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8 - Fifth Movement

‘Songe d’une nuit de Sabbat’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2023

Julian Rushton
Affiliation:
University of Leeds
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Summary

Before deciding on his programme, Berlioz was thinking of basing a symphony on Goethe’s Faust. The ‘Sabbath Night’ is inspired by the Walpurgisnacht vision of the beloved transformed into a witch. The movement continues Berlioz’s exploration of new orchestral sonorities to represent his nightmare scenario. Another instrument new to the symphony orchestra is a pair of deep bells; for which, as they would not often be available, he wrote the part to be played on pianos. His handling of the usual instruments, woodwind, brass, percussion, and strings, is no less original. The bells chime, the Dies irae plainchant is played and caricatured. The idée fixe is transformed into a vulgar jig suitable for a witches’ Sabbath, and the ‘Ronde’ begins as an academically correct fugue, its subject combined at the climax with the plainchant.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Fifth Movement
  • Julian Rushton, University of Leeds
  • Book: Berlioz: <i>Symphonie Fantastique</i>
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009075138.009
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  • Fifth Movement
  • Julian Rushton, University of Leeds
  • Book: Berlioz: <i>Symphonie Fantastique</i>
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009075138.009
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Fifth Movement
  • Julian Rushton, University of Leeds
  • Book: Berlioz: <i>Symphonie Fantastique</i>
  • Online publication: 30 November 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009075138.009
Available formats
×