Hector Berlioz
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1803-12-11
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/274774a7-1cde-486a-bc3d-375ec54d552d
Hector Berlioz Hector Berlioz Hector Berlioz Hector Berlioz

Biography

Berlioz: a profoundly original composer and brilliant writer; sensitive, agnostic, humorous, sardonic. During his life, and after his death his detractors outnumbered his admirers. A century later those detractors started to die out and Berlioz is now securely seated in ...

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Biography

Berlioz: a profoundly original composer and brilliant writer; sensitive, agnostic, humorous, sardonic. During his life, and after his death his detractors outnumbered his admirers. A century later those detractors started to die out and Berlioz is now securely seated in the pantheon of great composers.

The eldest child of a country doctor, Berlioz duly enrolled in the School of Medicine in Paris. His determination to study composition was, however, so intense that he soon got himself accepted as a pupil of Jean-François Le Sueur. A seven-year apprenticeship which produced among other things his first orchestral work, the thrilling Les francs-juges Overture, culminated in 1830 when he won the prestigious Prix de Rome and single-handedly promoted the premiere of his Symphonie fantastique. This electrifying work made him notorious, not least because it included overt autobiography – his adolescent worship of Estelle Duboeuf (he was 12, she 18, when he first saw her) and his passion for Harriet Smithson, the Irish actress he was to marry.

Now began a career veering between heady success and debilitating failure. The decade after 1831 saw three more extraordinary symphonies (Harold in Italy, Romeo and Juliet, Symphonie funèbre et triomphale), the Requiem (the greatest success of his life), the opera Benvenuto Cellini (a failure) and the exquisite song cycle Les nuits d’été. But his music was so unconventional that it inevitably aroused antagonism, as did his journalism; in his secondary career as a music critic, prudence fought losing battles with artistic ideals. The positions to which he was obviously fitted – music director of the Opéra or professor at the Conservatoire – were denied him. For income he relied on his journalism, supplemented, from 1842, by concert tours abroad conducting (mostly) his own music. In Germany, Russia and England he was acclaimed the greatest conductor of his age.

The Revolution of 1848 left him contemptuous of politics, and his music became seemingly more ‘Classical’, notably in The Childhood of Christ (1854), a rare triumph. The splendours of his last great work, The Trojans (1856–8, never performed complete in his lifetime), showed, however, that his music was as modern as it had ever been. His final years were blighted by illness and then by the death of his son Louis. But a little earlier he had visited Estelle and rekindled that poignant relationship with which, if the facts were not more prosaic, one would like to think his life had become complete.

Profile © Ian Kemp

Clips (18)


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Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Carl Maria von Weber, Hector Berlioz & Sir Neville Marriner
Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant, orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano]
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Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant, orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano] Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant, orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano] Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant, orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano] Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant, orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano]
Hector Berlioz, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & Charles Dutoit
Le Carnaval romain - overture Op.9
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Le Carnaval romain - overture Op.9 Le Carnaval romain - overture Op.9 Le Carnaval romain - overture Op.9 Le Carnaval romain - overture Op.9
Hector Berlioz, Valery Gergiev & London Symphony Orchestra
Waverley - overture Op.1
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Waverley - overture Op.1 Waverley - overture Op.1 Waverley - overture Op.1 Waverley - overture Op.1
Jules Massenet, Georges Bizet, Hector Berlioz & Juan Diego Flórez
Arias by Berlioz, Bizet and Massenet
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Arias by Berlioz, Bizet and Massenet Arias by Berlioz, Bizet and Massenet Arias by Berlioz, Bizet and Massenet Arias by Berlioz, Bizet and Massenet
Carl Maria von Weber, Hector Berlioz, Herbert von Karajan & Berliner Philharmoniker
Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65
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Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65
John Nelson, Hector Berlioz & Bergen filharmoniske orkester
Overture to Les Franc-juges (Op.3)
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Overture to Les Franc-juges (Op.3) Overture to Les Franc-juges (Op.3) Overture to Les Franc-juges (Op.3) Overture to Les Franc-juges (Op.3)
Hector Berlioz, DR SymfoniOrkestret & Thomas Dausgaard
Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9)
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Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9)
Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra & Hector Berlioz
Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21)
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Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21) Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21) Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21) Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21)
Hector Berlioz, Leonard Slatkin & Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march)
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Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march) Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march) Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march) Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march)
Hector Berlioz (Mark Elder, Hallé Orchestra)
Le Corsaire - overture Op.21
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Le Corsaire - overture Op.21 Le Corsaire - overture Op.21 Le Corsaire - overture Op.21 Le Corsaire - overture Op.21
Hector Berlioz, Takuo Yuasa & Kringkastingsorkestret
King Lear Overture (Op.4)
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King Lear Overture (Op.4) King Lear Overture (Op.4) King Lear Overture (Op.4) King Lear Overture (Op.4)
James Ehnes, Hector Berlioz, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Sir Andrew Davis
Harold in Italy (Orgy of brigands)
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Harold in Italy (Orgy of brigands) Harold in Italy (Orgy of brigands) Harold in Italy (Orgy of brigands) Harold in Italy (Orgy of brigands)
Hector Berlioz, Charles Dutoit & Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Beatrice et Benedict - opera 2 acts Op.27 [libretto after Shakespeare]: Overture
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Beatrice et Benedict - opera 2 acts Op.27 [libretto after Shakespeare]: Overture Beatrice et Benedict - opera 2 acts Op.27 [libretto after Shakespeare]: Overture Beatrice et Benedict - opera 2 acts Op.27 [libretto after Shakespeare]: Overture Beatrice et Benedict - opera 2 acts Op.27 [libretto after Shakespeare]: Overture
Hector Berlioz, BBC National Orchestra of Wales & Thierry Fischer
Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21)
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Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21) Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21) Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21) Le Corsaire - overture (Op.21)
Colin Davis, Hector Berlioz & London Symphony Orchestra
Symphonie fantastique (Op.14), 2nd movement; Un Bal (Valse) (Allegro non troppo)
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Symphonie fantastique (Op.14), 2nd movement; Un Bal (Valse) (Allegro non troppo) Symphonie fantastique (Op.14), 2nd movement; Un Bal (Valse) (Allegro non troppo) Symphonie fantastique (Op.14), 2nd movement; Un Bal (Valse) (Allegro non troppo) Symphonie fantastique (Op.14), 2nd movement; Un Bal (Valse) (Allegro non troppo)

