Again with David, at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham on the 6 January for a powerful and, as we were at the front of the stalls, at times an ear-splitting Requiem under Roger Norrington. How good to know that there were and are , so many talented youngsters in the Youth Orchestra of Great Britain equal to the task of performing this work.
I know them so well that I feel they must have known me. One project I contributed to entailed inputting from the large registers, written in beautiful copperplate, full descriptions of , copyrighted 19C photographs in the care of TNA. Name and Place of Abode of Author of Work: And now for a particularly pleasurable episode. My night school French tutor had urged a visit to Le Parc de Monceau, despite its being well away from the main Paris tourist areas.
So, with my wife, during a short holiday we walked there very early one October morning and found it to be a place of much charm and beauty. It was made especially attractive by the morning mist swirling in the gentle breeze allowing brighter light to break through. Parisians were hurrying to work and a lady was feeding the birds. It was well worth all the walking. It is a park of shady walks, leafy bowers, ponds, imitation natural springs, an Egyptian pyramid, a Dutch windmill and so on — everything that makes for complete informality.
The famous Naumachie, a pond surrounded by a semi-circular colonnade of fluted Corinthian columns, partly broken, partly missing, is so overgrown with vines that it looks as though it has been standing there for centuries. Contrasted with the splendid formal Parisian gardens, there is absolutely no order here.
The trees grow naturally, the walks curve around in the most unexpected manner, and everywhere remnants of broken Roman columns, archways, parts of ancient ruins, forgotten statuary. So where is the Berlioz connection? A re-reading of Cairns Volume 2. Servitude and Greatness, provided a pleasant surprise on reaching p. In a letter to Pauline Viardot he wrote: I own a fine garden which costs me nothing, despite the two or three gardeners who are kept busy constantly tidying it and varying its adornments.
Some of the above detail about the park was cribbed from its website. I asked for the description to be expanded to refer to the above quotation. Within a day it was changed, not quite in the way I wanted, but at least our hero now gets a well-deserved mention. I wondered if they might make an appropriate epitaph, but as time passes they seem less and less appropriate. The late Barry Foster played a leading part. This turned out to be a mini festival of Berlioz excerpts. Alas, fine words failed me so my entry is rather feeble — made all the worse since many illustrious musicians have signed and commented.
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But nothing can recapture those far-off days, Gone alas like our youth, too soon , when so little of the music was accessible and one had to let the imagination take over from books. Only later came the joy of hearing the music itself. Today those circumstances would be difficult to encounter.
To my mind, there are two central enigmas surrounding Berlioz and his music. The first is the wonderment at how a youth from remote rural France could have arrived in Paris with comparatively little musical knowledge and in a few short years produce a symphony of such maturity. But this is the equivalent of pondering what Mozart or Schubert might have achieved had they lived to old age — and is rather pointless.
The second is why Berlioz exerts such a hold on his admirers. His music can take a long time to work its way into the mind but even after repeated hearings it comes up fresh time after time, always with more to discover and enjoy. Like Christmas carols, the music never tarnishes. His life being inseparable from the music and so very interesting, has much to do with this endless fascination. It is so very hard to choose my favourite Berlioz music.
My musical voyage of discovery, the journey of a lifetime, continued with performances in of La Damnation de Faus t at Birmingham and Benvenuto Cellini at the Barbican is coming towards an end; but it is good to know that the music and reputation of this truly great and fascinating man is in good hands, in this country at least.
The first half of the year was dedicated to learning scales, basic keyboard skills, and the like. The second half was dedicated to music history — mainly studying composers. When the first day of our study of the Romantics finally came about, we were told about the life of a man named Berlioz, who had fallen madly in love etc. As the music began March to the Scaffold , I was instantly rooted to my seat.
The brass fanfare was enough to make up my mind that this was by far the best composer I had yet heard. He remains so to this day, and will surely never be replaced. In the first couple weeks after our introduction, I could not go a day without running across something related to the great man in my own life. The next day, Symphonie fantastique was played on the National Public Radio.
