Hector Berlioz

Louis Hector Berlioz ( born December 11, 1803 in La Côte -Saint -André, Isère, † March 8, 1869 in Paris) was a French composer and music critic.

  • 3.1 Directory Opus
  • 3.2 operas and dramatic legends
  • 3.3 orchestral music
  • 3.4 chamber, piano, harmonium and organ music
  • 3.5 Religious
  • 3.6 fonts

Life and work


His father's sake, who was a doctor himself, Berlioz first studied medicine and then music ( he even started yet a law degree ). The musical career had Berlioz in 1822 in mind, but he initially believed to be able to agree with the study of medicine. After January 1824 ( intermediate examination), he gave up the study of medicine. As an unofficial student of Jean -François Lesueur, he belonged to since November 1822 the sphere of Composition students of the Conservatoire de Paris and was taken seriously by Lesueur since 1824 as a promising talent. In 1826, he definitely moved to the Conservatoire to study under Lesueur and the Bohemian composer Anton Reicha. In 1830 he was awarded the Prix de Rome for the cantata Sardanapale. From 1839 he was librarian at the Conservatoire.

Composer and conductor

Berlioz is considered an important representative of the music of Romanticism in France, although he himself could the term " romance " not get anything: he saw himself as a classical composer. He is considered the founder of the symphonic program music and modern orchestral instrumentation. His revolutionary for its time compositions have been poorly understood and brought him more criticism than praise. Therefore, he also had to deny as a music critic for a living. Although his works were premiered exclusively in Paris up to Béatrice et Bénédict (1862 in Baden- Baden), he learned in France until long after his death in recognition.

However, Berlioz was a great role model for many of the young romantics. The key was his influence on Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, and many Russian composers such as Nikolai Rimsky -Korsakov. In 1868, he traveled specially to Rostov in order to experience the different melodies of the great Geläuts for which the Rostov Hunchback were world famous with their own ears. Berlioz was also excited to play with the " first-rate " orchestra of the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

According to his own accounts, Berlioz has passed one of the first conductors to the use of a metronome as an aid in the sample in order to maintain the correct tempo of his compositions can. The performance Berlioz'scher works often prepared the composer himself problems because he needed some for up to a thousand instrumentalists and singers.

Berlioz made ​​several trips to Germany. Many German contemporary music theorists had difficulty explaining the "French phenomenon " Berlioz. Franz Brendel, a German music historian and music journalist of the 19th century was, Berlioz's only interpret music by making the French to a German, " he has found his true spiritual home to look at us."

The relationship with Richard Wagner was very excited. On the one hand they seemed to respect each other, on the other hand they criticized publicly and in letters to other composers such as Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann. While Liszt behaved diplomatically, Schumann published in the " Neue Zeitschrift für Musik " ​​a text in which Wagner Berlioz called " limitless boring". Also on the Symphonie fantastique, one of the major works of Berlioz, Wagner expressed negatively: " shapeliness is nowhere to be found. "

His contemporary, Charles Hallé said of him that he was the most perfect conductor, and had among his people the absolute command. The composer Ferdinand Hiller said of him that he was in the musical solar system not a big or small planet - rather something to look scary, an unforgettable, shining far and wide comet. (FAZ January 30, 2014 )

Last years and death

In his last years, Berlioz was marked by illness seizures and excruciating pain, which made him partially unable to write even just ten lines a day. " I hasten ," he wrote in 1862 Ferrand, " to cut all the threads, so I can always say to death: when you want."

The journey into the Russian winter in 1868 hurt his health so that he was forced to return to Paris. From there he traveled to Nice to recuperate in the Mediterranean. On this trip, he suffered two strokes. After a lengthy recovery period, he returned to Paris, but where he died on March 8, 1869.

As a member of the Institut de France, he was buried in the Montmartre Cemetery. The original tomb has been replaced by a monumental grave stone.

Berlioz's orchestration

Berlioz is the author of Grand Traité d' instrumentation et d' orchestration modern of 1844, the first extensive instrumentation customer. The work was published in 1845 in German under the title The Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration. 1904, was revised and supplemented by Richard Strauss and is valid in parts today. Richard Strauss, Berlioz admired, initially saw no need to edit this comprehensive work. However, when the publisher approached him, and he became more and more dealt with it, he found that his task was to update the work, that it would continue to hold stock. Berlioz explained on the basis of quotations from orchestral scores by Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, and from his own works all common in modern orchestral instruments. There are currently only few publications that can compete in extent and accuracy of his work, such as Samuel Adler's "The Study Of Orchestration " (1982, engl. ) And Yehudi Menuhin's " Instruments of the Orchestra " (CD).

The revised version of Strauss contains more modern instruments, as well as further examples of scores of Richard Wagner and his own compositions.

Works (selection)

Opus directory

  • Opus 1: Huit Scènes de Faust ( later withdrawn )
  • Opus 1: Waverley Overture
  • Opus 2: Le ballet des ombres (1829 )
  • Opus 2b: Irlande: mélodies irlandaises (9 tunes) (1829 )
  • Opus 3: Les francs - juges (1826 /34)
  • Opus 4: Le Roi Lear (1831 )
  • Opus 5: Grande messe des morts ( Requiem) (1837 )
  • Opus 6: Le cinq mai (1831 /35)
  • Opus 7: Les nuits d' été (1840 /41)
  • Opus 8: reverie et Caprice (1841 )
  • Opus 9: Le carnaval romain (1843 /44)
  • Opus 10: Traité d'Instrumentation
  • Opus 11: Sarao la baigneuse (1834 )
  • Opus 12: La Captive (1832 )
  • Opus 13: Fleurs des nation ( 1850) / 3: Letons (1835 )
  • Le songe d' Hérode (1854 )
  • La Fuite en Égypte (1850-1853)
  • L' Arrivée à Sais (1853-1854)
  • La Prise de Troie 29a,
  • Les Troyens à Carthage 29b

Operas and dramatic legends

Orchestra music

Overtures for orchestra:


Work for symphonic band:

Chamber, piano, harmonium and organ music

Chamber music:

Piano Music:

Harmonium and Organ Music:

Sacred Music


  • Grand Traité d' instrumentation et d' orchestration modern. (1844 ). German translation: Grand Traité d' instrumentation et d' orchestration Modern - The Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration is a German / French language edition. The cover page is dedicated to Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Publisher Chez Ad Mt Schlesinger (1845 )
  • On Instrumentation, supplemented and revised by Richard Strauss. Edition Peters Leipzig in 1904 and Frankfurt 1955