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Response to Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique-
Jo-Pete Nelson
Hon P 214R
Great Works Response

Symphonie Fantastique- Hector Berlioz


Hector Berlioz was born in France December 11, 1803, the eldest son of a distinguished doctor. His father first taught him to play flageolet as a boy, and by the age of 14 he started making minor compositions. He did have various lessons, on flute and guitar, but a lot of his early composition training was self-taught, with little knowledge of piano. Not surprisingly, his father expected him to attend medical school and become a doctor. Young Berlioz was not very happy with this, and eventually changed his focus toward music, despite his father's great disapproval (and reduction in allowance) (Grove).

In 1827, Berlioz watched a Shakespeare play and fell in love with the English actress Harriet Smithson. He immediately became obsessed with her. This obsession eventually became the source of the story for Symphonie Fantastique. At about the same time, Berlioz was first introduced to the symphonies of Beethoven. His great admiration for Beethoven's work led him to make his own symphony. Berlioz was more interested in telling a story and describing emotions, so his symphonies greatly expanded the style to allow more artistic expression (Grove).

There's more to read. Read the extended entry.

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