In this live recording from the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Bernard Haitink conducts his Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a
performance of Hector Berlioz’s „Symphonie Fantastique“. Berlioz wrote his symphony, subtitled „Episodes in the Life of an Artist“,
in 1830. It deals, autobiographically, with his love for the famous Irish actress Harriet Smithson. With his composition Berlioz not only reached the breakthrough of his career as a composer, but also defi ned early Romanticism with his so-called “programme music”.
This innovative piece is made up of five movements, held together by a musical theme, the Love Theme. The detailed literary programme portrays a lover pursuing his beloved through bouts of opium-smoking, his hallucinations ever more curious, until she becomes a malign witch on Walpurgis Night, dancing on the grave of his love. It consists of a fantasy about the beloved, an evocation of a ball, a rustic scene, a Napoleonic march to the scaffold and the nightmare of the witches’ orgy, called the Witches’ Sabbath. Throughout the five movements, the love theme recurs constantly, holding them all tightly together. This piece of music, long regarded as virtuoso nonsense, is by now appreciated as a brilliant psychological fantasy in music, its texture finely adjusted to the acceptable music of its period.
Up Next in Berlioz
Roméo et Juliette Op. 17 (1986)
This live recording features a concert performance of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, a dramatic symphony, with solo and choral voices, in the original French language version.
Sir Colin Davis conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus and Orchestra with soloists Philip Langridge (tenor), Hanna ...
La Damnation de Faust (1989)
This live recording was made at the Royal Albert Hall during one of London’s famous Promenade Concert seasons. Sir Georg Solti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a magnificent performance of Berlioz’s concert cantata. This feast of Berlioz launched Solti’s farewell tour with th...
Benvenuto Cellini (2015)
Benvenuto Cellini by H. Berlioz, from Dutch National Opera, performed at Dutch National Opera and Ballet, 2015. Directed by Terry Gilliam, conductor Mark Elder, starring Michèle Losier, John Osborn, Orlin Anastassov, André Morsch, Laurent Naouri, Marcel Beekman, Mariangela Sicilia, Maurizio Murar...