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

Work: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Browse 51-75 of 171 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    The John Eliot Gardiner Collection
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001826002 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker,  Bryn Terfel  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir,  His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts  ... 
    CD: $90.99
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  • 52.
    Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Nuits D'ete (Ii-vi)
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 350071 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Eleanor Steber
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 53.
    Icon - Constantin Silvestri [15-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 233472 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  George Enescu,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantin Silvestri
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
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  • 54.
    Gary Bertini Conducts Strauss, Mahler, Ravel, Debussy, Berlioz
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 7136 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Hĺkan Hagegĺrd,  Thomas Quasthoff,  Elisabeth Leonskaja
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $24.99
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  • 55.
    Romantic Symphonies & Overtures / Klemperer
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 404309 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Antonín Dvorák,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Heather Harper
    Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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    CD: $46.99
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  • 56.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Concert Overtures / Norrington, Cambreling
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94614 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling,  Roger Norrington
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 57.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Slatkin, Lyon National Orchestra
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 29 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
    Blu-ray Audio: $19.99
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  • 58.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Slatkin, Lyon NO
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572886 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 59.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Orchestre De La Francophonie
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 29998 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Jean-Philippe Tremblay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre De La Francophonie
    CD: $18.49
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  • 60.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Ticciati, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 400 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Robin Ticciati
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra
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  • 61.
    Great Romantic Symphonies
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8501057 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Sidney Green,  Imrich Szabo
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Alexander Rahbari,  Antoni Wit,  Reinhard Seifried  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra,  Failoni Orchestra Budapest,  Brussels Belgian Radio & TV Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 62.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85182 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
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  • 63.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Lelio / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64103 Release Date: 12/30/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Jean-Louis Barrault,  John Mitchinson,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Stuart Burrows  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 64.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Romeo et Juliette / Muti
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 97957 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  John Aler,  Simon Estes,  Jessye Norman
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    CD: $17.99
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  • 65.
    Introducing Masterpieces - Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Jansons
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2056158 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $19.99
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  • 66.
    The Story of the Symphony / Andre Previn
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4572 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 67.
    Sir Thomas Beecham: French Music - Berlioz, Bizet, Delibes, Debussy, Faure, Etc.
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 9932 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Georges Bizet,  Charles Gounod,  Léo Delibes  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society  ... 
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  • 68.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Nezet-Seguin
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1800 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Anna Caterina Antonacci
    Conductor:  Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 69.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; La Marseillaise
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 78707 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Placido Domingo
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    CD: $8.99
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  • 70.
    Berlioz: Symphony Fantastique; Beethoven, Strauss / Maazel, Anda, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Orfeo D'or   Catalog: 821102 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Géza Anda
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 71.
    Europakonzert 2001 At Istanbul / Pahud, Jansons
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2051448 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Emmanuel Pahud
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 72.
    Ernest Ansermet Conducts Berlioz & Liszt & Wagner
    Label: Cascavelle   Catalog: 3143 Release Date: 12/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Franz Liszt,  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 73.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
    Label: Classic Records   Catalog: 2022 Release Date: 09/21/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
    On sale! $41.98
    DVD: $38.99
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  • 74.
    Seiji Ozawa - Anniversary
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001464002 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Trevor Pinnock,  Everett Firth,  Simon Preston,  Kathleen Battle  ... 
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
    CD: $57.99
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  • 75.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique; Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition / Markevitch
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 459015 Release Date: 08/20/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Modest Mussorgsky
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    ArkivCD $16.99
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