Symphonie fantastique (Op.14), 2nd movement; Un Bal (Valse) (Allegro non troppo)

Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
Last played on
Hector Berlioz, BBC Philharmonic & Vassily Sinaisky
Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14
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Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14 Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14 Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14 Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14
Hector Berlioz, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Sir Andrew Davis
Intrata di Rob-Roy Mac Gregor
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Intrata di Rob-Roy Mac Gregor Intrata di Rob-Roy Mac Gregor Intrata di Rob-Roy Mac Gregor Intrata di Rob-Roy Mac Gregor
Hector Berlioz, Юрий Абрамович Башмет, hr-Sinfonieorchester & Eliahu Inbal
Harold en Italie - symphony Op.16 for viola and orchestra: 3rd mvt; Serenade
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Harold en Italie - symphony Op.16 for viola and orchestra: 3rd mvt; Serenade Harold en Italie - symphony Op.16 for viola and orchestra: 3rd mvt; Serenade Harold en Italie - symphony Op.16 for viola and orchestra: 3rd mvt; Serenade Harold en Italie - symphony Op.16 for viola and orchestra: 3rd mvt; Serenade
Hector Berlioz, BBC Symphony Orchestra & Sir Andrew Davis
La Mort de Cleopatre
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La Mort de Cleopatre La Mort de Cleopatre La Mort de Cleopatre La Mort de Cleopatre
Hector Berlioz, Sir Andrew Davis & BBC Symphony Orchestra
Intermezzo; Chasse royale et orage [Royal hunt & storm] from Les Troyens a Carthage
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Intermezzo; Chasse royale et orage [Royal hunt & storm] from Les Troyens a Carthage Intermezzo; Chasse royale et orage [Royal hunt & storm] from Les Troyens a Carthage Intermezzo; Chasse royale et orage [Royal hunt & storm] from Les Troyens a Carthage Intermezzo; Chasse royale et orage [Royal hunt & storm] from Les Troyens a Carthage
Hector Berlioz, Bernard Haitink & Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9)
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Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval romain - overture (Op.9)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Hector Berlioz & Thierry Fischer
Overture to Les francs-juges (Op. 3)
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Overture to Les francs-juges (Op. 3) Overture to Les francs-juges (Op. 3) Overture to Les francs-juges (Op. 3) Overture to Les francs-juges (Op. 3)
James Ehnes, Hector Berlioz, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Sir Andrew Davis
Reverie et Caprice, Op 8
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Reverie et Caprice, Op 8 Reverie et Caprice, Op 8 Reverie et Caprice, Op 8 Reverie et Caprice, Op 8
Hansjörg Albrecht, Hector Berlioz & Andrea Trovato
Symphonie Fantastique – Un Bal
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Symphonie Fantastique – Un Bal Symphonie Fantastique – Un Bal Symphonie Fantastique – Un Bal Symphonie Fantastique – Un Bal
Les Siècles, Hector Berlioz, François-Xavier Roth, Jean-Francois Borras, Isabelle Druet, Aedes Ensemble & Jérôme Varnier
Romeo et Juliette - symphonie dramatique Op.17
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Romeo et Juliette - symphonie dramatique Op.17 Romeo et Juliette - symphonie dramatique Op.17 Romeo et Juliette - symphonie dramatique Op.17 Romeo et Juliette - symphonie dramatique Op.17
Soyoung Yoon, Hector Berlioz, Sinfonieorchester Basel & Ivor Bolton
Reverie et caprice
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Reverie et caprice Reverie et caprice Reverie et caprice Reverie et caprice
Hector Berlioz, London Philharmonic Orchestra & Giancarlo Guerrero
Symphonie Fantastique
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Symphonie Fantastique Symphonie Fantastique Symphonie Fantastique Symphonie Fantastique
Hector Berlioz, Arthur Schoonderwoerd & Jérôme Corréas
L'Origine de la Harpe
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L'Origine de la Harpe L'Origine de la Harpe L'Origine de la Harpe L'Origine de la Harpe
Hector Berlioz, The Philadelphia Orchestra & Charles Munch
Ballet des sylphes; (Damnation of Faust)
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Ballet des sylphes; (Damnation of Faust) Ballet des sylphes; (Damnation of Faust) Ballet des sylphes; (Damnation of Faust) Ballet des sylphes; (Damnation of Faust)
Carl Maria von Weber, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Hector Berlioz & Fritz Reiner
Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano]
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Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano] Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano] Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano] Invitation to the dance - rondo brillant orch. Berlioz [orig. for piano]
Hector Berlioz, Robin Ticciati & Karen Cargill, Scottish Chamber Orchestra,
Le spectre de la rose
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Le spectre de la rose Le spectre de la rose Le spectre de la rose Le spectre de la rose
Wanda Landowska & Hector Berlioz
Danse des sylphes (S.475) transc. for piano from "La Damnation de Faust"
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Danse des sylphes (S.475) transc. for piano from "La Damnation de Faust" Danse des sylphes (S.475) transc. for piano from "La Damnation de Faust" Danse des sylphes (S.475) transc. for piano from "La Damnation de Faust" Danse des sylphes (S.475) transc. for piano from "La Damnation de Faust"
Hector Berlioz, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Romeo et Juliette: Queen Mab Scherzo
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Romeo et Juliette: Queen Mab Scherzo Romeo et Juliette: Queen Mab Scherzo Romeo et Juliette: Queen Mab Scherzo Romeo et Juliette: Queen Mab Scherzo
Hector Berlioz, Karen Cargill, Scottish Chamber Orchestra & Robin Ticciati
Les Nuits d'ete for voice and piano or orch (Op.7), no.2; Le Spectre de la rose
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Les Nuits d'ete for voice and piano or orch (Op.7), no.2; Le Spectre de la rose Les Nuits d'ete for voice and piano or orch (Op.7), no.2; Le Spectre de la rose Les Nuits d'ete for voice and piano or orch (Op.7), no.2; Le Spectre de la rose Les Nuits d'ete for voice and piano or orch (Op.7), no.2; Le Spectre de la rose
Geoffrey Parsons, Hector Berlioz & Thomas Hampson
La Belle Voyageuse (Irlande, Op. 2 No. 4)
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La Belle Voyageuse (Irlande, Op. 2 No. 4) La Belle Voyageuse (Irlande, Op. 2 No. 4) La Belle Voyageuse (Irlande, Op. 2 No. 4) La Belle Voyageuse (Irlande, Op. 2 No. 4)
Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra & Hector Berlioz
Le Corsaire - overture Op.21
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Le Corsaire - overture Op.21 Le Corsaire - overture Op.21 Le Corsaire - overture Op.21 Le Corsaire - overture Op.21

