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: Symphonie Fantastique / Slatkin, Lyon NO
Release Date: 09/25/2012   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572886   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Beatrice et Benedict / Manacorda, London Philharmonic
Release Date: 07/28/2017   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: OA 1239D   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Overtures / Yoav Talmi, San Diego Symphony
Release Date: 11/29/1994   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550999   Number of Discs: 1
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Berlioz: Harold In Italy, Etc / Golani, Gruppman, Talmi
Release Date: 11/05/1996   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8553034   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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Work: Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14

Browse 51-75 of 175 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    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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  • 52.
    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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    CD: $17.99
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  • 53.
    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! $119.98
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  • 54.
    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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  • 55.
    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: $17.99
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  • 56.
    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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  • 57.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
    Label: Hi. Q   Catalog: 14 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    On sale! $52.98
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  • 58.
    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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    CD: $148.99
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  • 59.
    Ernest Ansermet - French Music
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4807898 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Gugolz,  Marie-Luise de Montmollin,  Nancy Waugh,  Suzanne Danco  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Union Chorale de la Tour-de-Peilz,  Geneva Motet Choir  ... 
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    CD: $109.99
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  • 60.
    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: $53.99
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  • 61.
    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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  • 62.
    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
    CD: $21.99
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  • 63.
    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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  • 64.
    Colin Davis: The Philips Years
    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: $65.99
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  • 65.
    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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  • 66.
    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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  • 67.
    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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  • 68.
    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
    Recommendation
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  • 69.
    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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  • 70.
    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
    On sale! $19.99
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  • 71.
    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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  • 72.
    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: $18.99
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  • 73.
    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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  • 74.
    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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  • 75.
    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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