Hector Berlioz
Overview
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

and Grande messe des morts
Requiem (Berlioz)
The Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5 by Hector Berlioz was composed in 1837. The Grande Messe des Morts is one of Berlioz's best-known works, with a tremendous orchestration of woodwind and brass instruments, including four antiphonal offstage brass ensembles placed at the corners of the concert stage...

(Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation
Treatise on Instrumentation
Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz...

. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a conductor, he performed several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. He also composed around 50 songs. His influence was critical for the further development of Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, especially in composers like Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

, Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

 and many others.
Hector Berlioz was born in France at La Côte-Saint-André
La Côte-Saint-André
La Côte-Saint-André is a commune in the Isère department in south-eastern France.-See also:*Communes of the Isère department...

 in the département of Isère
Isère
Isère is a department in the Rhône-Alpes region in the east of France named after the river Isère.- History :Isère is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Dauphiné...

, near Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

.
Encyclopedia
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

and Grande messe des morts
Requiem (Berlioz)
The Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5 by Hector Berlioz was composed in 1837. The Grande Messe des Morts is one of Berlioz's best-known works, with a tremendous orchestration of woodwind and brass instruments, including four antiphonal offstage brass ensembles placed at the corners of the concert stage...

(Requiem). Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation
Treatise on Instrumentation
Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz...

. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a conductor, he performed several concerts with more than 1,000 musicians. He also composed around 50 songs. His influence was critical for the further development of Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, especially in composers like Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

, Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

 and many others.

Early years

Hector Berlioz was born in France at La Côte-Saint-André
La Côte-Saint-André
La Côte-Saint-André is a commune in the Isère department in south-eastern France.-See also:*Communes of the Isère department...

 in the département of Isère
Isère
Isère is a department in the Rhône-Alpes region in the east of France named after the river Isère.- History :Isère is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from part of the former province of Dauphiné...

, near Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

. His father, a respected provincial physician and scholar, was responsible for much of the young Berlioz's education. His father was an atheist
Atheism
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

, with a liberal outlook; his mother was an orthodox Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. He had five siblings in all, three of whom did not survive to adulthood. The other two, Nanci and Adèle, remained close to Berlioz throughout his life.

Berlioz was not a child prodigy
Child prodigy
A child prodigy is someone who, at an early age, masters one or more skills far beyond his or her level of maturity. One criterion for classifying prodigies is: a prodigy is a child, typically younger than 18 years old, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding...

, unlike some other famous composers of the time; he began studying music at age 12, when he began writing small compositions and arrangements. As a result of his father's discouragement, he never learned to play the piano, a peculiarity he later described as both beneficial and detrimental. He became proficient at guitar
Classical guitar
The classical guitar is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones...

, flageolet
Flageolet
The flageolet is a woodwind musical instrument and a member of the fipple flute family. Its invention is ascribed to the 16th century Sieur Juvigny in 1581. There are two basic forms of the instrument: the French, having four finger holes on the front and two thumb holes on the back; and the...

 and flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

. He learned harmony by textbooks alone—he was not formally trained. The majority of his early compositions were romances and chamber pieces
Chamber music
Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part...

.

While yet at age 12, as recalled in his Mémoires
Mémoires (Berlioz)
The Mémoires de Hector Berlioz are an autobiography by French composer Hector Berlioz. First serialised in several contemporary journals including Journal des Débats and Le Monde Illustré, their compilation into one book was completed on New Year's Day, 1865 and after much proof-reading, an initial...

, he experienced his first passion for a woman, an 18 year old next door neighbour named Estelle Fornier (née Dubœuf). Berlioz appears to have been innately Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, this characteristic manifesting itself in his love affairs
Affair
Affair may refer to professional, personal, or public business matters or to a particular business or private activity of a temporary duration, as in family affair, a private affair, or a romantic affair.-Political affair:...

, adoration of great romantic literature
Romantic poetry
Romanticism, a philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural era which began in the mid/late-1700s as a reaction against the prevailing Enlightenment ideals of the day , also influenced poetry...

, and his weeping at passages by Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

  (by age twelve he had learned to read Virgil in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and translate it into French under his father's tutelage), Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, and Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

.

Paris

In March 1821, he graduated from high school in Grenoble, and in October, at age 18, Berlioz was sent to Paris to study medicine, a field for which he had no interest and, later, outright disgust after viewing a human corpse being dissected. (He gives a colorful account in his Mémoires.) He began to take advantage of the institutions he now had access to in the city, including his first visit to the Paris Opéra
Paris Opera
The Paris Opera is the primary opera company of Paris, France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d'Opéra and shortly thereafter was placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully and renamed the Académie Royale de Musique...

, where he saw Iphigénie en Tauride
Iphigénie en Tauride
Iphigénie en Tauride is an opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck in four acts. It was his fifth opera for the French stage. The libretto was written by Nicolas-François Guillard....

by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

, a composer whom he came to admire above all, jointly alongside Ludwig van Beethoven.

He also began to visit the Paris Conservatoire
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 library, seeking out scores
Sheet music
Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

 of Gluck's operas and making personal copies of parts of them. He recalled in his Mémoires his first encounter with Luigi Cherubini
Luigi Cherubini
Luigi Cherubini was an Italian composer who spent most of his working life in France. His most significant compositions are operas and sacred music. Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest of his contemporaries....

, the Conservatoire's then music director. Cherubini attempted to throw the impetuous Berlioz out of the library since he was not a formal music student at that time. Berlioz also heard two operas by Gaspare Spontini
Gaspare Spontini
Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini was an Italian opera composer and conductor, extremely celebrated in his time, though largely forgotten after his death.-Biography:...

, a composer who influenced him through their friendship, and whom he later championed when working as a critic. From then on, he devoted himself to composition. He was encouraged in his endeavors by Jean-François Le Sueur
Jean-François Le Sueur
Jean-François Le Sueur was a French composer, best known for his oratorios and operas.-Life:...

, director of the Royal Chapel and professor at the Conservatoire. In 1823, he wrote his first article—a letter to the journal Le corsaire defending Spontini's La vestale
La vestale
La vestale is an opera composed by Gaspare Spontini to a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy. It was first performed at the Paris Opéra in Paris on December 15, 1807 and is regarded as Spontini's masterpiece...

. By now he had composed several works including Estelle et Némorin and Le passage de la mer Rouge (The Crossing of the Red Sea) – both now lost – the latter of which convinced Lesueur to take Berlioz on as one of his private pupils.

Despite his parents' disapproval, in 1824 he formally abandoned his medical studies to pursue a career in music. He composed the Messe solennelle
Messe solennelle (Berlioz)
Messe solennelle is a setting of the Catholic Solemn Mass by the French composer Hector Berlioz. It was written in 1824, when the composer was twenty, and first performed at the church of Saint-Roch, Paris on 25 July 1825, and again at the church of Saint-Eustache in 1827. After this, Berlioz...

. This work was rehearsed and revised after the rehearsal but not performed until the following year. Berlioz later claimed to have burnt the score, but it was miraculously re-discovered in 1991. Later that year or in 1825, he began to compose the opera Les francs-juges
Les francs-juges
Les francs-juges is the title of an unfinished opera by the French composer Hector Berlioz written to a libretto by his friend Humbert Ferrand in 1826. The opera itself was abandoned by Berlioz, who destroyed most of the music...

, which was completed the following year but went unperformed. The work survives only in fragments; the overture
Overture
Overture in music is the term originally applied to the instrumental introduction to an opera...

 has been much recorded and is sometimes played in concert.

In 1826 he began attending the Conservatoire to study composition under Le Sueur and Anton Reicha
Anton Reicha
Anton Reicha was a Czech-born, later naturalized French composer. A contemporary and lifelong friend of Beethoven, Reicha is now best remembered for his substantial early contribution to the wind quintet literature and his role as a teacher – his pupils included Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz...

. He also submitted a fugue to the Prix de Rome
Prix de Rome
The Prix de Rome was a scholarship for arts students, principally of painting, sculpture, and architecture. It was created, initially for painters and sculptors, in 1663 in France during the reign of Louis XIV. It was an annual bursary for promising artists having proved their talents by...

, but was eliminated in the primary round. Winning the prize would become an obsession until he finally won it in 1830, with his new cantata every year until he succeeded at his fourth attempt. The reason for this interest in the prize was not just academic recognition. The prize included a five year pension-much needed income for the struggling composer. In 1827 he composed the Waverly overture after Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

's Waverley novels
Waverley Novels
The Waverley Novels are a long series of books by Sir Walter Scott. For nearly a century they were among the most popular and widely-read novels in all of Europe. Because he did not publicly acknowledge authorship until 1827, they take their name from Waverley , which was the first...

. He also began working as a chorus
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 singer at a vaudeville
Comédie en vaudeville
The Comédie en vaudeville was a theatrical entertainment which began in Paris towards the end of the 17th century, in which comedy was enlivened though lyrics using the melody of popular vaudeville songs.-Evolution:...

 theatre to contribute towards an income. Later that year, he saw his future wife Harriet Smithson
Harriet Smithson
Henrietta Constance Smithson was an Anglo-Irish actress, the first wife of Hector Berlioz, and the inspiration for his Symphonie Fantastique....

 at the Odéon theatre
Odéon
The Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe is one of France's six national theatres.It is located at 2 rue Corneille in the 6th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine, next to the Luxembourg Garden...

 playing Ophelia
Ophelia
Ophelia is a fictional character in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She is a young noblewoman of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes, and potential wife of Prince Hamlet.-Plot:...

 in Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

, both plays by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

. He immediately became infatuated by both actress and playwright. From then on, he began to send Harriet messages, but she considered Berlioz's letters introducing himself to her so overly passionate that she refused his advances.

