Hector Berlioz
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1803-12-11
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Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz Biography (BBC)

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

Hector Berlioz Biography (Wikipedia)

Louis-Hector Berlioz (,; 11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer. His output includes orchestral works such as the Symphonie fantastique and Harold in Italy, choral pieces including the Requiem and L'Enfance du Christ, his three operas Benvenuto Cellini, Les Troyens and Béatrice et Bénédict, and works of hybrid genres such as the "dramatic symphony" Roméo et Juliette and the "dramatic legend" La Damnation de Faust.

The elder son of a provincial doctor, Berlioz was expected to follow his father into medicine, and he attended a Parisian medical college before defying his family by taking up music as a profession. His independence of mind and refusal to follow traditional rules and formulas put him at odds with the conservative musical establishment of Paris. He briefly moderated his style sufficiently to win France's premier music prize, the Prix de Rome, in 1830 but he learned little from the academics of the Paris Conservatoire. Opinion was divided for many years between those who thought him an original genius and those who viewed his music as lacking in form and coherence.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

Hector Berlioz Performances & Interviews


Hector Berlioz Tracks

Hector Berlioz
Romeo and Juliette (Romeo at the Tomb of the Capulets)
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Romeo and Juliette (Romeo at the Tomb of the Capulets)

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Hector Berlioz
Symphonie Fantastique, Op 14
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Symphonie Fantastique, Op 14
Hector Berlioz
Hungarian March (The Damnation of Faust)
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Hungarian March (The Damnation of Faust)
Carl Maria von Weber
Invitation to the Dance
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Invitation to the Dance
Hector Berlioz
Les Nuits D'Ete Op.7
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Les Nuits D'Ete Op.7
Hector Berlioz
Un Bal (Symphonie fantastique)
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Un Bal (Symphonie fantastique)
Hector Berlioz
The Childhood of Christ (Part 2)
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The Childhood of Christ (Part 2)
Hector Berlioz
The Childhood of Christ (Part 1)
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The Childhood of Christ (Part 1)
Hector Berlioz
Le dépit de la bergère
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Le dépit de la bergère
Hector Berlioz
Le Roi Lear, Op 4 (Overture)
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Le Roi Lear, Op 4 (Overture)
Hector Berlioz
Overture: Le Corsaire, Op.21
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Overture: Le Corsaire, Op.21
Hector Berlioz
Les nuits d'ete, Op 7
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Les nuits d'ete, Op 7
Hector Berlioz
Les Nuits d'ete, no.6; L' Ile inconnue (The Unknown Isle)
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Les Nuits d'ete, no.6; L' Ile inconnue (The Unknown Isle)
Hector Berlioz
Improvisation of themes of Hector Berlioz
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Improvisation of themes of Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Overture 'Le Corsaire' Op.21
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Overture 'Le Corsaire' Op.21
Hector Berlioz
Symphonie Fantastique (Op.14)
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Symphonie Fantastique (Op.14)
Hector Berlioz
Rêverie et caprice, Op 8
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Rêverie et caprice, Op 8
Hector Berlioz
Hungarian March (The Damnation of Faust)
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Hungarian March (The Damnation of Faust)
Hector Berlioz
Roman Carnival Overture
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Roman Carnival Overture
Hector Berlioz
Le Carnaval romain overture Op 9
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Le Carnaval romain overture Op 9
Hector Berlioz
Rêverie et caprice, Op 8
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Rêverie et caprice, Op 8
Hector Berlioz
Overture to Les francs-juges, Op 3
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Overture to Les francs-juges, Op 3
Hector Berlioz
Benvenuto Cellini (Overture)
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Benvenuto Cellini (Overture)
Hector Berlioz
Le spectre de la rose (Les nuits d'ete)
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Le spectre de la rose (Les nuits d'ete)
Hector Berlioz
L'Enfance du Christ, op. 25
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L'Enfance du Christ, op. 25
Hector Berlioz
Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 (2nd mvt)
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Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 (2nd mvt)
Hector Berlioz
Overture Beatrice and Benedict
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Overture Beatrice and Benedict
Hector Berlioz
Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14
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Symphonie Fantastique, Op.14
Hector Berlioz
Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9)
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Le Carnaval Romain - overture (Op.9)
Hector Berlioz
Le carnaval romain
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Le carnaval romain
Hector Berlioz
La Damnation de Faust (Rakoczy March)
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La Damnation de Faust (Rakoczy March)
Hector Berlioz
La Damnation de Faust - Pt. IV, Scène XVIII - La course à l'abîme & Pandaemonium
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La Damnation de Faust - Pt. IV, Scène XVIII - La course à l'abîme & Pandaemonium
Hector Berlioz
Suite from la Damnation de Faust, Op.24
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Suite from la Damnation de Faust, Op.24
Hector Berlioz
Messe Solennelle: Gloria
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Messe Solennelle: Gloria
Hector Berlioz
La Mort de Cleopatre
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La Mort de Cleopatre

La Mort de Cleopatre

Singer
Annett Andriesen
Conductor
David Robertson
Hector Berlioz
Le carnaval romain
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Le carnaval romain
Hector Berlioz
Symphonie fantastique (A Ball)
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Symphonie fantastique (A Ball)
Hector Berlioz
Villanelle (Les Nuits d'ete)
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Villanelle (Les Nuits d'ete)

Villanelle (Les Nuits d'ete)

Orchestra
Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble
Hector Berlioz
La Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march)
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La Damnation de Faust: Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march)
Hector Berlioz
Royal Hunt and Storm (The Trojans)
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Royal Hunt and Storm (The Trojans)
Hector Berlioz
L'île inconnue
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L'île inconnue
Hector Berlioz
Waverley
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Waverley
Hector Berlioz
Symphonie fantastique (Un bal)
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Symphonie fantastique (Un bal)
Hector Berlioz
Waverley Overture
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Waverley Overture
Hector Berlioz
Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march)
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Marche hongroise (Rakoczy march)
Hector Berlioz
Beatrice et Benedict: Overture
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Beatrice et Benedict: Overture
Hector Berlioz
Symphonie Fantastique (Un bal)
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Symphonie Fantastique (Un bal)
Hector Berlioz
La mort d'Ophelie (Tristia)
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La mort d'Ophelie (Tristia)
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