What were the chances? In my senior year of high school, my show choir spent a weekend in New York City. We could choose whatever we wanted to do that Friday night. I wanted to see a musical, but, being a weekend in NY, they were all sold out. I jumped at the chance, emailing the powers that be to see if I would be able to get the chance to meet him after the performance. I was told it would, but, unfortunately, it did not work out. Adding to the list of reasons for my wanting to go to London, I blew all of my graduation money on the trip.
Once again, I emailed the powers that be and was told that I would have no problem talking with him backstage after the concert. Before the concert, I had a wonderful dinner and chat with the incredible creators of this site.
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When the time finally came, I dodged the security guard care of the principal second violinist and made my way backstage where I was able to chat with Sir Colin. All-in-all, it wasa perfect day, thanks to Hector! I discovered Berlioz, as a teenager, in — the significance of that centennial year was, then, unknown to me! Having been brought up on the symphonies by Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms, my first experience of the Fantastique was one of incomprehension and a certain bewilderment. Then, after several listenings, the penny dropped! Those long sequences of lonely, sparsely accompanied notes became beautiful, extended melodies.
This, I realised, was an overwhelming piece of musical drama — powerful and TRUE — a fusion of opposites. How can the elegant, if somewhat vulgar, waltz exist without the brutal and barbaric March to the Scaffold? I now recognise this fusion in all of Berlioz. I next heard Harold in Italy , and this piece had an immediate impact. I love this symphony — and it is probably my favourite Berlioz piece.
The evocation of colour and imagery, as in most of his music, is almost hallucinatory. Les Troyens is classical opera, interpreting classical Virgil in glorious, if tragic, orchestral and choral Technicolour. The Requiem is astronomically cosmic — the depths are blacker than black, the climaxes white hot! One of my projects was clay sculptures of Berlioz. In my teenage naivety, I wrote him a letter, expressing my astonishment that a like-minded soul had found his expression of his love of Berlioz in Art!
And to my utmost astonishment he replied see letter. Of particular interest is my Harold in Italy montage, since it includes an image of one of the clay sculptures of Berlioz I made way back in Actually, this particular montage is something of a family affair — the Paganini image is from a recent oil painting of mine, and the viola is a creation of my father — now 86 years old — an amateur violin, viola and cello maker.
His favourite composer is Haydn — hence my name — and he was the one that bought me the Klemperer tape of Symphonie Fantastique , all those years ago! Incredibly a roadside sign for the town came into view, a lovely picture of H. Despite my cries to stop so that I might photograph this, it proved impossible to do so, and I really hoped to do this another day. I thought I resisted that rather well, but I was focused on other things! The museum itself was instantly recognisable to me, and it was with great anticipation and excitement that I walked through that door.
We were greeted and issued with tickets and supplied with audio guides in English by two most charming French ladies whose English was as limited as was our French. Somehow we did manage to understand each other. From then on, we had the museum to ourselves for what must have been three hours. Beautifully laid-out patterned wooden floors abound throughout, also you step on what must be the original stone flags on the stairs, the staircase having a lovely wide aspect which gives the house itself a real sense of importance. Berlioz was indeed lucky to have been born into this household. Doctor Berlioz, a fascinating character himself, appears to have been largely self-taught, finally finishing his formal training and study for just a few months in Paris before gaining his title and returning home to his practice as a town doctor.
How different it would be today! The audio guide is rather splendid, perhaps one of the best and most informative that I have come across. Pictures, paintings, sculptures, manuscripts, letters — all were introduced and explained and we were left freely to soak up the atmosphere and examine whatever we wished.
Upstairs many exhibits are in cabinets with sliding drawers. I turned and looked at the blue walls, when the thought came to me of Hector looking at those very same walls as I was now, and it was suddenly overwhelming. Apparently Ken, bless him, had been waiting for this! Upstairs I was also particularly taken with a large window blind covering the whole window — this was printed with a faint photographic image of Berlioz — an absolutely beautiful effect.
The last upstairs room is very sad. I found this incredibly hard to approach but when I did, I was struck with the profile of that much loved face. You can see very clearly that the many paintings and photographs we all know so well do in fact give a very true likeness. There is no mistaking that amazing profile. Nor in fact that amazing music which could not possibly have been written by any other composer. It seemed a fitting way to leave it with that wonderful music still resonating in the air…. As we were leaving, Ken pointed out the busts for sale in the shop — we had seen so many throughout the house that I had stopped even registering them.