In 1828 Berlioz heard Beethoven's third
Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major , also known as the Eroica , is a landmark musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.The symphony is widely regarded as a mature...

 and fifth
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

 symphonies performed at the Paris Conservatoire
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 – an experience that he found overwhelming. He also read Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

's Faust
Goethe's Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts: and . Although written as a closet drama, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages...

for the first time (in French translation), which would become the inspiration for Huit scènes de Faust (his Opus
Opus number
An Opus number , pl. opera and opuses, abbreviated, sing. Op. and pl. Opp. refers to a number generally assigned by composers to an individual composition or set of compositions on publication, to help identify their works...

 1), much later re-developed as La damnation de Faust. He also came into contact with Beethoven's string quartet
String quartet
A string quartet is a musical ensemble of four string players – usually two violin players, a violist and a cellist – or a piece written to be performed by such a group...

s and piano sonata
Piano sonata
A piano sonata is a sonata written for a solo piano. Piano sonatas are usually written in three or four movements, although some piano sonatas have been written with a single movement , two movements , five or even more movements...

s, and recognised the importance of these immediately. He began to study English so that he could read Shakespeare. Around the same time, he also began to write musical criticism.

He began and finished composition of the Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

in 1830, a work which would bring Berlioz much fame and notoriety. He entered into a relationship with – and subsequently became engaged to – Camille Moke, despite the symphony being inspired by Berlioz's obsession with Harriet Smithson. As his fourth cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

 for submittal to the Prix de Rome neared completion, the July Revolution
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

 broke out. "I was finishing my cantata when the revolution broke out", he recorded in his Mémoires, "I dashed off the final pages of my orchestral score to the sound of stray bullets coming over the roofs and pattering on the wall outside my window. On the 29th I had finished, and was free to go out and roam about Paris 'till morning, pistol in hand". Shortly later, he finally won the prize with the cantata Sardanapale. He also arranged the French national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

 La Marseillaise
La Marseillaise
"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France. The song, originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795...

and composed an overture to Shakespeare's The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

, which was the first of his pieces to play at the Paris Opéra
Paris Opera
The Paris Opera is the primary opera company of Paris, France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d'Opéra and shortly thereafter was placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully and renamed the Académie Royale de Musique...

, but an hour before the performance began, quite ironically, a sudden storm created the worst rain in Paris for 50 years, meaning the performance was almost deserted. Berlioz met Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 who was also attending the concert. This proved to be the beginning of a long friendship. Liszt would later transcribe the entire Symphonie fantastique for piano to enable more people to hear it.

Italy

On 30 December 1831, Berlioz left France for Rome, prompted by a clause in the Prix de Rome
Prix de Rome
The Prix de Rome was a scholarship for arts students, principally of painting, sculpture, and architecture. It was created, initially for painters and sculptors, in 1663 in France during the reign of Louis XIV. It was an annual bursary for promising artists having proved their talents by...

which required winners to spend two years studying there. Although none of his major works were actually written in Italy, his travels and experiences there would later influence and inspire much of his music. This is most evident in the thematic aspects of his music, particularly Harold en Italie (1834), a work inspired by Lord Byron's Childe Harold
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is a lengthy narrative poem in four parts written by Lord Byron. It was published between 1812 and 1818 and is dedicated to "Ianthe". The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks...

. Berlioz later recalled that his, "intention was to write a series of orchestral scenes, in which the solo viola would be involved as a more or less active participant [with the orchestra] while retaining its own character. By placing it among the poetic memories formed from my wanderings in Abruzzi
Abruzzo
Abruzzo is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east...

, I wanted to make the viola a kind of melancholy dreamer in the manner of Byron's Childe-Harold."

While in Rome, he stayed at the French Academy
French Academy in Rome
The French Academy in Rome is an Academy located in the Villa Medici, within the Villa Borghese, on the Pincio in Rome, Italy.-History:...

 in the Villa Medici
Villa Medici
The Villa Medici is a mannerist villa and an architectural complex with a garden contiguous with the larger Borghese gardens, on the Pincian Hill next to Trinità dei Monti in Rome, Italy. The Villa Medici, founded by Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and now property of the French...

. He found the city distasteful, writing, "Rome is the most stupid and prosaic city I know; it is no place for anyone with head or heart." He therefore made an effort to leave the city as often as possible, making frequent trips to the surrounding country. During one of these trips, while Berlioz enjoyed an afternoon of sailing, he encountered a group of Carbonari
Carbonari
The Carbonari were groups of secret revolutionary societies founded in early 19th-century Italy. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in Spain, France, Portugal and possibly Russia. Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal focus, they lacked a...

. These were members of a secret society of Italian patriots based in France with the aim of creating a unified Italy.

During his stay in Italy, he received a letter from the mother of his fiancée informing him that she had called off their engagement. Instead her daughter was to marry Camille Pleyel (son of Ignaz Pleyel
Ignaz Pleyel
Ignace Joseph Pleyel , ; was an Austrian-born French composer and piano builder of the Classical period.-Early years:...

), a rich piano manufacturer. Enraged, Berlioz decided to return to Paris and take revenge on Pleyel, his fiancée, and her mother by killing all three of them. He created an elaborate plan, going so far as to purchase a dress, wig and hat with a veil (with which he was to disguise himself as a woman in order to gain entry to their home). He even stole a pair of double-barrelled pistols from the Academy to kill them with, saving a single shot for himself. Meticulously careful, Berlioz purchased phial
Vial
A vial is a relatively small glass vessel or bottle, especially used to store medication as liquids, powders or in other forms like capsules. They can also be sample vessels; e.g., for use in autosampler devices in analytical chromatography.The glass can be colourless or coloured, clear or amber...

s of strychnine
Strychnine
Strychnine is a highly toxic , colorless crystalline alkaloid used as a pesticide, particularly for killing small vertebrates such as birds and rodents. Strychnine causes muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia or sheer exhaustion...

 and laudanum
Laudanum
Laudanum , also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight ....

 to use as poisons in the event of a pistol jamming.

Despite this careful planning, Berlioz failed to carry through with the plot. By the time he had reached Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, he realised he left his disguise in the side pocket of a carriage during his journey. After arriving in Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 (at that time, part of Italy), he reconsidered the entire plan, deciding it to be inappropriate and foolish. He sent a letter to the Academy in Rome, requesting that he be allowed to return. This request was accepted, and he prepared for his trip back.

Before returning to Rome, Berlioz composed the overtures
Overtures by Hector Berlioz
The French composer Hector Berlioz wrote a number of overtures, many of which have become popular concert items. They include overtures intended to introduce operas as well as independent concert overtures.-Les francs-juges:...

 to King Lear
King Lear
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

in Nice and Rob Roy
Rob Roy (novel)
Rob Roy is a historical novel by Walter Scott. It is narrated by Frank Osbaldistone, the son of an English merchant who travels first to the North of England, and subsequently to the Scottish Highlands to collect a debt stolen from his father. On the way he encounters the larger-than-life title...

, and began work on a sequel to the Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

, Le retour à la vie (The Return to Life)
Lelio
Lélio, ou le Retour à la Vie Op. 14b is a work incorporating music and spoken text by the French composer Hector Berlioz, intended as a sequel to his Symphonie fantastique...

, renamed Lélio in 1855.

Upon his return to Rome, Berlioz posed for a portrait painting by Émile Signol
Émile Signol
Émile Signol was a French artist, born in Paris. Signol died in Montmorency, Val-d'Oise. Although he lived during the Romantic period, his classical background kept him from succumbing to Impressionism or Romanticism....

 (completed in April 1832), which Berlioz did not consider to be a good likeness of himself.

Berlioz continued to travel throughout his stay in Italy. He visited Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

, Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, Milan, Tivoli, Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 and Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

. Italy was important in providing Berlioz with experiences that would be impossible in France. At times, it was as if he himself was actually experiencing the Romantic tales of Byron in person; consorting with brigands
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

, corsair
Corsair
Corsairs were privateers, authorized to conduct raids on shipping of a nation at war with France, on behalf of the French Crown. Seized vessels and cargo were sold at auction, with the corsair captain entitled to a portion of the proceeds...

s, and peasants. He returned to Paris in November 1832.

Decade of productivity

Between 1830 and 1840, Berlioz wrote many of his most popular and enduring works. The foremost of these are the Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

(1830), Harold en Italie (1834), the Grande messe des morts
Requiem (Berlioz)
The Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5 by Hector Berlioz was composed in 1837. The Grande Messe des Morts is one of Berlioz's best-known works, with a tremendous orchestration of woodwind and brass instruments, including four antiphonal offstage brass ensembles placed at the corners of the concert stage...

(Requiem) (1837) and Roméo et Juliette (1839).

On Berlioz's return to Paris, a concert including Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

(which had been extensively revised in Italy) and Le retour à la vie
Lelio
Lélio, ou le Retour à la Vie Op. 14b is a work incorporating music and spoken text by the French composer Hector Berlioz, intended as a sequel to his Symphonie fantastique...

was performed, with among others in attendance: Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, Alexandre Dumas, Heinrich Heine
Heinrich Heine
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann...

, Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique...

, Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

, Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

, George Sand
George Sand
Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant , best known by her pseudonym George Sand , was a French novelist and memoirist.-Life:...

