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Hector BERLIOZ
11 December 1803 - 8 March 1869 (age 65)

Hector Berlioz was a French 19th century composer, writer, music critic and conductor. He changed the sound of modern orchestras.

Family

Works

Quotes

Conductor and writer

Links

More French composers here

Portrait of Berlioz

Family

Born: December 11, 1803. La Côte-St-André, Isère, France
Father:
Louis Berlioz, doctor, scholar, atheist
Mother: Marie-Antoinette-Josephine, Catholic
Siblings: Five, three of which died very young, his sisters Nanci and Adele remained close to him.
Partners:
1st wife: Harriet Smithson, Irish Shakespearian actress
2nd wife: singer Marie-Geneviève Martin, alias Marie Recio (1814-1862)
Children: Son (by Harriet), Louis-Thomas Berlioz, died 1867
Died:
March 8, 1869. Paris, France
Grave: Cimetiere de Montmartre, Paris, France

   



Works

Operas/choral works:

 - Benvenuto Cellini
 - Le Troyens
 - Beatrice and Benedict
 - Les Francs-juges (incomplete)
 - Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem)
 - La Damnation de Faust
 - Te Deum
 - L'Enfance du Christ

Orchestral

 - Symphonie Fantastique
 - Harold en Italie
 - Romeo et Juliette
 - The Corsair
 - King Lear
 - Grande Symphonie funebre et triomphale.

Les Troyens (The Trojans)
"What a Discovery... Berlioz's Greatest Opera "Les Troyens"!"

An interesting background article to the opera. Read it here.
Written by a visitor to www.52.composers.com.

Benvenuto Cellini

Two Geniuses - Berlioz and Cellini : another interesting illustrated article by Dieter Schoop about the outstanding opera 'Benvenuto Cellini'

La Damnation de Faust

Another review by Dieter Schoop 'Damnation de Faust'

Requiem

An interesting illustrated article by Dieter Schoop about the Berlioz Requiem


Tony Palmer's film 'I, Berlioz'

89 minute film directed by the acclaimed, award-winning director Tony Palmer and starring Corin Redgrave.

"I, Hector Louis Berlioz, composer, musician, citizen of France, tell you, in this my Last Will and Testament, that my subject is - and has always been - war." So begins an epic journey through the terrible struggles that Berlioz endured to get his great opera The Trojans performed. He never succeeded, and the effort cost him his life.

Sir Brian Young, former Director- General of the IBA, wrote at the time of the first transmission: "Absolutely magnificent. It will win the Prix Italia and every BAFTA award going."
(Amazon product review)


Amazon USA  


Symphonie Fantastique- 5th Movement
 


Quotes

 - “At least I have the modesty to admit that lack of modesty is one of my failings”

- “The luck of having talent is not enough; one must also have a talent for luck”

- “Every composer knows the anguish and despair occasioned by forgetting ideas which one had no time to write down”

- "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."


Berlioz in Art
A fascinating collection of images in art, portrait, caricatures, cartoons, album covers and postage stamps


Books/CDs/DVDs etc

Berlioz on Amazon.com (USA)

or on Amazon UK


The conductor Berlioz was considered by many to be the greatest conductor of his time. He started conducting out of impatience with how some other conductors treated his own compositions.
He never had a permanent position but was always in demand as a guest conductor which enabled him to travel widely.
It was also out of financial necessity as his own works were not performed very often due to the big expense of putting them on as many involved larger than usual orchestras and special effects.

The writer
He was also a prolific writer. His work as a music critic was a means of support for many years. He wrote hundreds of articles for, and sometimes edited the Gazette an intellectual arts journal and other magazines.
He also wrote books the most significant of which were:
- 'The Treatise on Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration" which became essential reading for successive composers and conductors.
- 'Les Soirées de l'Orchestre' (Evenings with the Orchestra) a compilation of his articles about musical life in 19th century France.
- 'Mémoires' an autobiography


Romeo & Juliet, ballet, Jorge Donn, Suzanne Farrell. 


Overture to Roman Carnival
Played by the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain (under 13s)


Jessye Norman as Cassandra in Les Troyens

See more videos and read an interesting article on our Les Troyens page


Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem) - Tuba mirum
Monteverdi Choir

See more videos and read an interesting article on the Requiem page.


Harold in Italy (trailer)
David Aaron Carpenter and Vladimir Ashkenazy discuss their new recording


Hector's Facebook page
Share your views with other fans on these two facebook pages:
Hector's facebook (1)
and another facebook page


Links, sources and where to go for more information

- The Hector Berlioz Website - by far the best Berlioz site on the web (in English or in French)
www.hberlioz.com

- Answers.com
www.answers.com/topic/hector-berlioz

- The Berlioz Society
The Berlioz Society

- Treatise on Instrumentation (Wikipedia)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treatise_on_Instrumentation

- French composers at 52composers.com

Back to 52composers.com Home Page


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Here are links to the French composers we have on this site:

Berlioz
Bizet
Debussy
Faure
Gounod
Lully
Messiaen
Offenbach
Poulenc
Ravel
Saint-Saens
Satie



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