As it was my birthday this was a timely and precious acquisition, and it now has pride of place in my front room. What a fantastic visit — I loved the museum, so carefully and lovingly realised and exactly what I would have wanted for Berlioz myself. I have one thought or suggestion for the museum.
They really should produce a souvenir guide in several languages with photographs both of the house and some of the permanent collection. I hope they will do this. Now I just want to go back. After all I never did get to photograph that road sign! Reading his Memoirs was a delightful experience and it remains one of my favourite books. If anyone is interested, the book Berlioz Remembered , compiled of contemporary anecdotes about the composer, makes a nice companion read.
The tenor sang a singular "Sanctus" from one of the balconies; the "Dies Irae" was staggering. A year later, I was fortunate enough to make a trip to Paris, where I was disappointed by Berlioz Square, a tiny park in an out-of-the-way neighbourhood that contains what I consider a rather poor sculpture of the composer. What was I thinking?! Sure it was expensive, the exchange rate had taken me for a sucker, and my bags were already stuffed, but I should have sprung for it. To me, Berlioz remains one of the most human of the great composers, a creator of beautiful music, a man who struggled his whole life because he simply knew that he must; I have often wished to be able to feel as he must have, to be as moved by music, to have such finely tuned sensitivity and such a passionate temperament.
Although I have often wished that Berlioz had been given a museum in his adoptive city of Paris to provide greater access, having seen his family home in its natural setting, I now believe that his museum is appropriately located. Our first visit day, however, was far from the sunny ideal I could imagine. To begin with, I got us lost on some back roads after being confused by a sign to an alternate route.
There were tense moments as we looked at our inadequately detailed map for guidance out of the maze. Eventually we wound our way back to the highway, almost back at the source of the original mistake.
Too bad we were too anxious to enjoy the lovely scenery of woods and lake! Grey skies served as a backdrop for my photos of the master, reflecting as he leans against his podium. We were happy to find shelter through the open blue doors of the stately old Berlioz home just a couple of blocks up the hill. We were greeted by two gracious receptionists who issued us honorary tickets at no charge after inquiring the names of our home cities and countries.
On a late Wednesday morning in early May, we had the house to ourselves. These displays were well illustrated with period prints and photos. I wished for English translations, but, after all, I was in the depths of la belle France! And, to be fair, I had passed up the opportunity to rent headphones with English commentary.
I was rather surprised that the introductory displays were not arranged chronologically or such was my impression. The house is constructed as though it were two houses fused back-to-back on different levels, for one must climb a staircase to reach the rear of the house, with its garden. This was true of the transition from the front to the rear of the house on each level.
The room was painted a sort of Wedgwood blue with if memory serves me correctly a scrollwork painted in deep rose along the top of the walls. These colours, discovered during restoration, were described as original to the room. Overall, I was surprised at the size and grandeur of the house as well as its almost Italianate appearance from the garden side.
For someone who is fascinated with Berlioz, the museum is a treasure trove of delights. The originals of family portraits and photographs, autograph scores, original letters, presentation batons and silver wreaths, travel notebooks, a few musical instruments from the period, and proclamations from royalty honouring Berlioz — too much to absorb in a single day. We returned two days later this time without losing our way to revisit the letters and scores. I regretted not having enough time to read all the many letters stored in illuminated drawers on the top floor.
His music was playing softly in the theatre in the basement. When we returned after our lunch break, the receptionists kindly played the television film Moi, Berlioz just for us in the theatre. Would that the film were available on DVD for purchase! The receptionists assured us that it is rare and unavailable. Of all that we saw and experienced in the museum during our two visits, nothing moved me more than the plaster head of Berlioz modelled from his death mask. How sad his sunken face looked, with its beak of a nose and its frame of wild hair, apparently scattered against his pillow!
What would I have had different in my experience of the Berlioz museum? Having the captions for the displays placed with the displays rather than, as often happened, at the nearest doorway or on a hard-to-read panel nearby, would have made viewing more convenient.
