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 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: Symphonie Fantastique / Nezet-Seguin, Antonacci
Release Date: 02/22/2011   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1800   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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Legendary Treasures - Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Etc / Mravinsky
Release Date: 11/05/2002   Label: Doremi Records  
Catalog: 7610   Number of Discs: 2
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Legendary Treasures - William Primrose Vol 4 - Berlioz, Etc
Release Date: 11/13/2001   Label: Doremi Records  
Catalog: 7784   Number of Discs: 1
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Hector Berlioz: Phantastische Symphonie Op. 14; Richard Strauss: Tod Und Verklarung Op. 24
Release Date: 01/28/2014   Label: Bella Musica  
Catalog: 312450   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Browse 101-125 of 194 Available Recordings
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  • 101.
    Berlioz Rediscovered / Gardiner, Orchestre Révolutionnaire Et Romantique
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000972909 Release Date: 09/11/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
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  • 102.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Levine, Berlin Po
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 431624 Release Date: 08/06/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 103.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Celibidache
    Label: Opus Arte   Catalog: 977 Release Date: 06/26/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Turin
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  • 104.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Ozawa, Boston Symphony
    Label: Dg Galleria   Catalog: 431169 Release Date: 06/08/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus
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  • 105.
    Label: Octave, Les Productions   Catalog: 23326 Release Date: 03/22/2007   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  François Couperin,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Schneiderhan,  Marcelle Meyer,  Andrés Segovia,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Baumgartner,  Eduard Van Beinum,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Wilhelm Furtwängler  ... 
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  • 106.
    Berlin Philharmonic 125 Years - A Jubilee Celebration
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2000068 Release Date: 01/30/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Antonín Dvorák,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Gil Shaham,  Emmanuel Pahud
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Claudio Abbado,  Mariss Jansons,  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $78.99
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  • 107.
    Original Masters - Ataúlfo Argenta - Complete Decca Recordings 1953-1957
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000798002 Release Date: 01/09/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Enrique Granados,  Moritz Moszkowski  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Katchen,  Alfredo Campoli
    Conductor:  Ataulfo Argenta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 108.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Plasson, Orchestra De Toulouse
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 71467 Release Date: 11/21/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Jean-Louis Homs,  Gérard Caussé
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
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  • 109.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Harold In Italy / Eschenbach
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 16 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Tabea Zimmermann
    Conductor:  Christoph Eschenbach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris
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  • 110.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Zdenek Macal, Milwaukee So
    Label: Koss   Catalog: 1005 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Zdenek Macal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
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  • 111.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, etc [LP Sleeve Ltd Ed] / Ozawa
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 637195 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pierre Mercure,  Harry Freedman,  Sir Ernest MacMillan,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toronto Symphony Orchestra
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  • 112.
    The Columbia Golden Years - Symphonies / Karajan
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 304 Release Date: 09/26/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 113.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Norrington, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 63286 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Classical Players
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  • 114.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Colin Davis, Concertgebouw
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000701202 Release Date: 07/04/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 115.
    John Barbirolli (Box)
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 1073096 Release Date: 04/27/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Ottorino Respighi,  Jean Sibelius,  Max Bruch  ... 
    Performer:  Nathan Milstein,  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 116.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Munch, Boston So
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 67899 Release Date: 02/07/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 117.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Overtures / Bertini
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 71094 Release Date: 01/01/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 118.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Menuhin, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 62486 Release Date: 09/27/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 119.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Munch, Hungarian Radio & Tv Orchestra
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4767962 Release Date: 09/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hungarian Radio/TV Orchestra
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  • 120.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Bátiz, Royal Po
    Label: Asv   Catalog: 3045 Release Date: 07/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Enrique Bátiz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 121.
    Great Conductors Of The Past - Pierre Monteux
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 90661 Release Date: 06/28/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Robert Schumann
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 122.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Etc / Norrington, Et Al
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93103 Release Date: 05/10/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Roger Norrington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 123.
    Munch - Charles Munch Conducts The Boston Symphony
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4317 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 124.
    Berlioz, Tchaikovsky / Rozhdestvensky, Leningrad Po
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 4163 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 125.
    Complete Collections - Munch Conducts Berlioz
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 60393 Release Date: 11/23/2004   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  McHenry Boatwright,  Louis Speyer,  David Poleri,  Martial Singher  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Harvard Glee Club,  Radcliffe Choral Society  ... 
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