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3 - Symphonie fantastique in Berlioz’s Lifetime

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2023

Julian Rushton
Affiliation:
University of Leeds
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Summary

Some of the major influences on Berlioz were the new experiences that he likened to a thunderbolt. Literary influences came from Britain and Ireland (Thomas Moore, Walter Scott, and especially Shakespeare); from Germany (Goethe); and from France (Victor Hugo). The coup de foudre were performances of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, with Harriet Smithson (1827). He was mainly brought up on French music – songs and extracts from operas. Once in Paris, he came to admire the French operas of Gluck, and Weber’s Der Freischütz affected him strongly. However, the musical coup de foudre was Beethoven, whose example led him to cast his ideas in symphonic form. Once completed, the work must be performed; and when Berlioz took to conducting his own music and promoting it outside France, Symphonie fantastique, or selections from it, featured in many of his concerts.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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