I did appreciate the reproductions of the portrait or document found alongside the captions as a key. Is it presumptuous of me to request English translations beneath the French? An analysis of the home country data requested at the ticket counter would provide an answer regarding numbers of English-speaking visitors. I found the lighting throughout the house maddeningly inadequate. Many portraits and illustrations on the walls or in cabinets needed their own illumination.
I also thought that captions were often in print too small for convenient reading by more than one person at a time, but better lighting would have helped. I would have liked to see more furniture from the period throughout the house. I remember another period piano and a music stand similar to the one on the Berlioz statue. The kitchen was nicely re-fitted so that I could imagine the cook working and, indeed, living in there for there was a bed in the alcove.
I would have liked to have the same sort of impression about the rest of the house, but space probably would not allow for both exhibits and furniture. Finally, I sincerely hope that the grand old Berlioz house soon receives a well-deserved fresh coat of paint, especially on its garden side!
In the ground floor reception area an interesting array of books and postcards of Berlioz was on sale. I was surprised that the publications of the ANHB Association Nationale Hector Berlioz , headquartered in the house, were not also on offer, but probably there is some regulation which makes this impossible. Like the musical and literary masterpieces of Berlioz himself, it will yield its beauties to those who take the trouble to find it, to linger, and to reflect on what influences are at work in the development of genius.
I come from Slovakia and I am one of those devoted Berlioz-lovers one can find all over the world. My enthusiasm for Berlioz started — not surprisingly — with hearing the Fantastique , many years ago, when I was about years old. Beauty combined with fierce temperament.
And what a performance! An astonishing originality, richness of melodic invention and a masterful orchestration. Energy of a young man breaking conventions. He was 21 when he wrote it, and the themes of his later, more famous works can be heard here. This work is simply a must for every Berlioz-lover!
As far as I know, it has never been performed in Slovakia. I listened to the "Dies Irae" of his Requiem , with the beatings of a dozen bass drums, and wow, what a sound effect! I had no idea such terrifying sounds were possible to be produced in the s. But Berlioz totally managed to capture the hellish and horrific aspects of the human psyche with his music.
You cannot help think about Death and the macabre when you hear that music. I first want to thank Drs Tayeb and Austin for such an amazing site. It is unreal that such a comprehensive site with all this data can be found about my favorite, yet mysterious composer. I have been visiting this site since , when the content, already impressive, was not nearly as broad as it is today. I must start the story of my life with Berlioz from the beginning, for I am amazed myself how I was ushered into the complexly exquisite — and exquisitely complex — life as a Berliozian.
Anybody who encounters me knows right away that I have an obsession with this "Frenchy" — and though it turns heads here in America, especially among my contemporaries, I am adamantly unapologetic for this infatuation. So was the case in my eleventh year — with considerably more power — when I saw for the first time this famous caricature of Berlioz: There is something that triggered within me a "love" for this man in the picture.
I knew not his music, nor his story — or why indeed he was depicted in such a mocking fashion. But, as the old adage goes, "a picture says a thousand words", I was overtaken by a sense that this man in the picture was larger than life in many ways — his music notwithstanding. Soon I was about years old I came across a cheap recording of the Fantastique conducted by Alberto Lizzio on the Piltz label, in a discount store.
I listened to the recording at least three times a day, every day, until it was coming out of my ears. I could just not get enough of Berlioz. The Fantastique is all I had, however. I devoured whatever information I could about Berlioz and I found some very interesting facts — which I found later to be incomplete or flawed, for the most part — and I was now impressed by the man as much as the composer. I could not imagine how a man, who wrote such outstanding music, did not play a single instrument!
Of course it is not entirely true — we know he was quite good at playing the guitar, flute and timpani; but I found that fact very "cool" at the time. I was also intrigued by a weird instrument he wrote for — the viola. Again, I was a young kid with not much knowledge about music, despite my overpowering love for it. I wanted to hear what the viola sounded like and how Berlioz of the Fantastique could pull off an impressive work for Paganini for this instrument. I was always familiar with Paganini — long before even encountering Berlioz.