, Alfred de Vigny
Alfred de Vigny
Alfred Victor de Vigny was a French poet, playwright, and novelist.-Life:Alfred de Vigny was born in Loches into an aristocratic family...

, Théophile Gautier
Théophile Gautier
Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, art critic and literary critic....

, Jules Janin
Jules Janin
Jules Gabriel Janin was a French writer and critic.-Biography:Born in Saint-Étienne , Janin's father was a lawyer, and he was educated first at St. Étienne, and then at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris...

 and Harriet Smithson. At this time, Berlioz also met playwright Ernest Legouvé
Ernest Legouvé
Gabriel Jean Baptiste Ernest Wilfrid Legouvé was a French dramatist.-Biography:Son of the poet Gabriel-Marie Legouvé , he was born in Paris. His mother died in 1810, and almost immediately afterwards his father was removed to a lunatic asylum. The child, however, inherited a considerable fortune,...

 who became a lifelong friend. A few days after the performance, Berlioz and Harriet were finally introduced and entered into a relationship. Despite Berlioz not understanding spoken English and Harriet not knowing any French, on 3 October 1833, they married in a civil ceremony at the British Embassy with Liszt as one of the witnesses. The following year their only child, Louis Berlioz, was born – a source of initial disappointment, anxiety and eventual pride to his father.

In 1834, virtuoso
Virtuoso
A virtuoso is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in the fine arts, at singing or playing a musical instrument. The plural form is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine form sometimes used is virtuosa...

 violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini commissioned Berlioz to compose a viola concerto
Viola concerto
The viola concerto is a concerto contrasting a viola with another body of musical instruments, usually an orchestra or chamber music ensemble. Early examples of the viola concerto include, among others, Georg Philipp Telemann's concerto in G major, and several concertos by the Stamitz clan...

, intending to premiere it as soloist. This became the symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

 for viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

 and orchestra, Harold en Italie. Paganini changed his mind about playing the piece himself when he saw the first sketches for the work; he expressed misgivings over its outward lack of complexity. The premiere of the piece was held later that year. After initially rejecting the piece, Paganini, as Berlioz's Mémoires recount, knelt before Berlioz in front of the orchestra after hearing it for the first time and proclaimed him a genius and heir to Beethoven. The next day he sent Berlioz a gift of 20,000 francs, the generosity of which left Berlioz uncharacteristically lost for words. Around this time, Berlioz decided to conduct most of his own concerts, tired as he was of conductors who did not understand his music. This decision launched what was to become a lucrative and creatively fruitful career in conducting music both by himself and other leading composers.

Berlioz composed the opera Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini (opera)
Benvenuto Cellini is an opera in two acts with music by Hector Berlioz and libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. It was the first of Berlioz's operas. The story is loosely based on the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The opera is technically very challenging...

in 1836. He was to spend much effort and money in the following decades trying to have it performed successfully. Benvenuto Cellini was premiered at the Paris Opéra on September 10, but was a failure due to a hostile audience. One of his most enduring pieces followed Benvenuto Cellini—the Grande messe des morts
Requiem (Berlioz)
The Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5 by Hector Berlioz was composed in 1837. The Grande Messe des Morts is one of Berlioz's best-known works, with a tremendous orchestration of woodwind and brass instruments, including four antiphonal offstage brass ensembles placed at the corners of the concert stage...

, first performed at Les Invalides
Les Invalides
Les Invalides , officially known as L'Hôtel national des Invalides , is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's...

 in December of that year. Its gestation was difficult; because it was a state-commissioned work much bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 had to be endured. There was also opposition from Luigi Cherubini
Luigi Cherubini
Luigi Cherubini was an Italian composer who spent most of his working life in France. His most significant compositions are operas and sacred music. Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest of his contemporaries....

, who was at the time the music director of the Paris Conservatoire
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

. Cherubini felt that a government-sponsored commission should naturally be offered to himself rather than the young Berlioz, who was considered an eccentric. Regardless of the animosity between the two composers, Berlioz learned from and admired Cherubini's music, such as the requiem.

Thanks to the money Paganini had given him after hearing Harold, Berlioz was able to pay off Harriet's and his own debt
Debt
A debt is an obligation owed by one party to a second party, the creditor; usually this refers to assets granted by the creditor to the debtor, but the term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value.A debt is created when a...

s and suspend his work as a critic. This allowed him to focus on writing the "dramatic symphony" Roméo et Juliette
Roméo et Juliette (symphony)
Roméo et Juliette is a "symphonie dramatique", a large-scale choral symphony by French composer Hector Berlioz, which was first performed on 24 November 1839. The libretto was written by Émile Deschamps and the completed work was assigned the catalogue numbers Op. 17 and H.79...

for voices, chorus and orchestra. Berlioz later identified the "love scene" from this choral symphony
Choral symphony
A choral symphony is a musical composition for orchestra, choir, sometimes with solo vocalists, which in its internal workings and overall musical architecture adheres broadly to symphonic musical form. The term "choral symphony" in this context was coined by Hector Berlioz when describing his...

, as he called it, as his favourite composition. (He considered his Requiem his best work, however: "If I were threatened with the destruction of the whole of my works save one, I should crave mercy for the Messe des morts".) It was a success both at home and abroad, unlike later great vocal works such as La damnation de Faust and Les Troyens
Les Troyens
Les Troyens is a French opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself, based on Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid...

, which were commercial failures. Roméo et Juliette was premiered in a series of three concerts later in 1839 to distinguished audiences, one including Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

.

The same year Roméo premiered, Berlioz was appointed Conservateur Adjoint (Deputy Librarian) Paris Conservatoire
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 Library. Berlioz supported himself and his family by writing musical criticism for Paris publications, primarily Journal des débats
Journal des Débats
The Journal des débats was a French newspaper, published between 1789 and 1944 that changed title several times...

for over thirty years, and also Gazette musicale and Le rénovateur. While his career as a critic and writer provided him with a comfortable income, and he had an obvious talent for writing, he came to detest the amount of time spent attending performances to review, as it severely limited his free time to promote his own composition and produce more compositions. Despite his prominent position in musical criticism, he did not use his articles to promote his own works.

Mid-life

After the 1830s, Berlioz found it increasingly difficult to achieve recognition for his music in France. As a result, he began to travel to other countries more often. Between 1842 and 1863 he traveled to Germany, England, Austria, Russia and elsewhere, where he conducted operas and orchestral music – both his own and others'. During his lifetime, Berlioz was as famous a conductor as he was as a composer.

In 1840, the Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale
Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale
Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale , Op. 15, is the fourth and last symphony by the French composer Hector Berlioz, first performed on 28 July 1840 in Paris...

was commissioned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

 of 1830. Owing to a strict deadline, it was performed only days after it was completed. The performance was held in the open air on July 28, conducted by Berlioz himself, at the Place de la Bastille
Place de la Bastille
The Place de la Bastille is a square in Paris, where the Bastille prison stood until the 'Storming of the Bastille' and its subsequent physical destruction between 14 July 1789 and 14 July 1790 during the French Revolution; no vestige of it remains....

. The piece was difficult to hear owing to the crowds and timpani
Timpani
Timpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...

 of the drum corps. This was later remedied by a concert performance a month later, and Wagner voiced his approval of the work. The following year he began but later abandoned the composition of a new opera, La nonne sanglante; some fragments survive.

In 1841, Berlioz wrote recitative
Recitative
Recitative , also known by its Italian name "recitativo" , is a style of delivery in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech...

s for a production of Weber
Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school....

's Der Freischütz
Der Freischütz
Der Freischütz is an opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber with a libretto by Friedrich Kind. It premiered on 18 June 1821 at the Schauspielhaus Berlin...

at the Paris Opéra and also orchestrated Weber's Invitation to the Dance
Invitation to the Dance (Weber)
Invitation to the Dance , Op. 65, J. 260, is a piano piece in rondo form written by Carl Maria von Weber in 1819. It is also well known in the 1841 orchestration by Hector Berlioz...

to add ballet music to it (he titled the ballet L'Invitation à la valse, and the original piano piece has often been mistitled as a result). Later that year Berlioz finished composing the song cycle Les nuits d'été
Les nuits d'été
Les nuits d'été , Op. 7, is a song cycle by the French composer Hector Berlioz. It is a setting of six poems by Théophile Gautier. The collection was completed in 1841, and initially composed for either baritone, contralto, or mezzo-soprano, and piano...

for piano and voices (later to be orchestrated). He also entered into a relationship
Intimate relationship
An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment, or sexual activity. The term is also sometimes used euphemistically for a sexual...

 with singer Marie Recio who would become his second wife.

In 1842, Berlioz embarked on a concert tour of Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Belgium from September to October. In December he began a tour in Germany which continued until the middle of next year. Towns visited included Berlin, Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Leipzig, Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

, Hechingen
Hechingen
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about south of the state capital of Stuttgart and north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.- City districts :...

, Darmstadt
Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

, Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Brunswick
Braunschweig
Braunschweig , is a city of 247,400 people, located in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser....

, Hamburg, Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 and Mannheim
Mannheim
Mannheim is a city in southwestern Germany. With about 315,000 inhabitants, Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg, following the capital city of Stuttgart....

