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Hector Berlioz

Biography

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 funčbre 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 premičre, 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: Cantatas / Casadesus, Lagrange, Uria-monzon, Et Al
Release Date: 08/19/2003   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8555810   Number of Discs: 1
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The Best Of Berlioz
Release Date: 06/22/1999   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8556678   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Requiem / Noel Edison, Michael Schade, Et Al
Release Date: 08/31/1999   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8554494-95   Number of Discs: 2
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Berlioz: L'enfance Du Christ, Etc / Graham, Dutoit, Et Al
Release Date: 11/14/2000   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 458915   Number of Discs: 2
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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Yoav Talmi, San Diego So
Release Date: 01/15/2002   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8553597   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Browse 1-25 of 177 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Leonard Bernstein: Remastered Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 541714 Release Date: 10/27/2017   Number of Discs: 100
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Darius Milhaud,  Leonard Bernstein,  Harold Shapero  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
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  • 2.
    Boston Symphony Orchestra: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797718 Release Date: 10/20/2017   Number of Discs: 57
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Zukofsky,  Christoph Eschenbach,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Teresa Berganza  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  William Steinberg,  Rafael Kubelik  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Chamber Players
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  • 3.
    Sir Georg Solti: The Complete Chicago Recordings
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4831375 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 108
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $373.99
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  • 4.
    Daniel Barenboim: A Retrospective / Various
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985393632 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 46
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Carl Stamitz  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Saschko Gawriloff,  Halina Lukomska,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 5.
    DG 111: The Conductors / Various
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797477 Release Date: 08/04/2017   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gaston Litaize,  Alain Moglia,  Luben Yordanoff,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Leonard Bernstein,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $138.99
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  • 6.
    Andre Cluytens: The Complete Orchestral & Concerto Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 562261 Release Date: 06/16/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Raoul Laparra,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Monique de la Bruchollerie,  Marcelle Meyer,  Zino Francescatti,  Jeanne-Marie Darré  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire,  Le Grand Orchestre Symphonique Columbia,  Orchestre du Theatre National de l'Opera-Comique  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $99.98
    CD: $84.99
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  • 7.
    Evgeny Mravinsky Edition, Vol. 2
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 65 Release Date: 06/02/2017   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Hector Berlioz,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Boris Trizno,  Elena Sinitzyna
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 8.
    Rhythm & Colours / Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 560929 Release Date: 05/05/2017   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Gustav Mahler,  Claude Debussy,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Christian Gerhaher,  Lawrence Brownlee,  Sally Matthews
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
    On sale! $36.98
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  • 9.
    Abbado & Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797239 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Hector Berlioz,  Gustav Mahler,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Maurizio Pollini,  Shlomo Mintz
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $32.49
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  • 10.
    New York Philharmonic: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 533636 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Levant,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern,  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg,  Josef Stransky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 11.
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Kegel, Dresden Philharmonic
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 0300840 Release Date: 02/24/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $18.99
    CD: $14.99
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  • 12.
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Kegel, Dresden Philharmonic [Vinyl]
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 0300844BC Release Date: 02/24/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Herbert Kegel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
    LP: $39.99
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  • 13.
    Michael Gielen Edition, Vol. 4: 1958-2014
    Label: Swr Music   Catalog: 19028 Release Date: 01/13/2017   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Bedrich Smetana,  Franz Liszt,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Besch,  Marianne Luxemburger,  Anthony Rolfe Johnson,  Brigitte Messthaler  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Gielen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  SWR Stuttgart Vocal Ensemble  ... 
    On sale! $57.98
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  • 14.
    Berlioz, arr. Lavandier: Symphonie Fantastique / Pascal, Le Balcon
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 539 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Maxime Pascal
    CD: $18.99
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  • 15.
    Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique / Gatti, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra [Vinyl]
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: RCO16007 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    LP: $58.99
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  • 16.
    Charles Munch: The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 516979 Release Date: 10/28/2016   Number of Discs: 86
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Vincent D'Indy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Artur Rubinstein,  Margaret Roggero,  Leslie Chabey  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Harvard Glee Club  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $226.99
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  • 17.
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique - Rameau: Hippolyte et Aricie Suite / Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 902244 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Jean-Philippe Rameau
    Conductor:  Daniel Harding
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Gatti, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 16006 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $21.49
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  • 19.
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Gatti, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra [Blu-ray]
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 16108 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    On sale! $42.99
    Blu-ray Video: $34.99
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  • 20.
    Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique / Gatti, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra [DVD]
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 16109 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Daniele Gatti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    DVD: $39.99
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  • 21.
    The Originals, Vol. 2
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002534902 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Nathan Milstein,  Géza Anda,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Eugen Jochum,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $142.49
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  • 22.
    Georges Pretre: The Symphonic Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 557140 Release Date: 09/02/2016   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Darius Milhaud,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Joseph Jongen  ... 
    Conductor:  Georges Prętre
    On sale! $54.98
    CD: $49.99
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  • 23.
    Berlioz: Un Siecle De Musique Francaise
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192882 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Cesare Valletti,  Rosalind Elias,  Giorgio Tozzi
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    CD: $9.99
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  • 24.
    Symphonies & Symphonic Poems / Mehta
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002488802 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Hector Berlioz,  Anton Bruckner  ... 
    Performer:  Sidney Harth,  Maureen Forrester,  Daniel Benyamini,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $65.99
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  • 25.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Gervase de Peyer,  Michel Dalberto,  Daniel Varsano  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Charles Munch,  Seiji Ozawa,  Richard Marlow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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