Hector Berlioz (full name Hector Louis Berlioz) was born on December 11, 1803 in La Cote-Saint-Andre, France. He was a French Romantic composer.
Biography and Career :
In 1821 at the age of 18 he was sent to Paris to study medicine. Berlioz was terrified of the dissection process and despite his father's will he abandoned medicine.
One year later he decided he liked music and went to the Conservatoire in Paris, to study opera and composition.
He realized he identified himself with the French Romantic movement and among his friends were writers like: Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Honore de Balzac.
Theophile Gautier wrote: "Hector Berlioz seems to me to form with Hugo and Delacroix, the Trinity of Romantic Art".
In 1826 when he was 23 years old, Berlioz fall in lo
ve with Harriet Constance Smithson, an Irish actress.
Berlioz went to study in Rome for two years and after he retuned to Paris in 1833 they married and Franz Liszt and Heinrich Heine were their witnesses.
His wife was considered to be his inspiration when he created "Symphonie fantastique", which was performed for the first time in 1830.
Berlioz and Constance divorced in 1842.
He was more famous as a conductor than a composer during his life and had many tours in Germany and England as a conductor of operas and symphonic music.
Niccolo Paganini charged Berlioz to compose a viola concerto. That's how it was created the symphony for viola and orchestra, "Harold in Italy". When he saw the sketches for the work Paganini changed his mind, but one day he recognized that Hector was a genius and offered him 20.000 francs. With all that money Berlioz didn't have to work for living and could focus on writing the dramatic symphony "Romeo et Juliette" for voices, chorus and orchestra.
Hector Berlioz passed away on the 8th of March 1869 and was buried in the Cimetiere de Montmartre. There are also burried his two wives Harriet Smithson, who died in 1854 and Marie Recio, who passed away in 1862.
Important Works :
- 1830 "Symphonie fantastique"
- 1837 "Grande Messe des Morts" (Requiem)
- 50 songs for voice and piano
- "Romeo et Juliette" (Symphony)
- "La damnation de Faust" (Legende dramatique)
- "Les nuits d'ete" (Song cycle,originally for voice and piano, later with an orchestral accompaniment)
- "Harold in Italy" (Concertante symphony for viola and orchestra)
- "Te Deum" (Quasi-liturgical)
- "L'Enfance du Christ" (Oratorio)
- 1852 "Evenings With the Orchestra" (Scathing satire)
- 1870 "Berlioz's Memoirs"
- "The Treatise on Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration" (Pedagogic work)
- His father was a physician.
- In 1830 Berlioz received Prix de Rome.
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