europe. But, during the nineteenth century Romanticism in the various arts produced some very different national results. Perhaps the most interesting one was the difference between French and German musical preferences during that time. To perhaps over simplify, German composers and audiences generally, and naturally, seemed to have preferred symphonies, string quartets, and sonatas, in general. On the other hand, the French thought first and foremost of opera when music was mentioned.