. In Leipzig he met Felix Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

 and Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

, the latter of whom had written an enthusiastic article on the Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

. He also met Heinrich Marschner
Heinrich Marschner
Heinrich August Marschner , was the most important composer of German Romantic opera between Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, and is remembered principally for his operas Hans Heiling , Der Vampyr , and Der Templer und die Jüdin...

 in Hanover, Wagner in Dresden and Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

 in Berlin. Back in Paris, Berlioz began to compose the concert overture
Symphonic poem
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

 Le carnaval romain, based on music from Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini (opera)
Benvenuto Cellini is an opera in two acts with music by Hector Berlioz and libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. It was the first of Berlioz's operas. The story is loosely based on the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The opera is technically very challenging...

. The work was finished the following year and was premiered shortly after. Nowadays it is among the most popular of his overtures.

In early 1844, Berlioz's highly influential Treatise on Instrumentation
Treatise on Instrumentation
Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz...

was published for the first time. At this time Berlioz was producing several serialisations for music journals which would eventually be collected into his Mémoires and Les soirées de l’orchestre (Evenings with the Orchestra). He took a recuperation trip to Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 late that year, during which he composed the concert overture La tour de Nice (The Tower of Nice), later to be revised and renamed Le Corsaire. Berlioz separated from his wife Harriet, who had long since been suffering from alcohol abuse owing to the failure of her acting career, and moved in with Marie Recio. He continued to provide for Harriet for the rest of her life. He also met Mikhail Glinka
Mikhail Glinka
Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka , was the first Russian composer to gain wide recognition within his own country, and is often regarded as the father of Russian classical music...

 (whom he had initially met in Italy and who remained a close friend), who was in Paris between 1844-5 and persuaded Berlioz to embark on one of two tours of Russia. Berlioz's joke "If the Emperor of Russia wants me, then I am up for sale" was taken seriously. The two tours of Russia (the second in 1867) proved so financially successful that they secured Berlioz's finances despite the large amounts of money he was losing in writing unsuccessful compositions. In 1845 he embarked on his first large-scale concert tour of France. He also attended and wrote a report on the inauguration of a statue
Beethoven Monument, Bonn
The Beethoven Monument is a large bronze statue of Ludwig van Beethoven that stands on the Münsterplatz in Bonn, Beethoven's birthplace. It was unveiled on 12 August 1845, in honour of the 75th anniversary of the composer's birth.-Background:...

 to Beethoven in Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

, and began composing La damnation de Faust, incorporating the earlier Huit scènes de Faust. On his return to Paris, the recently completed La damnation de Faust was premiered at the Opéra-Comique
Opéra-Comique
The Opéra-Comique is a Parisian opera company, which was founded around 1714 by some of the popular theatres of the Parisian fairs. In 1762 the company was merged with, and for a time took the name of its chief rival the Comédie-Italienne at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and was also called the...

, but after two performances, the run was discontinued and the work was a popular failure (perhaps owing to its halfway status between opera and cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

), despite receiving generally favourable critical reviews. This left Berlioz heavily in debt to the tune of 5-6000 francs. Becoming ever more disenchanted with his prospects in France, he wrote:
In 1847, during a seven-month visit to England, he was appointed conductor at the London Drury Lane Theatre
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

 by its then-musical director, the popular French musician Louis Antoine Jullien
Louis Antoine Jullien
Louis Antoine Jullien was a French conductor and composer of light music.Jullien was born in Sisteron, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, and was baptised Louis George Maurice Adolphe Roche Albert Abel Antonio Alexandre Noë Jean Lucien Daniel Eugène Joseph-le-brun Joseph-Barême Thomas Thomas Thomas-Thomas...

. He was impressed with its quality when he first heard the orchestra perform at a promenade concert
Promenade concert
See The PromsAlthough the term Promenade Concert is normally associated today with the series of concerts founded in 1895 by Robert Newman and the conductor Henry Wood – a festival known today as the BBC Proms – the term originally referred to concerts in the pleasure gardens of London where the...

. In London he also learnt that he knew far more English than he had supposed, although still did not understand half of what was said in conversation. He began writing his Mémoires. During his stay in England, the February Revolution broke out in France. Berlioz arrived back in France in 1848, only to be informed that his father had died shortly after his return. He went back to his birthplace to mourn his father along with his sisters. After his return to Paris, Harriet suffered a series of strokes which left her almost paralysed. Berlioz paid for four servants to look after her on a permanent basis and visited her almost daily. He began composition of his Te Deum
Te Deum (Berlioz)
The Te Deum by Hector Berlioz was completed in 1849. It, like the earlier and more famous Grande Messe des Morts, is one of Berlioz's "architectural" works...

.

In 1850 he became head librarian at the Paris Conservatoire
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

, the only official post he would ever hold, and a valuable source of income. During this year Berlioz also conducted an experiment on his many vocal critics. He composed a work entitled the Shepherd's Farewell and performed it in two concerts under the guise of it being by a composer named Pierre Ducré. This composer was of course a fictional construct by Berlioz. The trick worked, and the critics praised the work by 'Ducré' and claimed it was an example that Berlioz would do well to follow. "Berlioz could never do that!", he recounts in his Mémoires, was one of the comments. Berlioz later incorporated the piece into La fuite en Egypte from L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ , Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. Berlioz wrote his own words for the piece. Most of it was composed in 1853 and 1854, but it also incorporates an earlier work La fuite en Egypte...

. In 1852, Liszt revived Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini (opera)
Benvenuto Cellini is an opera in two acts with music by Hector Berlioz and libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. It was the first of Berlioz's operas. The story is loosely based on the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The opera is technically very challenging...

in what was to become the "Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

 version" of the opera, containing modifications made with the approval of Berlioz. The performances were the first since the disastrous premiere of 1838. Berlioz travelled to London in the following year to stage it at Theatre Royal
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

, Covent Garden
Covent Garden
Covent Garden is a district in London on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St. Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit and vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House, which is also known as...

 but withdrew it after one performance owing to the hostile reception. It was during this visit that he witnessed a charity performance involving six thousand five hundred children singing in St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. St Paul's sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the mother...

. Harriet Smithson died in 1854. L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ , Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. Berlioz wrote his own words for the piece. Most of it was composed in 1853 and 1854, but it also incorporates an earlier work La fuite en Egypte...

was completed later that year and was well-received upon its premiere. Unusually for a late Berlioz work, it appears to have remained popular long after his death. In October, Berlioz married Marie Recio. In a letter written to his son, he said that having lived with her for so long, it was his duty to do so. In early 1855 Le retour à la vie was revised and renamed Lélio
Lelio
Lélio, ou le Retour à la Vie Op. 14b is a work incorporating music and spoken text by the French composer Hector Berlioz, intended as a sequel to his Symphonie fantastique...

. Shortly afterwards, the Te Deum
Te Deum (Berlioz)
The Te Deum by Hector Berlioz was completed in 1849. It, like the earlier and more famous Grande Messe des Morts, is one of Berlioz's "architectural" works...

received its premiere with Berlioz conducting. During a short visit to London, Berlioz had a long conversation with Wagner over dinner. A second edition of Treatise on Instrumentation
Treatise on Instrumentation
Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz...

was also published, with a new chapter detailing aspects of conducting.

Les Troyens

In 1856 Berlioz visited Weimar where he attended a performance of Benvenuto Cellini, conducted by Liszt. His time with Liszt also highlighted Berlioz's increasing lack of appreciation for Wagner's music, much to Liszt's annoyance.

Berlioz was convinced by Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein
Sayn-Wittgenstein
Sayn-Wittgenstein was a county of mediæval Germany, located in the Sauerland of eastern North Rhine-Westphalia. Sayn-Wittgenstein was created when Count Salentin of Sayn-Homburg married the heiress Countess Adelaide of Wittgenstein in 1345...

 – with whom he had corresponded for some time – that he should begin to compose a new opera. This work would eventually become Les Troyens
Les Troyens
Les Troyens is a French opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself, based on Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid...

, a monumental grand opera
Grand Opera
Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterised by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events...

 with a libretto
Libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 (which he wrote himself) based on Books Two and Four of Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

. The idea of creating an opera based on the Aeneid had already been in his mind several years, by the time Sayn-Wittgenstein had approached him, and despite a long disillusionment, his creative flame seems to have remained lit. Les Troyens proved to be a very personal work for Berlioz, as it paid homage to his first literary
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 love, whom he still cherished- even after his discoveries of Shakespeare and Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

. The opera was planned around five acts, similar in size to the grand opera of Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

. It was composed with the Paris Opéra in mind, a most prestigious venue. Berlioz's chances of securing a production in which his work would receive attention equal to its merits were negligible from the start – a fact he must have been aware of. Despite these grim prospects, Berlioz saw the work through to its completion in 1858.

The onset of an intestinal illness
Digestive disease
All diseases that pertain to the gastrointestinal tract are labelled as digestive diseases. This includes diseases of the esophagus, stomach, first, second, and third part of the duodenum, jejunum, ileum, the ileo-cecal complex, large intestine , sigmoid colon, and rectum.-Esophagus:*Esophagitis -...

 which would plague Berlioz for the rest of his life had now become apparent to him. During a visit to Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden
Baden-Baden is a spa town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is located on the western foothills of the Black Forest, on the banks of the Oos River, in the region of Karlsruhe...

, Edouard Bénazet commissioned a new opera from Berlioz, but due to the illness that opera was never written. Two years later, however, Berlioz instead began work on Béatrice et Bénédict
Béatrice et Bénédict
Béatrice et Bénédict is an opera in two acts by Hector Berlioz. Berlioz wrote the French libretto himself, based closely on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing....

