Hector Berlioz


Born: 1803   Died: 1869   Country: France   Period: Romantic
Berlioz, the passionate, ardent, irrepressible genius of French Romanticism, left a rich and original oeuvre which exerted a profound influence on nineteenth century music. Berlioz developed a profound affinity toward music and literature as a child. Sent to Paris at 17 to study medicine, he was enchanted by Gluck's operas, firmly deciding to become a composer. With his father's reluctant consent, Berlioz entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1826. Read more His originality was already apparent and disconcerting -- a competition cantata, Cléopâtre (1829), looms as his first sustained masterpiece -- and he won the Prix de Rome in 1830 amid the turmoil of the July Revolution. Meanwhile, a performance of Hamlet in September 1827, with Harriet Smithson as Ophelia, provoked an overwhelming but unrequited passion, whose aftermath may be heard in the Symphonie fantastique (1830).

Returning from Rome, Berlioz organized a concert in 1832, featuring his symphony. Harriet Smithson was in the audience. They were introduced days later and married on October 3, 1833.

Berlioz settled into a career pattern which he maintained for more than a decade, writing reviews, organizing concerts, and composing a series of visionary masterpieces: Harold en Italie (1834), the monumental Requiem (1837), and an opera, Benvenuto Cellini (1838), a crushing fiasco. At year's end, the dying Paganini made Berlioz a gift of 20,000 francs, enabling him to devote nearly a year to the composition of his "dramatic symphony," Roméo et Juliette (1839). And then, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the July Revolution, came the Symphonie funèbre et triomphale (1840).

Iridescently scored, an exquisite collection of six Gautier settings, Les nuits d'été, opened the new decade. This was a difficult time for Berlioz, as his marriage failed to bring him the happiness he desired. Concert tours to Brussels, many German cities, Vienna, Pesth, Prague, and London occupied him through most of the 1840s. He composed La Damnation de Faust, en route, offering the new work to a half-empty house in Paris, December 6, 1846. Expenses were catastrophic, and only a successful concert tour to St. Petersburg saved him.

He sat out the revolutionary upheavals of 1848 in London, returning to Paris in July. The massive Te Deum -- a "little brother" to the Requiem -- was largely composed over 1849, though it would not be heard until 1855. L'Enfance du Christ, scored an immediate and enduring success from its first performance on December 10, 1854. Elected to the Institut de France in 1855, he started receiving a members' stipend, and this provided him with a modicum of financial security. Consequently, Berlioz was able to devote himself to the summa of his career, his vast opera, Les Troyens, based on Virgil's Aeneid, the Roman poet's unfinished epic masterpiece. The opera was completed in 1858. As he negotiated for its performance, he composed a comique adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, which met with a rapturous Baden première, on August 9, 1862. Unfortunately, only the third, fourth, and fifth acts of Les Troyens were mounted by the Théatre-Lyrique, a successful premiere, on November 4, 1863, and a run of 21 performances notwithstanding. This lopsided production stemmed from a compromise (bitterly regretted by the composer) that Berlioz had made with the Théâtre-Lyrique.

Though frail and ailing, Berlioz conducted his works in Vienna and Cologne in 1866, traveling to St. Petersburg and Moscow in the winter of 1867-1868. Despondent and tortured by self-doubt, the composer received a triumphant welcome in Russia. Back in Paris in March 1868, he was but a walking shadow as paralysis slowly overcame him. Read less
Berlioz: Harold en Italie... / Ehnes, Davis
Release Date: 05/26/2015   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5155   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique... / Menuhin
Release Date: 09/27/2005   Label: Virgin Classics  
Catalog: 62486   Number of Discs: 1
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Chausson: Poeme De L'amour Et De La Mer; Berlioz: Nuits D'ete; Duparc: Songs
Release Date: 08/14/2015   Label: Ondine  
Catalog: 1261   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Mariss Jansons, Et Al
Release Date: 06/10/2003   Label: Emi Classics Encore  
Catalog: 85041   Number of Discs: 1
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Royal Mezzo - Barber: Andromache's Farewell;  Britten: Phaedra;  Ravel, Berlioz / Kalmar, Et Al
Release Date: 06/10/2008   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 104   Number of Discs: 1
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There are 891 Hector Berlioz recordings available.