Soon I took out a recording of Harold en Italie from the library with Toscanini and his principal violist Carlton Cooley in the discography on this site you fail to mention this recording, by the way — and I was smitten with love for this composer all over again! At around the time I came across this site I was years old, and I was desperately seeking to own some more music of this amazing composer.
I was particularly looking for that second symphony — the viola symphony. The summer I came across this site was fruitful musically in many ways. I guess I started my musicological career that summer. Over the ensuing years my awareness, knowledge, appreciation and larger-than-life love for Berlioz just grew and grew.
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I was very aware about the bicentennial that was approaching, and I had only one idea of how a Berliozian can spend it. I put together the money, made my impulsive plans that means no plans and made my way to the airport for a Berliozian experience in France! I promptly made my way to NYC that evening. It was the most awesome experience I ever had. It is now , and I still remember that night as vividly as if it were yesterday. I left the pub on a cloud. The violist of the Davis concert was Paul Silverthorn; he is an amazing violist and his reading of the symphony was uniquely exceptional, considering I had heard many readings by various violists.
Since that Year of Berlioz many things have occurred in my life, including my decision to go to college. I therefore have to take his example and work harder at maintaining his vision for the future. I have clear plans to conduct in the near future and expose Berlioz to the world for what he truly was — the greatest Romantic composer in history…and that is not an understatement!
This passion started fifteen years ago. As a teenager, I knew La Fantastique as anybody else but never thought of going farther in his music. But in , I suddenly found myself alone and helpless so I remembered Berlioz. I therefore went to the record-dealer and enquired about the available selections for Berlioz. The clerk answered "You know he did not compose much and it is mostly vocal music".
At the time I did not like vocal music and I told myself that Berlioz must lack inspiration. In spite of this I asked if he had composed another symphony, so I bought Harold en Italie. I liked it so much that I decided to take a risk and purchase a vocal piece called La Damnation de Faust which I simply adored!
I have been wiped off my feet ever since!!! I read the Memoirs in which I liked so much his strength of character and sense of humour that I bought all his recordings as well as his writings including his correspondence. I must say that he is as much a great writer as he is a great composer. The moral of all this is that we should perhaps not discourage customers who wish to explore the works of composers.
I end by stating that maybe we should stop denigrating him and take him as he is. What a sad loss to her family and to every music lover. I am happy and proud to have met her around the mids. Although my parents shared — and had initiated — my love for classical music, they were astonished that their son was so immersed in everything related to his favourite composer and his own heart. I can still remember asking myself: She seemed to be amused by the passionate boy and did him the great favour of talking to him. She introduced herself to me as the daughter of Adolphe Boschot, the biographer of Berlioz.
I was a mere child, shy and nervous in front of a person who looked like an "apparition" such as the emperor in Turandot. Of course I possessed at least two volumes of the famous biography. So I could easily grasp how important she was, if that were necessary, so marvellous was this lady. Today I cannot remember much about our conversation. But I do remember very well what she said about her father: Granted that Berlioz neither played this instrument nor liked it particularly it may be interesting to know that he sometimes used the piano to test the effectiveness of certain tonal combinations.
It is a pity that I do not have a picture of this splendid woman. But enough of these sentimental journeys Subsequently, I saw it at the Met every time it was revived, including a performance in the mid s when Jessye Norman sang both Cassandra and Dido in the same performance. I will never forget it! And the most recent Met production too, with Deborah Voigt as Dido. I also had the great pleasure of attending a rare staged performance of La Damnation de Faust at the Opera Company of Philadelphia in the s.
The effect of these performances of Cellini on me was amazing. I have since acquired recordings of every Berlioz work I could get my hands on, and now own the 24 CD Philips set of Berlioz works, and numerous other recordings. I also devoured the autobiography, and purchased, and am now reading, David Cairns two volume biography. Having in the last eight months fallen in love with the music and the writing of Hector Berlioz, I could not visit Paris without thinking of him as I walked its streets and visited its buildings and museums.