Le Corsaire - overture Op.21

Conductor
Colin Davis
Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
Last played on
Hector Berlioz, Colin Davis & London Symphony Orchestra
Le Corsaire
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Le Corsaire Le Corsaire Le Corsaire Le Corsaire
Hector Berlioz, BBC National Orchestra of Wales & Thierry Fischer
Symphonie funebre et triomphale for military band (Op.15)
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Symphonie funebre et triomphale for military band (Op.15) Symphonie funebre et triomphale for military band (Op.15) Symphonie funebre et triomphale for military band (Op.15) Symphonie funebre et triomphale for military band (Op.15)
Hector Berlioz, Martyn Brabbins & BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Roman Carnival Overture Op.9
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Roman Carnival Overture Op.9 Roman Carnival Overture Op.9 Roman Carnival Overture Op.9 Roman Carnival Overture Op.9
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Hector Berlioz & Charles Dutoit
Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9)
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Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9) Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9)
Hector Berlioz, Bergen filharmoniske orkester & Sir Andrew Davis
Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict
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Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict
Hector Berlioz, Oslo-Filharmonien & Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Overture from Beatrice et Benedict - opera in 2 acts (Op.27)
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Overture from Beatrice et Benedict - opera in 2 acts (Op.27) Overture from Beatrice et Benedict - opera in 2 acts (Op.27) Overture from Beatrice et Benedict - opera in 2 acts (Op.27) Overture from Beatrice et Benedict - opera in 2 acts (Op.27)
Hector Berlioz, Ernest Ansermet & L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
The damnation of Faust Op.24 (excerpts)
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The damnation of Faust Op.24 (excerpts) The damnation of Faust Op.24 (excerpts) The damnation of Faust Op.24 (excerpts) The damnation of Faust Op.24 (excerpts)
Hector Berlioz, Berliner Philharmoniker, Anne Sofie von Otter & James Levine
Les Nuits d'ete Op.7 – no.1; Villanelle
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Les Nuits d'ete Op.7 – no.1; Villanelle Les Nuits d'ete Op.7 – no.1; Villanelle Les Nuits d'ete Op.7 – no.1; Villanelle Les Nuits d'ete Op.7 – no.1; Villanelle
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