Louis-Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his orchestra composition Symphonie fantastique.
Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his ‘Treatise on Instrumentation’ and his influence was central to the further development of Romanticism, especially for composers like Richard Wagner, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, and Gustav Mahler.
He holds a unique place in musical history excelling in the fields of composer, practical musician and writer at once.
Unlike most other renowned composers of his time, Berlioz was not a child prodigy and began studying music at the age of 12. He was discouraged from learning the piano by his father, and became proficient in the guitar and flute. His early compositions were small arrangements, romances and chamber pieces.
He turned his back on a career in medicine to follow his passion for music, and went on to compose works that showcased the innovativeness and search for expression that were hallmarks of Romanticism.
Berlioz had a romantic soul and a great affection for literature, particularly the writing of Thomas de Quincy, Goethe, Byron and Shakespeare – who inspired many of his best-known works. Whilst only twelve he learned to read Latin and translated Virgil, whose works made him weep, into French.
For the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s film ,The Shining’, composer Wendy Carlos re-interpreted the ‘Dies Irae’ section of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique using a Moog synthesizer.
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