Happy Birthday Hector!

December 11, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera | 0 Comments |

Berlioz conducting (by Louis Reybaud)

Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was treated shamefully by his countrymen.  His works were seminal and influential upon, among others, Wagner himself.

He certainly didn’t get the best press in his career, and his somewhat doleful nature made him the butt of those with a skerrick of natural humour:

Berlioz_choir

Image by Gustave Doré

Yet as his great memoir shows, Berlioz knew he had something and you only have to play a few of his recordings to appreciate that:

For example,  the Symphonie fantastique.

And his Faust.

Even Les Troyens, with its Wagnerian length, is worth its salt.

And then consider his overtures based on Walter Scott, the comic opera Béatrice et Bénédict, and his Requiem.

He worked feverishly and the fact he leaves a shadow over 200 years after his birth is the very greatest reason for our belief in some kind of ethereal afterlife….

The desire to see the artist finally take some wages.

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If none of the pieces referred to above moves you, how about his superb setting and arrangement for La Marseillaise (so beloved of fans of Casablanca)?

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