Select a specific Composition Type or Popular Work or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below

Composition Types

Hector Berlioz

Symphonie fantastique Op. 14 (1989 Remastered Version): I. Rêveries - Passions
Symphonie fantastique Op. 14 (1989 Remastered Version): II. Un bal
Symphonie fantastique Op. 14 (1989 Remastered Version): III. Scène aux champs
Symphonie fantastique Op. 14 (1989 Remastered Version): IV. Marche au supplice
Symphonie fantastique Op. 14 (1989 Remastered Version): V. Songe d'une nuit du Sabbat
Grande Messe des morts: i. Requiem et Kyrie
Grande Messe des morts: ii. Dies irae
Grande Messe des morts: iii. Quid sum miser
Grande Messe des morts: iv. Rex tremendae
Grande Messe des morts: v. Quaerens me
Grande Messe des morts: vi. Lacrymosa
Grande Messe des morts: vii. Offertoire (Domine Jesu Christe)
Grande Messe des morts: viii. Hostias
Grande Messe des morts: ix. Sanctus
Grande Messe des morts: x. Agnus Dei
Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Op.16 - 1a. Harold aux montagnes (Adagio)
Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Op.16 - 1b. Harold aux montagnes (Allegro)
Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Op.16 - 2. Marche des Pèlerins (Allegretto)
Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Op.16 - 3. Sérénade (Allegro assai - Allegretto)
Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Op.16 - 4. Orgie de brigands (Allegro frenetico - Adagio - Allegro, Tempo I)
Les Nuits d'été Op. 7: Villanelle
Les Nuits d'été Op. 7: Le spectre de la rose
Les Nuits d'été Op. 7: Sur les lagunes
Les Nuits d'été Op. 7: Absence
Les Nuits d'été Op. 7: Au cimetière
Les Nuits d'été Op. 7: L'île inconnue
La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Le vieil hiver
Les bergers laissent
Mais d'un éclat guerrier
March hongroise: (Rákóczy March)
Sans regrets j'ai quitté
Christ vient de ressusciter! (Chant de la fête de Pâques)
Hélas! doux chants du ciel
O pure émotion!
A boire encor!
Oh! qui'il fait bon
Certain rat (Chanson de Brander)
Amen. Amen
Vrai Dieu, messieurs
Une puce gentille (Chanson de Méphistophélés)
Assez! fuyons ces lieux
Voici des roses
Dors, heureux Faust, dors!
Ballet of the Sylphs
Villes entourées
La retraite
Merci, doux crépuscule!
Je l'entends!
Que l'air est étouffant!
Autrefois un roi de Thulé (The King of Thule)
Esprit des flammes
La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24: Menuet des follets
Grands dieux!
Allons, il est trop tard!
D'amour l'ardente flamme (Romance de Marguerite)
Au son des trompettes
Nature immense (Invocation à la Nature)
A la voûte azurée
Dans mon coeur retentit (La course à l'abîme)
Has! Irimiru Karabrao!
Alors l'enfer se tut
Laus! Hosanna!
L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25: Part I: Dans la crèche
Part I: Qui vient?
Part I: Toujours ce rêve!
Part I: Seigneur!
Part I: Les sages de Judée
Part I: La voix dit vrai, seigneur
Part I: Eh bien!
Part I: O mon cher fils
Part I: Joseph! Marie!
Part II: Il s'en va loin de la terre (L'adieu des bergers à la Sainte Famille)
Part II: Les Pèlerins étant venus
Part III: Depuis trois jours
Part III: Dans cette ville immense
Part III: Entrez, entrez, pauvres hébreux
Part III: Sur vos traits fatigués
L'enfance du Christ, Op. 25: Part III: Trio pour deux flûtes et harpe
Part III: Vous pleurez, jeune mère
Part III: Ce fut ainsi que par un infidèle

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