L'enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family's flight into Egypt (see Gospel of Matthew 2:13). 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 (1850). It was first performed at the Salle Herz, Paris on 10 December 1854, with Berlioz conducting and soloists from the Opéra-Comique: Jourdan (Récitant), Depassio (Hérode), the couple Meillet (Marie and Joseph) and Bataille (Le père de famille).

Berlioz described L'enfance as a Trilogie sacrée (sacred trilogy). The first of its three sections depicts King Herod ordering the massacre of all newborn children in Judaea; the second shows the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus setting out for Egypt to avoid the slaughter, having been warned by angels; and the final section portrays their arrival in the Egyptian town of Sais where they are given refuge by a family of Ishmaelites. Berlioz was not religious as an adult but remained all his life susceptible to the beauty of the religious music that had enraptured him as a child. L'enfance also shows some influence from the Biblical oratorios of Berlioz's teacher Jean-François Le Sueur.

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Upcoming BBC Events featuring The Childhood of Christ

Proms 2019: Prom 37: The Childhood of Christ
https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/edmz3d
Royal Albert Hall
2019-08-14T21:34:51
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