, which Bénazet accepted; it was completed on 25 February 1862. As for Les Troyens, in 1860 the Théâtre Lyrique
Théâtre Lyrique
The Théâtre Lyrique was one of four opera companies performing in Paris during the middle of the 19th century . The company was founded in 1847 as the Opéra-National by the French composer Adolphe Adam and renamed Théâtre Lyrique in 1852...

 in Paris had agreed to stage it, only to reject it the following year. It was soon picked up again by the Paris Opéra.

Marie Recio, Berlioz's wife, died unexpectedly of a stroke at the age of 48, on 13 June 1862. Berlioz soon met a young woman named Amélie at Montmartre Cemetery
Montmartre Cemetery
Montmartre Cemetery is a cemetery in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, France.-History:Cemeteries had been banned from Paris since the shutting down of the Cimetière des Innocents in 1786, as they presented health hazards...

, and though she was only 24, they developed a close relationship.

The first performances of Béatrice et Bénédict were held at Baden-Baden on 9th and August 11. The work had had extensive rehearsals for many months, and despite problems Berlioz found in making the musicians play as delicately as he would like, and even discovering that the orchestra pit
Orchestra pit
An orchestra pit is the area in a theater in which musicians perform. Orchestral pits are utilized in forms of theatre that require music or in cases when incidental music is required...

 was too small before the premiere, the work was a success. Berlioz later remarked that his conducting was much improved owing to the considerable pain he was in on the day, allowing him to be "emotionally detached" and "less excitable". Béatrice was sung by Madame Charton-Demeur. Both she and her husband were staunch supporters of Berlioz's music, and she was present at Berlioz's deathbed.

Les Troyens was dropped by the Paris Opéra with the excuse that it was too expensive to stage; it was replaced by Wagner's Tannhäuser
Tannhäuser (opera)
Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg...

. The work was attacked by his opponents for its length and demands, and with memories of the failure of Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini (opera)
Benvenuto Cellini is an opera in two acts with music by Hector Berlioz and libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. It was the first of Berlioz's operas. The story is loosely based on the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The opera is technically very challenging...

at the Opéra were still fresh. It was then accepted by the new director of the recently re-built Théâtre-Lyrique. In 1863 Berlioz published his last signed article for the Journal des débats
Journal des Débats
The Journal des débats was a French newspaper, published between 1789 and 1944 that changed title several times...

. After resigning, an act which should have raised his spirits given how much he detested his job, his disillusionment became even stronger. He also busied himself judging entrants for the Prix de Rome
Prix de Rome
The Prix de Rome was a scholarship for arts students, principally of painting, sculpture, and architecture. It was created, initially for painters and sculptors, in 1663 in France during the reign of Louis XIV. It was an annual bursary for promising artists having proved their talents by...

 – arguing successfully for the eventual winner, the 21 year old Jules Massenet
Jules Massenet
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer best known for his operas. His compositions were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and he ranks as one of the greatest melodists of his era. Soon after his death, Massenet's style went out of fashion, and many of his operas...

. Amélie requested that they end their relationship, which Berlioz did, to his despair. The staging of Les Troyens was fraught with difficulties when performed in a truncated form at the Théâtre-Lyrique. It was eventually premiered on November 4 and ran for 21 performances until December 20. Madame Charton-Demeur sang the role of Didon. It was first performed in Paris without cuts as recently as 2003 at the Théâtre du Châtelet
Théâtre du Châtelet
The Théâtre du Châtelet is a theatre and opera house, located in the place du Châtelet in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France.One of two theatres built on the site of a châtelet, a small castle or fortress, it was designed by Gabriel Davioud at the request of Baron Haussmann between 1860 and...

, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner
John Eliot Gardiner
Sir John Eliot Gardiner CBE FKC is an English conductor. He founded the Monteverdi Choir , the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique...

.

Later years

In 1864 Berlioz was made Officier de la Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

. On August 22, Berlioz heard from a friend that Amélie, who had been suffering from poor health, had died at the age of 26. A week later, while walking in the Montmartre Cemetery
Montmartre Cemetery
Montmartre Cemetery is a cemetery in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, France.-History:Cemeteries had been banned from Paris since the shutting down of the Cimetière des Innocents in 1786, as they presented health hazards...

, he discovered Amélie's grave: she had been dead for six months. By now, many of Berlioz's friends and family had died, including both of his sisters. Events like these became all too common in his later life, as his continued isolation from the musical scene increased as the focus shifted to Germany. He wrote:

Berlioz met Estelle Fornier – the object of his childhood affections – in Lyon for the first time in 40 years, and began a regular correspondence with her. Berlioz soon realised that he still longed for her, and eventually she had to inform him that there was no possibility that they could become closer than friends. By 1865, an initial printing of 1200 copies of his Mémoires was completed. A few copies were distributed amongst his friends, but the bulk were, slightly morbidly, stored in his office at the Paris Conservatoire
Conservatoire de Paris
The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795, now situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France...

, to be sold upon his death. He travelled to Vienna in December 1866 to conduct the first complete performance there of La damnation de Faust. In 1867 Berlioz's son Louis, a merchant shipping captain, died of yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 in Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

. After learning this, Berlioz burnt a large number of documents and other mementos which he had accumulated during his life, keeping only a conducting baton
Baton (conducting)
A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to exaggerate and enhance the manual and bodily movements associated with directing an ensemble of musicians. They are generally made of a light wood, fiberglass or carbon fiber which is tapered to a grip shaped like a pear, drop, cylinder...

 given to him by Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

 and a guitar
Classical guitar
The classical guitar is a 6-stringed plucked string instrument from the family of instruments called chordophones...

 given to him by Paganini
Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique...

. He then wrote his will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

. The intestinal pains had been gradually increasing, and had now spread to his stomach, and whole days were passed in agony. At times he experienced spasm
Spasm
In medicine a spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ, or a similarly sudden contraction of an orifice. It is sometimes accompanied by a sudden burst of pain, but is usually harmless and ceases after a few minutes...

s in the street so intense that he could barely move. Later that year he embarked on his second concert tour of Russia, which would also be his last of any kind. The tour was extremely lucrative for him, so much so that Berlioz turned down an offer of 100,000 francs from American Steinway
Steinway & Sons
Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway , is an American and German manufacturer of handmade pianos, founded 1853 in Manhattan in New York City by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg...

 to perform in New York. In Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Berlioz experienced a special pleasure at performing with the "first-rate" orchestra of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory
Saint Petersburg Conservatory
The N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory is a music school in Saint Petersburg. In 2004, the conservatory had around 275 faculty members and 1,400 students.-History:...

. He returned to Paris in 1868, exhausted, with his health damaged due to the Russian winter. He immediately traveled to Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 to recuperate in the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 climate, but slipped on some rocks by the sea shore, possibly due to a stroke, and had to return to Paris, where he lived as an invalid
Patient
A patient is any recipient of healthcare services. The patient is most often ill or injured and in need of treatment by a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, veterinarian, or other health care provider....

. In August 1868, he made his last trip to Grenoble
Grenoble
Grenoble is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps where the river Drac joins the Isère. Located in the Rhône-Alpes region, Grenoble is the capital of the department of Isère...

 where lived his sister and her family. Invited by Mayor Jean Vendre during three days of festivities for the inauguration of a statue of Napoleon, he presided a music festival.

On 8 March 1869, Berlioz died at his Paris home, No.4 rue de Calais, at 30 minutes past midday. He was surrounded by friends at the time. His funeral was held at the recently completed Église de la Trinité on March 11, and he was buried in Montmartre Cemetery
Montmartre Cemetery
Montmartre Cemetery is a cemetery in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, France.-History:Cemeteries had been banned from Paris since the shutting down of the Cimetière des Innocents in 1786, as they presented health hazards...

 with his two wives, who were exhumed and re-buried next to him. His last words were reputed to be "Enfin, on va jouer ma musique" ("At last, they are going to play my music").

Religious views

Berlioz often stated in his letters that he was an atheist. In a letter which was written shortly before his death, he wrote in regard to religion, "I believe nothing." The Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

,
for its part, claims Berlioz as a Catholic, but appears to concede that he did not remain faithful to Catholicism.

Berlioz as a conductor

Berlioz's work as a conductor was highly influential and brought him fame across Europe. He was considered by Charles Hallé
Charles Hallé
Sir Charles Hallé was an Anglo-German pianist and conductor, and founder of The Hallé orchestra in 1858.-Life:Hallé was born in Hagen, Westphalia, Germany who after settling in England changed his name from Karl Halle...

, Hans von Bülow
Hans von Bülow
Hans Guido Freiherr von Bülow was a German conductor, virtuoso pianist, and composer of the Romantic era. He was one of the most famous conductors of the 19th century, and his activity was critical for establishing the successes of several major composers of the time, including Richard...

 and others to be the greatest conductor of his era. Berlioz initially began conducting due to frustrations over the inability of other conductors – more used to performing older and simpler music – to master his advanced and progressive works, with their extended melodies and rhythmic complexity. He began with more enthusiasm than mastery, and was not formally trained, but through perseverance his skills improved. He was also willing to take advice from others, as evidenced by Spontini
Gaspare Spontini
Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini was an Italian opera composer and conductor, extremely celebrated in his time, though largely forgotten after his death.-Biography:...

 criticising his early use of large gestures while conducting. One year later, according to Hallé
Charles Hallé
Sir Charles Hallé was an Anglo-German pianist and conductor, and founder of The Hallé orchestra in 1858.-Life:Hallé was born in Hagen, Westphalia, Germany who after settling in England changed his name from Karl Halle...