Since my visit was limited to three days, my attempts to reach back over the years to places he had known were just a few, but possibly of interest to readers. In his letters Berlioz wrote that his teacher, Lesueur, deeply moved by hearing the Mass, assured Berlioz that he would be not a doctor or an apothecary, but a great composer. I walked inside the great cavern of a church, looking for evidence of his music. On the information stand I was able to find only a tiny flier advertising an upcoming performance of the Requiem de Mozart by the Orchestre Lyrique de Paris; nothing of Berlioz.
However, in my imagination I could hear the magnificent Resurrexit echoing through the dark and empty church.
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In fact, he sang an excerpt for me sotto voce! Christophe is aware of how much modern music owes to Berlioz, including the introduction of the song cycle to the French. I told Christophe how wonderful the HBerlioz website is and gave him the address. I also lent him my CDs of Hector Berlioz: Romantic Spirit and he played them softly! He also indicated on a Paris map where the Berlioz statue was. It was disappointing not to find a single reference to Berlioz among her artifacts, despite her involvement with Chopin and her friendship with Liszt and Pauline Viardot.
Pauline looked much more attractive in that particular photo than in the one on the website. Ary Scheffer, the painter who lived there from until his death in , held salons. Perhaps Berlioz visited his home in the company of the Viardots. I like to think that once he climbed the same steep narrow concrete steps to the front door as I did.
Following our visit, we walked over to the Berlioz statue just a few streets away. From the clothing I assume that it was to have depicted Berlioz in the s. The material from which it is made is quite rough, like concrete. Rather disappointing, on the whole. As we left the little park, I turned for one last look. As we walked through the rooms, I kept my eye out for the famous portrait of Berlioz by Courbet which I knew was in the collection. We finally found the Courbets in a huge area which had been the foyer of the museum prior to the conversion of the west end as the new entrance.
There were many, many Courbets, from wall-size to portrait size. We asked at the information desk. However, she obliged by looking it up on the computer. Just months after the th anniversary of his birth, poor Berlioz, never understood by the Parisians he was loyal to his entire life, was consigned back to the basement! I told Christophe about Berlioz exiled to the basement at the Orsay. The music of Berlioz, however, will continue to move us to the bottommost depths of our souls; it speaks for itself and cannot be suffocated by the city of its birth.
Perhaps a future visit to Paris will bring me to places where the memory of Berlioz is honored, not suppressed. I had joined a music class at Leicester University and we were learning to read scores. Every week we took a lesser known work by a different composer, we were also given a brief introduction to the composer behind the work. Our tutor, himself a composer, was enthusiastically talking about the Memoirs , but I was picking up a certain amount of prejudice against Berlioz amongst my fellow students.
I was not at all impressed by his throwaway attitude and that may well have made me pay more attention to what was to follow. I came home and found my long lost copy of Symphonie fantastique , which I had never really listened to properly, having previously listened to it once, finding it completely incomprehensible, and putting it quickly away in the cupboard! Now, years later I blew off the dust, and I listened, almost with new ears; I was amazed that I could have just dismissed this before!
Well, that was it! I discovered someone else had been alive who shared the same feelings and responses as myself! Someone else who loved Shakespeare, Music and Art above all else. And someone who was not afraid to feel, however painful he might find it.
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Berlioz became very real as I read further, he seemed to speak directly from the page personally to me, or so it seemed. Colleagues were intrigued as I sat in the staff-room at breaktimes, always with this book, frequently unable to stop myself from laughing out loud. His ironic sense of humour touched such a chord with me! My feelings of being one on my own became almost a thing of the past. At last a kindred spirit, even if he was around no more! I felt I knew him and understood him; his music overwhelms me still.
He was so brave in his music creating new ways of expressing his ideas, as he also needed to be in his struggle to promote it. He was always true to his inner vision and made no concessions at all to mediocrity or public taste. He was so brave in his personal life too, beset as he was with family troubles, his own illness and the awful tragedy of losing his much loved son Louis; yet even in his sixties he remained a wonderful romantic figure, remaining true to his real friends and rediscovering his long lost love Estelle. And the magic of his music continues. I was about 15 years old when I was introduced to Berlioz.
I had been going through a really rough time and was taking very heavy medications for depression and anxiety. The drugs literally put me into a haze, and school was just about impossible. Orchestra was my first class, and one morning I came in and found new music on my stand.
