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
Glinka, Ponchielli, Berlioz: Overtures, Marches & Dances / Simonov
Release Date: 08/10/2010   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28350   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Mackerras, RPO
Release Date: 10/14/2008   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28310   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: La Captive / Lisa Larsson
Release Date: 09/09/2014   Label: Challenge  
Catalog: 72639   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Varese: Ionisation / Mariss Jansons
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Br Klassik  
Catalog: 900121   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Overtures / Gibson, Royal Philharmonic
Release Date: 10/11/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28840   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Browse 1-25 of 195 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Le Carnaval Romain / Monteux, Pierne
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2108 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Gabriel Pierné
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Symphonique De Paris,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 2.
    100 Great Symphonies
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002054602 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 56
    Composer:  Giovanni Battista Sammartini,  Johann Wenzel Stamitz,  Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf,  Johann Christian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Hanna Schwarz,  René Kollo,  Kurt Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Kevin Mallon,  Christopher Hogwood,  Thomas Füri,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble,  Academy of Ancient Music,  Camerata Bern  ... 
    On sale! $259.98
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  • 3.
    Karajan: Orchestra Spectaculars From Handel To Bartok
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 633621 Release Date: 05/27/2014   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $78.99
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  • 4.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
    Label: Helicon   Catalog: 29673 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Borodin,  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Noseda
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  • 5.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
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  • 6.
    Sir Colin Davis - Anthology
    Label: Lso Live   Catalog: 766 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Antonín Dvorák,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  Michelle DeYoung,  Petra Lang,  Sara Mingardo  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
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  • 7.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Varese: Ionisation / Mariss Jansons
    Label: Br Klassik   Catalog: 900121 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Edgard Varčse
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 8.
    The Westminster Legacy
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001999302 Release Date: 02/18/2014   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Sena Jurinac,  Lucretia West,  Hans Loeffler,  Frederick Guthrie  ... 
    Conductor:  Hermann Scherchen,  Pierre Monteux,  René Leibowitz,  Erich Leinsdorf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Orchestra,  Vienna Academy Chamber Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 9.
    Europakonzert 2001 At Istanbul / Pahud, Jansons [blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2051444 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Emmanuel Pahud
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $29.99
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  • 10.
    Hector Berlioz: Phantastische Symphonie Op. 14; Richard Strauss: Tod Und Verklarung Op. 24
    Label: Bella Musica   Catalog: 312450 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Strauss
    Conductor:  Carl-August Bünte
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  • 11.
    Roger Norrington - The Romantics
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93313 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Hector Berlioz,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Anton Bruckner  ... 
    Performer:  Anu Komsi
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
    Label: Hi. Q   Catalog: 14 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
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  • 13.
    Stanislaw Skrowaczewski: The Complete Oehms Classics Recordings
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 90 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Annette Dasch,  Daniela Sindram,  Christian Elsner,  George Zeppenfeld  ... 
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Saarbrücken Radio Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 15.
    Berlioz Masterworks / Dutoit, Montreal [17-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001915202 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Dimitri Bortniansky,  Johann Paul A. Martini
    Performer:  Françoise Pollet,  Deborah Voigt,  Gino Quilico,  Jean-Phillipe Courtis  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
    CD: $94.49
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  • 16.
    Haydn: Symphony no 83
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5105 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  South West German Radio Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Berlioz: Complete Orchestral & Sacred Works / Colin Davis
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4804868 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Nobuko Imai,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Patricia Kern,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $69.98
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  • 18.
    Karajan - 1970s
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001873702 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 82
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Francesco Manfredini,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Brandis,  Michel Schwalbé,  Karlheinz Zöller,  Edith Mathis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Hans Priem Bergrath
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
    CD: $313.99
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  • 19.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Barenboim, West-eastern Divan Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001870002 Release Date: 08/20/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Franz Liszt
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22398 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
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  • 21.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22257 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
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  • 22.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22304 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert,  Hector Berlioz,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 23.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22266 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Rolando Panerai,  Sena Jurinac,  Vittoria Palombini,  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 24.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Orozko-estrada, Tonkunstler Orchester Niederosterreich
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 869 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Andrés Orozko-estrada
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Niederosterreich Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 25.
    Colin Davis: The Philips Years [15-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001850302 Release Date: 06/18/2013   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Kovacevich,  Claudio Arrau,  Jessye Norman,  Jon Vickers  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    CD: $76.99
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