, his movements were much more economical, enabling him to control more nuance in the music. His expert understanding of the way the sound of each instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

 interacts with each other (demonstrated in his Treatise on Instrumentation
Treatise on Instrumentation
Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz...

) was attested to by the critic Louis Engel, who mentions how Berlioz once noticed, amidst an orchestral tutti
Tutti
Tutti is an Italian word literally meaning all or together and is used as a musical term, for the whole orchestra as opposed to the soloist...

, a minute pitch difference between two clarinet
Clarinet
The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

s. Engel offers an explanation of Berlioz's ability to detect such things as in part due to the sheer nervous energy he was experiencing during conducting.

Despite this talent, Berlioz never held an employed position of conductor during his lifetime, forced to be content with only guest conducting. This was almost not the case. In late 1835, he was approached by the management of a new concert hall in Paris, the Gymnase Musical, and offered a position as their musical director. To Berlioz this was an ideal opportunity. Not only would it give him a large annual salary (between 6000 to 12,000 francs), but it would also give him a platform from which to perform his own music, and the music of fellow progressives. Berlioz accepted the offer, and signed the contract for the position. However, a new decree issued by the revolutionary government forced him to change his mind. The obstacle was one of the many restrictions that the revolutionary government had placed on the running of musical establishments, forbidding the performance of vocal music, so they did not compete with the influential Paris Opéra (among other organisations). There were passionate arguments and attempts to circumvent this restriction, but they fell on deaf ears, and the Gymnase Musical became a dance hall instead. This left Berlioz dejected, and would prove to have been a crucial cross-roads in his life, forcing him to work long hours as a critic, which severely impaired his free time available for composition.

From then on, he conducted at many different occasions, but mainly during grand tours of various countries where he was paid handsomely for visiting. In particular, towards the end of his life, he made a lot of money by touring Russia twice, the final visit proving extremely lucrative and also being the final conducting tour before his death. This enabled him not only to perform his music to a wider audience, but also to increase his influence across Europe – for example, his orchestration was studied by many Russian composers. Not just fellow hyper-Romantic Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, but also members of The Five
The Five
The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie , refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin...

 are indebted to these techniques, including Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, but even Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

 – often portrayed as uninterested in refined orchestration – revered Berlioz and died with a copy of Berlioz's Treatise on Instrumentation on his bed. Similarly, his conducting technique as described by contemporary sources appears to set the groundwork for the clarity and precision favoured in the French School of conducting right up to the present, exemplified by such figures as Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux was an orchestra conductor. Born in Paris, France, Monteux later became an American citizen.-Life and career:Monteux was born in Paris in 1875. His family was descended from Sephardi Jews who came to France in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition. He studied violin from an early age,...

, Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht
Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht
Désiré-Émile Inghelbrecht was a French composer, conductor and writer.- Life and career :Inghelbrecht was born in Paris, the son of a viola-player. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire and made his debut as a conductor in 1908 at the Théâtre des Arts.Inghelbrecht entered the Conservatoire aged 7...

, Paul Paray
Paul Paray
Paul Paray was a French conductor, organist and composer. He is best remembered in the United States for being the resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for more than a decade. He married Yolande Falck on 25 August 1944.-Biography:Paray's father, Auguste, was a sculptor and organist...

, Charles Munch, André Cluytens
André Cluytens
André Cluytens was a Belgian-born French conductor who was active in the concert hall, opera house and recording studio. His repertoire extended from Viennese classics through French composers to 20th century works...

, Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez is a French composer of contemporary classical music, a pianist, and a conductor.-Early years:Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music and mathematics...

 and Charles Dutoit
Charles Dutoit
Charles Édouard Dutoit, is a Swiss conductor, particularly noted for his interpretations of French and Russian 20th century music...

.

Legacy

Although neglected in France for much of the 19th century, the music of Berlioz has often been cited as extremely influential in the development of the symphonic form, instrumentation, and the depiction in music of programmatic and literary ideas, features central to musical Romanticism
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

. He was considered extremely progressive for his day, and he, Wagner, and Liszt have been called the "Great Trinity of Progress" of 19th century Romanticism. Richard Pohl
Richard Pohl
Richard Pohl was a German music critic, writer, poet, and amateur composer. He figured prominently in the mid-century War of the Romantics, taking the side opposite Eduard Hanslick, and championing the "Music of the Future" .Pohl was born in Leipzig...

, the German critic in Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

's musical journal, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik
Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik was a music magazine published in Leipzig, co-founded by Robert Schumann, his teacher and future father-in law Friedrich Wieck, and his close friend Ludwig Schuncke...

, called Berlioz "the true pathbreaker". Liszt was an enthusiastic performer and supporter, and Wagner himself, after first expressing great reservations about Berlioz, wrote to Liszt saying: "we, Liszt, Berlioz and Wagner, are three equals, but we must take care not to say so to him." As Wagner here implies, Berlioz himself was indifferent to the idea of what was called "la musique du passé" (music of the past), and clearly influenced both Liszt and Wagner (and other forward-looking composers) although he increasingly began to dislike many of their works. Wagner's remark also suggests the strong ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one's ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one's own. The ethnocentric individual will judge other groups relative to his or her own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with...

 characteristic of European composers of the time on both sides of the Rhine. Berlioz not only influenced Wagner through his orchestration and breaking of conventional forms, but also in his use of the idée fixe in the Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

which foreshadows the leitmotif
Leitmotif
A leitmotif , sometimes written leit-motif, is a musical term , referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe...

. Liszt came to see Berlioz not only as a composer to support, but also to learn from, considering Berlioz an ally in his aim for "A renewal of music through its closer union with poetry".

During his centenary in 1903, while receiving attention from all leading musical reference books, he was still not generally accepted as being one of the great composers. Some of his music was still in neglect and his following was smaller than other, mainly German, composers. Even half a century did not change much, and it took until the 1960s for the right questions to be asked about his work, and for it to be viewed in a more balanced and sympathetic light. One of the pivotal events in this fresh ignition of interest in the composer was a performance of Les Troyens
Les Troyens
Les Troyens is a French opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself, based on Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid...

by Rafael Kubelík
Rafael Kubelík
Rafael Jeroným Kubelík was a Czech conductor and composer.-Early life:Kubelík was born in Býchory, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary, today's Czech Republic. He was the sixth child of the Bohemian violinist Jan Kubelík, whom the younger Kubelík described as "a kind of god to me." His mother was a Hungarian...

 in 1957 at Covent Garden
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

. The music of Berlioz enjoyed a revival during the 1960s and 1970s, due in large part to the efforts of French conductor Charles Munch and of British conductor Sir Colin Davis
Colin Davis
Sir Colin Rex Davis, CH, CBE is an English conductor. His repertoire is broad, but among the composers with whom he is particularly associated are Mozart, Berlioz, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tippett....

, who recorded his entire oeuvre
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

, bringing to light a number of Berlioz's lesser-known works. An unusual (but telling) example of the increase of Berlioz's fame in the 60s was an explosion of forged autograph
Autograph
An autograph is a document transcribed entirely in the handwriting of its author, as opposed to a typeset document or one written by an amanuensis or a copyist; the meaning overlaps with that of the word holograph.Autograph also refers to a person's artistic signature...

s, manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s, and letters, evidently created to cater for a much greater interest in the composer. Davis's recording of Les Troyens was the first near-complete recording of that work. The work, which Berlioz never saw staged in its entirety during his life, is now a part of the international repertoire, if still something of a rarity. Les Troyens was the first opera performed at the newly built Opéra Bastille
Opéra Bastille
L'Opéra Bastille ' is a modern opera house in Paris, France. It is the home base of the Opéra national de Paris and was designed to replace the Palais Garnier, which is nowadays mainly used for ballet performances....

 in Paris on 17 March 1990 in a production claimed to be complete, but lacking the ballets.

In 2003, the bicentenary of Berlioz's birth, his achievements and status are much more widely recognised, and his music is viewed as both serious and original, rather than an eccentric novelty. Newspaper articles reported his colourful life with zeal, very many festivals dedicated to the composer were held, readings of his books and a one-hour French television dramatised biography all helped to create a lot of exposure to the composer's life and music – far more than the previous centenary anniversary. Numerous recording projects were begun or reissued, and broadcasts of his music increased. Prominent Berlioz conductor Colin Davis had already been in the process of recording much of Berlioz's music on the LSO Live label, and has continued this project to this date with a L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ , Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. Berlioz wrote his own words for the piece. Most of it was composed in 1853 and 1854, but it also incorporates an earlier work La fuite en Egypte...

recording issued in 2007. The internet was also a factor in the celebrations, with the comprehensive hberlioz.com site (which has been online since 1997) being an easily available source of information to anyone interested in the composer. The 'Berlioz 2003' celebrations, organised by French academic institutions, also had a prominent website, listing events, publications and gatherings the domain of which has now lapsed. There was also a site maintained by the Association nationale Hector Berlioz. A proposal was made to remove his remains to the Panthéon
Panthéon, Paris
The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens...

, and while initially encouraged by French President
President of the French Republic
The President of the French Republic colloquially referred to in English as the President of France, is France's elected Head of State....

 Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

, it was postponed by him, claimed to be because it was too shortly after Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, , born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world...

 was moved there. He may have also been influenced by a political dispute over Berlioz's worthiness as a republican, since Berlioz, who regularly met kings and princes, had severely criticized the 1848 Revolution, speaking of the "odious and stupid republic". There were also objections from supporters of Berlioz, some of whom claimed that Berlioz was an anti-establishment figure and would have no interest in such a ceremony, and that he was happy to be buried next to his two wives in the location he has been in for almost 150 years. Since Chirac retired as President, the future of Berlioz's resting place is still unclear.