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At first I thought "Oh great, something else to hate". Then my director came in with a very very old vinyl and put it on the turntable. At once I felt a rush of emotion. I understood the whole thing. Whoever Hector Berlioz was, I knew exactly how he felt when he put those notes on paper. And a thought occurred to me. I spent hours researching Berlioz and reading everything I could find about him. It took me several months to get my hands on a copy of the Memoirs , and I ended up finding it 3 hours out of town, but I got it. But it gave me enough hope to keep living. It gave me the strength I needed to change.
And I will be grateful for that as long as I am alive. Since then, my family, my friends, and especially my husband who adores Bach has learned more than they thought they would ever know about Berlioz. I talk about him a lot, and I tell everyone I can to listen to his music. I am incredibly excited about spring, when I will be performing the Symphonie fantastique in its entirety for the first time with the local symphony orchestra.
I plan on getting my parts WAY ahead of time, they send us music a week before the concert. Not quite enough time to prepare for something like that. I want to play it perfectly! Last year, my cat, Aleah, who I had had since I was 4 years old, died of kidney failure. It was devastating, my mom was out of town at the time, and had lost her Maine Coon, Rosie, to feline leukaemia only six months earlier.
I had to call her on the way back from her beautiful vacation and tell her Aleah had died. During the 40 minute drive, we listened to the Requiem. A fitting piece, I thought, for the little furball who had been such a big part of my life. Well, that is my personal Berlioz experience. How is it possible that a happily married woman turning sixty can announce to the world that she has fallen in love with Hector Berlioz, dead these years? I blame my brother. In inviting me to a January, , Los Angeles Philharmonic performance, under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen, of an all-Berlioz program featuring Tristia and Harold in Italy , he planted the seed that became my obsession with the man and his music.
In reading the program notes, I was inspired to learn more about Berlioz and his music. That decision led to a search for the musical works remaining to complete my collection sadly, not very many, if one compares to Beethoven or Mozart. After all this reading, I was so mad as to invest in Volume 26 of the New Berlioz Edition , The Portraits of Hector Berlioz , which did serious damage to my retirement account! With loving fascination I studied in particular each photograph, trying to bring the man to life in my imagination. Alas, I will never see his smile, hear his manic laugh, know what colour his wild hair really was, or find out what his voice sounded like.
By the way, I owe my knowledge of most of this library to this wonderful resource, HBerlioz. What have I learned from living intensely in my imagination with Hector Berlioz and his unique, sad, glorious, arresting, bizarre, joyful and altogether unforgettable music? That he was a man who lived, loved, and created masterpieces of music and literature by means of his brilliant imagination. That, most of the time, he made and kept friends for life and over distance by means of vividly written, charming letters. That he led a painful later life during which he lost, one after the other, every one of his immediate family members.
That the few triumphs of his later life were paid for by a chronic and debilitating intestinal disorder that confined him to his bed immediately after. That he had to spend much of his considerable energy and precious time attending musical performances of mostly inferior quality in order to make a living writing reviews of them, a career he came to detest despite the insight, integrity, and talent he brought to it. That he somehow found time and energy to write, in addition to his memoirs, four books on a variety of musical topics which are still in print today. That he was continually passed over for musical positions and honours for which he was uniquely qualified.
That he had to bow and scrape to be granted permission for concerts he funded out of his meagre savings and conducted himself because others misinterpreted. That he was saved from the depths of despair by the strength of his character and his extraordinary wit. That the joy of his greatest triumphs was never quite sufficient to ameliorate the pain of his greatest failures. And yet, despite all he had to endure, he was nevertheless able to write music of surpassing tenderness, delicacy, and poignancy, and also music of overwhelming power and majesty.
I love the music and the writing; most of all, I love the man as I have learned to know him. Because in Japan the information on Berlioz is very limited and some of his biographies are out of print now. So I really appreciate this site. It is detailed and rich in content. Who's Afraid of Opera? Let's Make An Opera! Pioneer of Contemporary Vocality. The Strange Career of Porgy and Bess. Maria Margareta Babeanu Moldoveanu. Great Operas of Puccini. How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long.
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