Literature

Berlioz had a keen affection for literature, and many of his best compositions are inspired by literary works. For Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

, Berlioz was inspired in part by Thomas de Quincey
Thomas de Quincey
Thomas Penson de Quincey was an English esssayist, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater .-Child and student:...

's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater is an autobiographical account written by Thomas De Quincey, about his laudanum addiction and its effect on his life...

. For La damnation de Faust, Berlioz drew on Goethe's
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 Faust
Goethe's Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts: and . Although written as a closet drama, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages...

; for Harold en Italie, he drew on Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS , commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement...

's Childe Harold; for Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini (opera)
Benvenuto Cellini is an opera in two acts with music by Hector Berlioz and libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. It was the first of Berlioz's operas. The story is loosely based on the memoirs of the Florentine sculptor Benvenuto Cellini. The opera is technically very challenging...

, he drew on Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini
Benvenuto Cellini was an Italian goldsmith, sculptor, painter, soldier and musician, who also wrote a famous autobiography. He was one of the most important artists of Mannerism.-Youth:...

's own autobiography. For Roméo et Juliette, Berlioz turned, of course, to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

. For his magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

, the monumental opera Les Troyens
Les Troyens
Les Troyens is a French opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself, based on Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid...

, Berlioz turned to Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid. In his last opera, the comic opera
Comic opera
Comic opera denotes a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature, usually with a happy ending.Forms of comic opera first developed in late 17th-century Italy. By the 1730s, a new operatic genre, opera buffa, emerged as an alternative to opera seria...

 Béatrice et Bénédict
Béatrice et Bénédict
Béatrice et Bénédict is an opera in two acts by Hector Berlioz. Berlioz wrote the French libretto himself, based closely on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing....

, Berlioz prepared a libretto
Libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 based loosely on Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....

. His composition "Tristia
Tristia (Berlioz)
Tristia Op. 18 is a musical work consisting of three short pieces for orchestra and chorus by the French composer Hector Berlioz. Apart from its title, it has nothing to do with the collection of Latin poems by Ovid . The individual works were composed at different times and published together in...

" (for orchestra and chorus) drew its inspiration from Shakespeare's Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

.

Shakespeare

In 1827, Berlioz watched Irish actress Harriet Smithson at the Odéon theatre
Odéon
The Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe is one of France's six national theatres.It is located at 2 rue Corneille in the 6th arrondissement of Paris on the left bank of the Seine, next to the Luxembourg Garden...

 playing Ophelia
Ophelia
Ophelia is a fictional character in the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She is a young noblewoman of Denmark, the daughter of Polonius, sister of Laertes, and potential wife of Prince Hamlet.-Plot:...

 and Juliet
Juliet Capulet
Juliet is one of the title characters in William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet, the other being Romeo. She is the daughter of old Capulet, head of the house of Capulet. The story has a long history that precedes Shakespeare himself....

 in Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

and Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

. This led to two intense infatuations. One was to Smithson, which would result in a disastrous marriage. The other was to Shakespeare, which would become a lifelong love. He followed the rest of the 1827 season closely, until the company moved to the Salle Favart, and began learning the plays from pocket translations on sale. Though the performances were in English, of which Berlioz knew virtually none, he was still able to grasp the grandeur and sublimnity of Shakespeare's language along with the richness of the plays' dramatic design.

The timing for these performances, not just for Berlioz' career but also for French Romanticism in general, could not have been more apt. Berlioz was on the verge of producing his most Romantic works—as were the writers Vigny
Alfred de Vigny
Alfred Victor de Vigny was a French poet, playwright, and novelist.-Life:Alfred de Vigny was born in Loches into an aristocratic family...

, Dumas
Alexandre Dumas, père
Alexandre Dumas, , born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie was a French writer, best known for his historical novels of high adventure which have made him one of the most widely read French authors in the world...

, Gautier
Théophile Gautier
Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, art critic and literary critic....

 and several others in attendance that night. Shakespeare served as a model for French Romanticism, with Hugo extolling Shakespeare as a challenge to French classicism and the model for the new Romantic theater.

Shakespeare for Berlioz represented the summit of poetic utterance, with the bard's veracity of dramatic expression and freedom from formal constraints resounding in the composer's spirit. More profoundly, Shakespeare became a source, by way of its dramatic truth, for Berlioz' fundamental notion of expressive truth; this was how he could call Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

"the supreme drama of my life." He read from the plays constantly, often aloud for anyone who would listen. He quoted from them for the rest of his life and would associate any personal upheaval with its Shakespearian counterpart.

Berlioz was especially taken with Shakespeare's ability to pinpoint the heart of a dramatic conflict and penetrating the secrets of intense love. These secrets, Berlioz suggested in the text of Roméo et Juliette the playwright took with him to heaven. Time and again through the years, Berlioz would distill the favorite image of a play and distill it into musical terms. Roméo et Juliette may have been the first. Later came The Tempest, King Lear, a funeral march for the final scene in Hamlet, the love scene for Les Troyens (which, some claim, Berlioz took from The Merchant of Venice), and Béatrice and Benedict.

Faust

Berlioz discovered Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

's Faust
Goethe's Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust is a tragic play in two parts: and . Although written as a closet drama, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages...

through Gérard de Nerval
Gérard de Nerval
Gérard de Nerval was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie, one of the most essentially Romantic French poets.- Biography :...

's translation, published in December 1827. Its impact on Berlioz was, again, profound and immediate, with the Faustian concept of man striking several chords with the composer. He described Shakespeare and Goethe in an 1828 letter as "the silent confidants of my suffering; they hold the key to my life." In any event, Shakespearian tragedy and Faustian mystique became of one type in his mind.

The Romantics

Simultaneous with Berlioz's discovery of Shakespeare was his immersion in the texts of true Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

. These included the works of Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer. He was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron's memoirs after his death...

, Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

 and Lord Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS , commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was a British poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement...

. All three inspired Berlioz to compose works based on theirs. He also immersed himself in Chateaubriand
François-René de Chateaubriand
François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. He is considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature.-Early life and exile:...

, E. T. A. Hoffmann, James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper
James Fenimore Cooper was a prolific and popular American writer of the early 19th century. He is best remembered as a novelist who wrote numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales, featuring frontiersman Natty Bumppo...

 and his compatriots Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, Alfred de Vigny
Alfred de Vigny
Alfred Victor de Vigny was a French poet, playwright, and novelist.-Life:Alfred de Vigny was born in Loches into an aristocratic family...

, Alfred de Musset
Alfred de Musset
Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay was a French dramatist, poet, and novelist.Along with his poetry, he is known for writing La Confession d'un enfant du siècle from 1836.-Biography:Musset was born on 11 December 1810 in Paris...

 and Gérard de Nerval
Gérard de Nerval
Gérard de Nerval was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie, one of the most essentially Romantic French poets.- Biography :...

. He later added Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

, Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary , and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style.-Early life and education:Flaubert was born on December 12, 1821, in Rouen,...

 and Théophile Gautier
Théophile Gautier
Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, art critic and literary critic....

 to his list of favorites; he also used Gautier's poems as texts for his song cycle Les nuits d'été.

Perhaps as a result of this reading and seeing himself as an archetypical tragic hero, Berlioz began to weave personal references into his music. It may in fact have been his love for Shakespeare, shared with the other young artist-heroes of 19th-century France, that drew Berlioz firmly into the brotherhood of Romanticism.

Beethoven

Berlioz writes in his Memoirs,

He was able to hear Beethoven's works through the performances of the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, an orchestra founded by François Antoine Habeneck
François Antoine Habeneck
François Antoine Habeneck was a French violinist and conductor.- Early life :Habeneck was born at Mézières, the son of a musician in a French regimental band. During his early youth, Habeneck was taught by his father, and at the age of ten played concertos in public...

 and his colleagues to promote modern orchestral music. The inaugural concert, on 9 March 1828, featured the French premiere of the Eroica Symphony
Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major , also known as the Eroica , is a landmark musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.The symphony is widely regarded as a mature...

. Despite protests from French and Italian composers, by the end of the first season Habeneck and the orchestra had also performed the Fifth Symphony
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

, the Third Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 3 (Beethoven)
The Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37, was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1800 and was first performed on 5 April 1803, with the composer as soloist. During that same performance, the Second Symphony and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives were also debuted. The composition...

, the Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, was written in 1806.The work was premiered on 23 December 1806 in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Beethoven wrote the concerto for his colleague Franz Clement, a leading violinist of the day, who had earlier given him helpful advice on...

 as well as other works.

For Berlioz the experience of hearing the Eroica brought the last and greatest revelation of the power of instrumental music as an expressive language, along with the freedom of action with which it could be expressive. He understood at once that the symphony was a dramatic form to an extent that he had not previously realized, and that in Beethoven he saw a way to the dramatic manner in which he desired to compose.

Most tellingly, hearing the Eroica inspired Berlioz to widen his horizons for the first time past opera and other vocal works and consider the expressive power of purely instrumental music. Prior to this, he had defaulted to the dominant view of the Parisian music establishment, as typified by Le Sueur
Jean-François Le Sueur
Jean-François Le Sueur was a French composer, best known for his oratorios and operas.-Life:...

: that the symphony was a lesser form of composition that Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 and Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

 had already taken as far as possible. Berlioz would go on to find instrumental music to be far more penetrating in expression and articulation than vocal setting. "Now that I have heard that terrifying giant Beethoven", he wrote, "I know exactly where my musical art stands; the question is to take it from there and push it further."

Other composers

Next to those of Beethoven, Berlioz showed deep reverence for the works of Gluck
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

, Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, Méhul
Étienne Méhul
Etienne Nicolas Méhul was a French composer, "the most important opera composer in France during the Revolution." He was also the first composer to be called a "Romantic".-Life:...

, Weber
Carl Maria von Weber
Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber was a German composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist and critic, one of the first significant composers of the Romantic school....

 and Spontini
Gaspare Spontini
Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini was an Italian opera composer and conductor, extremely celebrated in his time, though largely forgotten after his death.-Biography:...

, as well as respect for some of those of Rossini, Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer
Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

 and Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

.

Curiously perhaps, the adventures in chromaticism of his prominent contemporaries and associates Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

 and Wagner seemed to have had little effect on Berlioz's style.


Musical works

The five movement Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

, partly due to its fame, is considered by most to be Berlioz's most outstanding work, and the work had a considerable impact when first performed in 1830, 3 years after the death of Beethoven and 2 years after that of Schubert. It is famous for its innovations in the form of the programmatic symphony
Program music
Program music or programme music is a type of art music that attempts to musically render an extra-musical narrative. The narrative itself might be offered to the audience in the form of program notes, inviting imaginative correlations with the music...

. The story behind this work relates to Berlioz himself and can be considered somewhat autobiographical
Autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

.

In addition to the Symphonie fantastique, some other orchestral works of Berlioz currently in the standard orchestral repertoire include his "légende dramatique" La damnation de Faust and "symphonie dramatique" Roméo et Juliette (both large-scale works for mixed voices and orchestra), and his concertante
Sinfonia concertante
Sinfonia concertante is a musical form that emerged during the Classical period of Western music. It is essentially a mixture of the symphony and the concerto genres: a concerto in that one or more soloists are on prominent display, and a symphony in that the soloists are nonetheless discernibly a...

 symphony (for viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

 and orchestra) Harold en Italie, several concert overtures
Symphonic poem
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

 also remain enduringly popular, such as Le Corsaire and Le Carnaval romain. Amongst his more vocally-oriented works, the song cycle
Song cycle
A song cycle is a group of songs designed to be performed in a sequence as a single entity. As a rule, all of the songs are by the same composer and often use words from the same poet or lyricist. Unification can be achieved by a narrative or a persona common to the songs, or even, as in Schumann's...

 Les nuits d'été
Les nuits d'été
Les nuits d'été , Op. 7, is a song cycle by the French composer Hector Berlioz. It is a setting of six poems by Théophile Gautier. The collection was completed in 1841, and initially composed for either baritone, contralto, or mezzo-soprano, and piano...

and the oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ
L'enfance du Christ , Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. Berlioz wrote his own words for the piece. Most of it was composed in 1853 and 1854, but it also incorporates an earlier work La fuite en Egypte...

have retained enduring appeal, as have the quasi-liturgical
Christian liturgy
A liturgy is a set form of ceremony or pattern of worship. Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis....

 Te Deum
Te Deum (Berlioz)
The Te Deum by Hector Berlioz was completed in 1849. It, like the earlier and more famous Grande Messe des Morts, is one of Berlioz's "architectural" works...

and Grande messe des morts
Requiem (Berlioz)
The Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5 by Hector Berlioz was composed in 1837. The Grande Messe des Morts is one of Berlioz's best-known works, with a tremendous orchestration of woodwind and brass instruments, including four antiphonal offstage brass ensembles placed at the corners of the concert stage...

.

The unconventional music of Berlioz irritated the established concert and opera scene. Berlioz often had to arrange for his own performances as well as pay for them himself. This took a heavy toll on him financially and emotionally. The nature of his large works – sometimes involving hundreds of performers – made financial success difficult. His journalistic abilities became essential for him to make a living and he survived as a witty critic, emphasizing the importance of drama and expressiveness in musical entertainment. It was perhaps this expense which prevented Berlioz from composing more opera than he did. His talent in the genre is obvious, but opera is the most expensive of all classical
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 forms, and Berlioz in particular struggled to arrange stagings of his operas, due in part to the unwillingness of conservative Paris opera companies to perform his work.

Literary works

While Berlioz is best known as a composer, he was also a prolific writer, and supported himself for many years by writing musical criticism, utilising a bold, vigorous style, at times imperious and sarcastic
Sarcasm
Sarcasm is “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter jibe or taunt.” Though irony and understatement is usually the immediate context, most authorities distinguish sarcasm from irony; however, others argue that sarcasm may or often does involve irony or employs...

. He wrote for many journals, including the Rénovateur, Journal des débats
Journal des Débats
The Journal des débats was a French newspaper, published between 1789 and 1944 that changed title several times...

and Gazette musicale. He was active in the Débats for over thirty years until submitting his last signed article in 1863. Almost from the founding, Berlioz was a key member of the editorial board of the Gazette as well as a contributor, and acted as editor on several occasions while the owner was otherwise engaged. Berlioz took full advantage of his times as editor, allowing himself to increase his articles written on music history rather than current events, evidenced by him publishing seven articles on Gluck
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

 in the Gazette between June 1834 and January 1835. An example of the amount of work he produced is indicated in his producing over one-hundred articles for the Gazette between 1833 and 1837. This is a conservative estimate, as not all of his submissions were signed. In 1835 alone, due to one of his many times of financial difficulty, he wrote four articles for the Monde dramatique, twelve for the Gazette, nineteen for the Débats and thirty-seven for the Rénovateur. These were not mere scribbles, but in-depth articles and reviews with little duplication, which took considerable time to write.

Another noteworthy indicator of the importance Berlioz placed on journalistic integrity and even-handedness were the journals which he both did and did not write for. During the middle of the 1830s the Gazette was considered an intellectual journal, strongly supporting the progressive arts and Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in general, and opposing anything which it considers as debasing this. Exemplified in its long-standing criticism of Henri Herz
Henri Herz
Henri Herz was a pianist and composer, Austrian by birth, and French by domicile.Herz was born Heinrich Herz in Vienna...

, and his seemingly endless stream of variations on opera themes, but to its credit, it also positively reviewed his music on occasion. Its writers included Alexandre Dumas, Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

 and George Sand
George Sand
Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, later Baroness Dudevant , best known by her pseudonym George Sand , was a French novelist and memoirist.-Life:...

. The Gazette wasn't even unanimous in its praise of Berlioz's music, although it always recognised him as an important and serious composer to be respected. An example of another journal of the same time is the Revue musicale, which thrived on personal attacks, many against Berlioz himself from the pen of critic François-Joseph Fétis
François-Joseph Fétis
François-Joseph Fétis was a Belgian musicologist, composer, critic and teacher. He was one of the most influential music critics of the 19th century, and his enormous compilation of biographical data in the Biographie universelle des musiciens remains an important source of information today...

. At one point, Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

 was motivated to publish a detailed rebuttal of one of Fétis' attacks on Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique
Symphonie Fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un Artiste...en cinq parties , Op. 14, is a program symphony written by the French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. It is one of the most important and representative pieces of the early Romantic period, and is still very popular with concert audiences...

 in his own Neue Zeitschrift für Musik
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik
Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik was a music magazine published in Leipzig, co-founded by Robert Schumann, his teacher and future father-in law Friedrich Wieck, and his close friend Ludwig Schuncke...

 journal. Fétis would later contribute to the debasement of the reputation of the Gazette when his journal failed and was absorbed by the Gazette, he found himself on the editorial board.

The books which Berlioz has become acclaimed for were compiled from his journal articles. Les soirées de l’orchestre (Evenings with the Orchestra) (1852), a scathing satire of provincial
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

 musical life in 19th century France, and the Treatise on Instrumentation
Treatise on Instrumentation
Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, abbreviated in English as the Treatise on Instrumentation is a technical study of Western musical instruments, written by Hector Berlioz...

, a pedagogic
Teacher
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

 work, were both serialised originally in the Gazette musicale. Many parts of the Mémoires (1870) were originally published in the Journal des débats, as well as Le monde illustré. The Mémoires paint a magisterial (if biased) portrait of the Romantic
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 era through the eyes of one of its chief protagonists. Evenings with the Orchestra is more overtly fictional than his other two major books, but its basis in reality is its strength, making the stories it recounts all the funnier due to the ring of truth. W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

 praises it, saying "To succeed in [writing these tales], as Berlioz most brilliantly does, requires a combination of qualities which is very rare, the many-faceted curiosity of the dramatist with the aggressively personal vision of the lyric poet." The Treatise established his reputation as a master of orchestration
Orchestration
Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting for orchestra music composed for another medium...

. The work was closely studied by Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

 and Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 and served as the foundation for a subsequent textbook by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, who, as a music student, attended the concerts Berlioz conducted in Moscow and Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

.

External links


Works

  • The Lied and Art Song Texts Page List of the musical settings for most of Berlioz's major works, with translations into various languages, as maintained by Emily Ezust
  • The Complete Berlioz List of works by Berlioz @ UC Davis
    University of California, Davis
    The University of California, Davis is a public teaching and research university established in 1905 and located in Davis, California, USA. Spanning over , the campus is the largest within the University of California system and third largest by enrollment...

  • The Berlioz Song Site Scores and texts of Berlioz songs for voice and piano

Writings

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